From Our Vault: A deep dive into island's past
Developers and merchants did everything they could to hype Oswego's recreation value during the Great Depression — including Jantzen Knitting Mills, which used Oswego Lake to promote its swimwear.
The lake was a perfect backdrop for swimsuits bearing the provocative "Red Diving Girl" logo. The diving girl herself was inspired by Lake Oswego resident and developer Ann Schukart, who was photographed diving off Jantzen Bridge into the lake.
The "Red Diving Girl" logo first appeared in Jantzen catalogs in 1920, and the Sons of Neptune, a Portland aquatic club, wore Jantzen swimsuits in a canoe pageant on the lake in 1938.
Carl Jantzen, the owner and founder of Jantzen Knitting Mills, became a Lake Oswego resident in 1929 when he purchased the four-acre Crazy Man's Island — which he later renamed Jantzen Island — from the Ladd Estate Company for $50,000. According to local lore, settlers called the property Crazy Man's Island because an eccentric recluse had reportedly lived there for several years.
Jantzen hired the firm of Ertz and Burns to design his house on the island. He first asked Richard Sundeleaf, who had designed the Jantzen Knitting Mills factories, to create the plans, but wife Emma threw a fit, saying that "no factory architect is going to design my house!"
Sundeleaf was then relegated to designing the island's bridge and boathouse. He also worked with Tommy Thompson, noted California designer of the Santa Anna racetrack gardens, to design the landscaping for the mansion gardens. The terraces, benches and arbors became the perfect setting for many outdoor recreational activities, including swimming parties that Jantzen hosted to display the latest swimming attire for his guests.
Named "Carneita" after the Jantzen children, Carl and Oneita, the completed estate reflected a medieval theme that matched the island's setting. The bridge and water lapping the island's edges conjured up visions of castle drawbridges and moats. Architects used stone, a tower and turrets to create the medieval motif.
Over the years, the island's owners have included Jerry Stubblefield, founder of Avia footwear; Carl Halvorson, developer of Mountain Park, who lived there for three decades; and Harry Coffee, an insurance agent.
The current owners are Rick and Erika Miller, who purchased the island in 2012. Rick Miller is a partner at Rogue Venture Partners and the founder and chairman of Avamere, a health care family of companies with 40 senior living communities throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Colorado.