BEE readers find more homes moved for Sellwood playground
At the end of May, 1925, plans for the new Sellwood School (kindergarten through eighth grade) were being finalized by Portland School District #1 architect George H. Jones. Amenities for the new school included twenty-two rooms, two gymnasiums, a library, an auditorium, and â€“ as mentioned in the last issue of THE BEE â€“ indoor restrooms!
The new, modern, concrete building â€“ still in use â€“ would replace the old wooden one, because even with the addition of portable classrooms, it was bursting with almost 800 pupils, all from the area south of Malden Street. Ground for the new school was broken in late summer of 1925, and it was ready for occupancy in 1926. The school â€“ today known as Sellwood Middle School â€“ included a new, separate playground on the block to the south â€“ between S.E. Harney and Sherrett Streets, and between 15th and 16th Avenues.
Site preparation for the playground required removal of all eighteen houses then occupying Block 66, which were moved onto new lots in the neighborhood. I was surprised, when I came across this 1925 story, that the dispersal of so many structures was so casually mentioned. I was equally surprised that the property owners were apparently so willing to sell. A few left the neighborhood; others had their houses moved, and resumed residence; other houses were moved and then used as rental properties, after their owners purchased a different house.Trying to finde if any of the eighteen wandering dwellings had survived the ensuing 96 years was a research challenge. After the initial clue, I did some more digging through archives of THE BEE on microfilm at the recently reopened Ledding Library in downtown Milwaukie, and was pleased to find two of the pre-1925 houses, which I told you about in these pages last month. Additional research ensued and two more dwelling have been located! But I also came across a single unsatisfied property owner.
Mrs. Emma Lingo was not happy. Her rental house faced Harney Street, and she disagreed with the $2,300 she had been offered for it by the School District. The price that local realtor Harold Sellwood had negotiated on behalf of the school board was inadequate, as far as the widow Lingo was concerned. However, in early May, 1925, "Condemnation proceedings were filed in Circuit Court by School District No. 1, and the County School Board" against Mrs. Lingo. No further information was to be found as to the resolution of the case. Ms. Lingo lived in Corvallis by this time, so perhaps she changed her mind â€“ or was offered more money. In any case, her house followed the seventeen others that were moved.
In the November article I appealed to any readers who thought their houses might be one of "The Eighteen", and I am pleased to report that two more survivors have been found. The first is at 2016 S.E. Sherrett Street. Its current owner was told by a long-time resident and neighbor, who has since passed away, that her house was moved for construction of the school (or playground). Also, it was said that the new basement for the house was excavated by a team of horses. While I have not been able to confirm this through my usual resources (there is no plumbing record for the house on the city's website), I know that the lot on which it is located was one of the few empty ones in 1925, as indicated on a Sanborn fire insurance company map. While I always try to confirm oral history accounts, I don't have enough details â€“ such as the property owner's name in 192 â€“ which would provide a starting point. However, the fact that this address was one of the few empty lots on Sherrett Street in 1925, and the verbal account from a long-time resident, makes the account very probable, and encourages me to watch for future references.
The second newly-discovered house was owned by a man named Philip Schneider who was listed in the 1925 article in THE BEE as the owner of a house on Block 66. Like Mrs. Lingo, this was probably a rental property, as Mr. Schneider and his wife lived on S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard at the time. However, while doing additional searching in the archives of THE BEE, I spotted a single reference (May, 1925) that stated: "Philip Schneider has moved one of the residences from the school grounds to 1755 [now 8635] E. 13th, corner of Marion." Fortunately, a plumbing permit for this house at its new address, dated May 6, 1925 was visible on the city's website â€“ which read "house moved from 1715 E. 16th and reconnected to sewer." That old, pre-1933 street number is visible on the 1924-25 Sanborn map. Like many of its companions on Block 66, this was a small, one story "old frame residence", and fairly easy to move.
I am also pleased that the Ledding Library has re-opened, with a top-of-the-line microfilm reader! Both Sellwood and Milwaukie librarians collaborated to transfer the files of THE BEE when the old microfilm equipment in the Sellwood Library could not be salvaged -- and for which, due to limited space and usage, the cost of replacement equipment could not be justified.
The accommodations in Milwaukie include a large working area, ample parking (plus bus service, MAX light rail, and a bike trail between Sellwood and Milwaukie, along 17th) â€“ and THE BEE joins collections of historic Clackamas County newspapers on microfilm there.
Happy Holidays, and a Healthy and Peaceful New Year to All!
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