Eighty years ago, on May 3, 1937, a new library opened at the University of Oregon and on October 23, 1937, the building was formally dedicated.  The historic building is a monument to the Depression Era public works programs which financed its construction and remains one of Oregon’s best examples of integrated art and architecture.  This guide is intended to provide a foundation of historical information for the additional study and contemplation of the building and its art.



Wentworth Villa (1863), site of the Conference’s Paper Sessions on June 17.

The Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historian’s 2017 conference program has been completed!  The program and registration information are available here.  Note that in the program all the underlined references in blue are weblinks.  You can click them for further details.  To register online with Eventbrite click here.

This year’s conference will be in Victoria, BC.  Inspired by a variety of anniversary celebrations being held in Canada, the conference theme is “Commemorations.”  The conference will begin with a walking tour on Friday, June 16, and end with a boat tour on Sunday, June 18.  In between will be a reception, more touring, a banquet, and of course, paper presentations.  All is described in the conference program.

The key dates are as follows:

May 30, 2017 – Registration deadline without a late fee
June 10, 2017 – Deadline for off-site registration
June 16-18, 2017 – Conference in Victoria

Updates and further information can be found on the SAH MDR website at:


Over the first two weeks in April, the University of Oregon Historic Preservation Program will host talks by four emerging scholars in our field. Friends of the program are invited to attend these presentations in our classroom space, room 442, on floor 4R of the White Stag Building or via videoconference from Eugene in Lawrence Hall (rooms noted below.)
Please join us for what promises to be an interesting set of conversations!
12:30 pm – Thursday, April 6th
White Stag room 442 / Lawrence Hall 249 
Dr. Yasha Rodriguez will present her work in Cultural Resources Management in both Puerto Rico and Florida.  As a lawyer and a professional archaeologist, Dr. Rodriguez has studied and worked to preserve a variety of historic sites, including the ancient ball courts and social spaces of native Caribbean peoples known as bateyes.
Dr. Rodriguez has a Ph.D. in Archaeology and Historic Preservation from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico.  She worked for several years in the Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and is currently Supervisor of the Historic Preservation Grants Program for the Division of Historical Resources in Florida Department of State.
12:30 pm – Wednesday, April 12th
White Stag room 442 / Lawrence Hall 263 
Dr. Brent Fortenberry is an architectural historian and preservationist with research interests in the vernacular architecture of North America and the Caribbean.  He is an expert in building recording techniques, including both traditional methods and new digital technologies.
Dr. Fortenberry has a Ph.D. in Archaeology from Boston University and a Master’s of Science in Historic Preservation from Clemson University.  He is an Adjunct Professor in Clemson’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation in the School of Architecture as well as Associate Director of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in the Clemson University’s Restoration Institute in Charleston, South Carolina.
12:30 pm – Thursday, April 13th
White Stag room 442 / Lawrence Hall 249 
Dr. Gabrielle Harlan is an architect and architectural historian with more than ten years of professional experience in historic preservation in the American West.  Dr. Harlan’s research interests include the use of Native American building types by Anglo architects in the stylistic revivals of the early nineteenth century and the work of Judith Chafee and other women architects in the western U.S.
Dr. Harlan, who is currently a lecturer in the Architecture Department at University of Oregon, has a Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture and a Master’s in Architecture  from the University of Virginia.  She was previously a Principal Associate at Chattel, Inc. in southern California and a historical architect at Yosemite National Park.

The George McMath award will be presented to the Salem-based nonprofit, which strives to recognize African American pioneers in Oregon.

When Willie Richardson moved from South Carolina to Oregon in 1978, she came with her three sisters and their families. Though the five adults and six kids traveled in cars rather than in a covered wagon, as African Americans from the South moving West to reinvent their lives, they were akin to pioneers.

Forty years later, the Oregon Black Pioneers, a group Richardson has shepherded since 2004, is being honored with the 2017 George McMath Historic Preservation Award, presented annually by the UO Historic Preservation Program in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

The award will be presented at a luncheon beginning at 11:30 am Wednesday, May 17, at the White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch Street in Portland. Tickets, which cost $50, may be ordered online after March 16 at hp.uoregon.edu/mcmath. For information, call 541-346-3697.

