Peacock Lane lights up with historic honor
If Peacock Lane's annual Christmas light display seems a little bit more historic this year, it's because the Southeast Portland neighborhood is now a historic place.
On Friday, Nov. 3, the four-block neighborhood between Southeast Stark and Belmont streets and Southeast Cesar Chavez Boulevard and 41st Avenue was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood was nominated to the national history list in mid-June.
Peacock Lane was named to the list as a historic district as an example of the "early automobile suburb" developed in just about every major city between 1830 and 1960.
Peacock Lane residents have worked for about a year to earn possible historic district status. Neighbors raised about $4,000 through Gofundme.com to fund the historic district nomination process, which involves hiring consultant Ernestina Fuenmayor Machado to write a detailed and lengthy report on the neighborhood's history, explaining why it should be a national historic landmark. They also tapped the collective spirit that turns the 33-house neighborhood into a brightly lit Christmas landscape each December.
The neighborhood plans to light this year's annual Christmas light display from Dec. 15 to 31. A pedestrian-only display is scheduled Dec. 15, 16 and 17.
An 88-page nomination form laid out the neighborhood's history. The five-acre development was the brainchild of architect and developer Richard F. Wassell, who bought the land in an area known as the Ex-Mayor Joseph Simon's Addition in the early 1920s for $21,500 (about $300,000 today).
Wassell's development included a four-block grid with a street running straight down the middle. Most of the 32 houses (and one four-plex) were constructed between 1924 and 1930 in the English Cottage, Colonial Revival or Tudor Revival styles. They included unusual amenities for new houses: driveways and garages for automobiles, which were becoming a big part of the region. The houses also had central heating systems and electric lights, unusual elements at the time.
Wassell had construction crews working on 20 houses at one time, something unheard-of for the time.