Kessi, Browne honored with Preservation Merit Award
The City of Lake Oswego's Historic Resources Advisory Board handed out two awards at the City Council's meeting Tuesday to individuals who have gone above and beyond to preserve the historic character of Lake Oswego.
Pat Kessi of PHK Development — the company behind The Windward — and Mark Browne of the Oswego Heritage Council were both honored with the city's Preservation Merit Award for their efforts to help safeguard the community's history.
Associate City Planner Paul Espe and HRAB co-chair Char Green addressed the City Council to outline the ways in which both Kessi and Browne have helped promote a sense of community culture in their work as a developer and archivist.
Kessi's award stems from his involvement in preserving the Wizer mosaics, a set of two mosaics by artist Walter Graham which were commissioned by the Wizer family back in 1960. For more than 50 years the mosaics sat in the former Lake Oswego shopping center downtown where The Windward now stands.
The community's attachment to the mosaics proved powerful to Kessi, who commissioned Portland-based artist Jason Jones to restore the mosaics and reinstall them in the new building near the entrance to the parking garage.
The restoration project cost about $20,000, according to Kessi, who also used reclaimed wood from the Wizer Block for beams and benches and saved the historic lamp posts that once lined the shopping center's parking lot.
"We really wanted all of that to become part of the future of Lake Oswego," he told The Review in July 2018.
Espe told the council that city staff and HRAB are both grateful for the successful effort of Kessi and Jones to restore and preserve this important piece of the city's history.
Mark Browne's contribution to historic preservation is almost too large to put into words. The number of projects that Browne has contributed to in the past few years can't be counted on two hands, and he continues to volunteer his time and efforts to ensuring the memory of the former Oswego and subsequently Lake Oswego are not forgotten.
"We're honoring Dr. Mark Browne for his dedication and research skills in archiving Lake Oswego's written history," Espe said. "Mark is a self-taught archivist, who has been involved with the physical renovations of the heritage house, helping to add a new museum area, archive and research room."
Browne moved to Lake Oswego with his wife after a long career in dentistry. He initially got involved with the Oswego Heritage Council as a "fun thing to do," but quickly fell down the rabbit hole of projects to preserve and archive some of the most important documents and photos from both the city and Lake Oswego's historic families.
Some of Browne's work includes parcing together a spoken work project from tapes recorded by Lake Oswego poet Theresa Truchot. He worked with the Lake Oswego Ice Creamery and Restaurant to line their walls with historical photographs and to create a mural paying homage to the town's past. Last year he completed a riveting photo project called "Now and Then" showing how Lake Oswego has changed and developed over the years.
Most recently, Browne collaborated with Youth Villages Oregon on "Our Legacy, Our Future," a project that documented the history of the former Christie School for orphaned girls that operated for more than a 100 years on the Mary's Woods campus.
According to Youth Villages Development Associate Sierra Parsons, Browne played an integral role in shaping the project that now lines the hallways of their facility at Mary's Woods that still serves to help children dealing with family instability and homelessness across Oregon.
"Mark is the absolute best, and the entire Oswego Heritage Council has been so generous and gracious in their help with time and resources," Parsons said.