Preserving the past and improving the future in Lake Oswego
When John McCulloch with the McCulloch Foundation received a call from the Lake Oswego Preservation Society about saving an old home built in 1910, McCulloch couldn't let it be bulldozed after seeing the character and history it possessed.
The McCulloch Foundation, formed by John, is a nonprofit organization that preserves historic buildings in Oregon and then remodels them. The foundation also works on affordable housing opportunities through the "sharewell model," which transforms homes into a shared housing community where people who've faced similar challenges buy into the property with a guaranteed rate of return.
Since it was established in 2016 the foundation has purchased and remodeled 20 historic homes, including the Lake Oswego Home at 49 Briarwood Road.
In 2015, McCulloch was in contact with the Lake Oswego Preservation Society — a nonprofit organization that works to preserve, protect and advocate for the City's built heritage — and the home's developer. When he found out about the society's attempt to save the house from being demolished, he said he had two days to decide whether to purchase the home. McCulloch wrote a check to buy the property for about $600,000 after briefly viewing it.
"Historic homes create a sense of place and community that people kind of forget," said McCulloch, adding that when all the historic homes are gone in an area, "it feels like Everywhere, USA."
McCulloch said it's especially important to preserve older homes in cities like Lake Oswego.
"We know that this huge amount of change is coming to the greater Portland metro area. (It) has been one of the hottest places for real estate investors in the country," McCulloch said.
He added that when that change happens, which is inevitable, the mission of the foundation is to steward thoughtful alterations to the built environment and build affordable homes to alleviate the homeless problem throughout the area.
While the Lake Oswego home is not built to be an affordable home, McCulloch said preserving it benefits the environment and the area's history.
"The greenest house is the one that already exists," McCulloch said. "For the economy, it's that when you have a really neat old tradition like Lake Oswego has with the great old homes throughout, that gives the community a sense of place, that makes it valuable."
Rachel Verdick, president of the society, agrees with McCulloch and said historic home preservation is important to the City's history as well as the future with regards to sustainability.
"In Lake Oswego there aren't a lot of houses built in the 1910 era and it was still in very good condition," Verdick said. "It was an opportunity to save a piece of our history."
McCulloch said bungalows are popular in Oregon and the Briarwood home includes rustic materials and stones, and also gives off a Timberline Lodge vibe.
"It has the warmth, uniqueness and craftsmanship," McCulloch said, adding that the Briarwood home hails from the bygone era, where people took more time and effort to create beautiful homes. "There's this amazing hand-done masonry on the house with big rocks."
The house was also designed by the well-known Portland architect Joseph Jacobberger and is about 3,000 square feet with three bedrooms.
The home was remodeled to be put on the market and will be listed just below $1.5 million.
"When you go about trying to prevent the fabric of society from being torn down, typically the approach is to educate people or advocate, and our model is just action," McCulloch said. "That's been so much more effective … It's amazing how much effort goes into educating people in general about architecture to try to save it, but it's possible to both have people interested in profit motives and doing the right thing."
The McCulloch Foundation was a recipient of the Lake Oswego Preservation Society's Morgan Award, which Verdick said is given to members of the community who have made significant strides in preserving Lake Oswego's built environment.
Verdick said the society gave the award to "John and the McCulloch Foundation for helping step in and purchase and do rehabilitation work in such a respectful manner."
"I think what I like about that remodel is he really maintained the craftsmanship that could be found within structure," said Verdick, adding that it's now a very livable house for a modern-day family. "Historic homes, they add to our sense of place and they are a physical representation of our community's history so I feel they're very valuable, and when you have the home that has been cared for and truly unaltered, I think they warrant special attention. It's very exciting to me that John stepped in and did this."
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