Progressive preservation keeps Portland old

The growth and development changes in the inner city has aspects to be embraced as well as others to resist. A group of neighbors in inner SE Portland are trying a different angle to guide this flood of change as it arrives in their neighborhood.

The members of the 16th Ave. LLC: Harriet Bing, Susannah Gavin, Peter Borden and Chris Lamb are doing their part to preserve their Buckman neighborhood attempting a grassroots development to preserve a 1907 home on a street where other homes on the block date back as far as 1887.

Original owner Norman “George” Barker, wanted his property to stay as much as it was as possible. The house was originally built as a five-plex in 1907 that Barker bought from his wife’s parents.

Now his neighbors are enlisting the aid of social media and old-school community action by launching an crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to pay for the permit package, retrofitting basement supports and a new roof keep the home viable in the 21st century.

The launch party for their crowdfunding is Sunday April 3, at 3 pm at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St. The public is invited to take part by making a small donation as soon as the crowdfunding link goes live at 4 pm, and to claim an incentive gift for your donation. The link is at the end of the article.

Originally the neighbors’ goal was to maintain the five-plex as it was, with a light renovation of the apartments for modest change and to create a little income.

Reality set in with the first bathroom repair and grew with alarming speed. It was evident that even bringing it up to code would be a major undertaking, financially out of reach. Many observers advised them to “tip it over” and bring it to its “highest and best use” by developing many more units on the same footprint.

Instead, the team has opted for progressive preservation: approaching change to preserve not only the original building, but to promote new ways of working in community.

The end result will be the neighbors will restore the five plex into five new condos with five new owners in the same building that has been there since 1907.

“We live here and are just trying to stay in our homes with neighbors who care about the neighborhood too,” said Harriet Bing.

At the party, the legendary Hawaiian food of Ate-oh-Ate will be served. Great videos by Tim Scotten will screen and live music from Irish band Na Rosai will fill the air.

Enter by the door on the southwest side of the building, near Martha’s Café where there will be a no-host after party during happy hour, downstairs from Revolution Hall on the second floor.

The  crowdfunding link is at

Progressive preservation keeps Portland old

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