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Lake Oswego, I am disappointed. Your failure to preserve the quaint near-downtown area will obliterate any beauty in your corner of suburbia.

COURTESY PHOTO: JIM MCCARTHY  - Jim McCarthy's childhood home in First Addition was recently demolished. In 1974, my family moved to Lake Oswego. Back then, the town was really pretty. The First Addition was full of adorable cottages and bungalows from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. The First Addition could be described as charming and quaint. They were affordable homes, owned by schoolteachers, mechanics, landscape architects, poets, postal workers; people of modest means could afford homes in the First addition and Forest Hills. In all, the First Addition and the Forest Hills neighborhood had character.

My dad was a law enforcement agent. He and my mom bought a home on Sunningdale Road near Andrews. It was a 1956 rambler in brick. It was deceptively large but unassuming - it had about 2,800 square feet of living space on the ground floor and 1,400 squares in the finished basement.

It had 3 bedrooms upstairs and 2 downstairs. The upstairs bedrooms were about 14 feet square, and the master was about 16x16. We could roller skate in the basement. The home was grand, but not ostentatious. It was a sensible 1950s family home.

(About 4 years ago, the basement was remodeled with the addition of complete kitchen and laundry accommodations and its own separate entrance.)

It was set back from the street by a front yard so large you could put a baseball infield in it. I should know; I became responsible for mowing it when I was about 13. During family gatherings we played Wiffle ball, badminton and croquet in that yard.

I stayed there until I moved out in 1989, and my parents left in 1993.

The home next door was also a midcentury ranch in brick. It was bulldozed. The roughly half-acre lot was split in two. One building which replaced it was a modern faux farmhouse/craftsman in monochrome gray. The other is under construction. Each has a postage stamp for a front yard.

Many cottages and bungalows in the First Addition have been razed and replaced at breakneck pace by 4-bed-5-bath status symbols with open floorplans, 10-foot ceilings, 3-car garages and front yards so small a little girl could barely play hopscotch in any of them.

They are monstrosities built by people who must have more money than they have sensitivity to neighborhood character. They range from the Frank Lloyd Wright-wannabe to the ultramodern-minimalist-shipping-container to the faux-English-Country-Estate-with-balustrade gaudy. William Stafford's cottage was razed and replaced by a faux-cape-cod mishmash in gray. These new houses scream, "Look at me, I'm fancy!"

I would think you'd have some regulation in place to ensure that new or replacement construction in the city would hew to some architectural standard to maintain neighborhood character. Apparently I was wrong or gave the city too much credit.

Lake Oswego, I am disappointed. Your failure to preserve the quaint near-downtown area will obliterate any beauty in your corner of suburbia. As far as I can tell, Lake Oswego lost its soul long ago. Schoolteachers, librarians, mechanics, policemen, postal workers and other real working-class people like my parents could likely never afford to buy a home in First Addition or Forest Hills now.

As for my childhood home? It was bulldozed two weeks ago. I am sure another Status Symbol Monstrosity like the others will replace it.

There are plenty of lovely people with whom I grew up who still live in Lake Oswego, but the city itself has been fully Californicated.

Jim McCarthy is Sherwood resident.

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