The Oregon Black Pioneers board of directors (first row, left to right):
Suesann Abdelrasul, treasurer; Natalia Fernandez, collections (in red print dress); Janet Jacquier, internship recruitment development (seated, beige sweater); Zoe Morrison, chair of marketing; Willie Richardson, president; Gwen Carr, secretary. Back row (left to right): Tatianna Bryant, co-chair, virtual museum development; Jonathan Cain, chair, virtual museum development; Martha Rutherford, chair, board development; Kim Moreland, vice president.

Since 1993, the Oregon Black Pioneers has produced publications, exhibitions, conferences, and stage productions, delivered presentations in classrooms and boardrooms, recognized burial sites of black pioneers in Oregon, and published two books, Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon’s Marion and Polk Counties, and African Americans of Portland.

The group was recently asked to help with the UO’s plans to create a Black Cultural Center.

In partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office, Oregon Black Pioneers has documented historic sites statewide that have been centers of African American population. The long-term goal is to prepare a National Register of Historic Places’ multiple property document for the whole state.

“We want to bring the story of African Americans in Oregon alive,” Richardson said, “and make sure that not just our children who look like us but everybody sees the value of and how we are part of the fabric of this state we all call home.”

Researching the history of blacks in Oregon is often sobering, Richardson said.  “As you delve into it you are really humbled by what the folks who cleared the pathway for you did, even against horrendous circumstances and obstacles placed in their way,” Richardson said. “You feel honored to tell their stories because it’s their stories and their lives that made it possible for us to be here in this state.”

“All Aboard: Railroading and Portland’s Black Community,” the group’s exhibition held at the Oregon Historical Society in 2013, focused on the African American community around Portland’s Union Station from the 1800s to 1940s. The exhibit was later displayed in Salem and Eugene.

Oregon Black Pioneers is now working to mount “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years,” which will be on display at The Oregon History Museum starting in January 2018.

The prestigious McMath Award “will elevate us to another layer of outreach to other folks out there and hopefully some of them will want to become involved,” Richardson said.  “We are delighted that, for the first time, the McMath Award recognizes an organization rather than an individual,” noted James Buckley, director of the UO’s Historic Preservation Program. “It has required a true team effort for the Oregon Black Pioneers to locate and celebrate the many pieces of African American history in this state, and we are excited to highlight their many accomplishments.”


Pueblo archaeological site at Bandelier National Monument

Pueblo archaeological site at Bandelier National Monument. Photo by Diana Painter.

by SAH/MDR President Diana Painter

Commemorations! Anniversaries! Celebrations!  The theme of this year’s SAH/MDR conference is commemorations.  I had the good fortune last summer to attend a celebratory symposium of the 100-year anniversary of the US National Park Service and the 50-year anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act in Santa Fe, NM entitled, “A Century of Design in the Parks.”  I joined like-minded National Park Service employees, State Parks employees, consultants and academics to discuss and debate the future of our professional practices and the future of our parks, with a particular focus on preserving the built environment.  It was a privilege to contemplate questions of conservation of natural resources and preservation of the built environment in our amazing parks resources with these colleagues.  In three intense days, two tracks of investigations were explored, the enormous contribution of the Civilian Conservation Corps to our parks, and legacy of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program.  Overarching themes were also explored, such as “Assessing Climate Vulnerability in Cultural Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest” (Robert Melnick and Noah Kerr, University of Oregon) and “Landscape Processes and Cultural Resources” (Laurie Matthews, MIG, Portland).

The NPS Region III Headquarters in Santa Fe is the largest Adobe office building in the U.S. Built in 1937-39 by the CCC.

The NPS Region III Headquarters in Santa Fe is the largest Adobe office building in the U.S. Built in 1937-39 by the CCC. Photo by Diana Painter.

I look forward to similarly rich discussions at our conference in Victoria, June 16-18, 2017, at the newly restored, 1863 Wentworth Villa.  We will help our fellow Canadians celebrate their 150-Celebration and – I anticipate – also explore our common concerns with preserving our architectural and landscape history through research, documentation and – celebration! Victoria offers a rich environment in which to explore these topics, with its layered cultural history and beautiful buildings and parks, all in a spectacular natural setting. Please consider joining us in Victoria.

Friendly reminder – Abstracts are due March 15th for conference papers.  Please remember that travel scholarships and free memberships are available to students whose papers are accepted for the conference.  Visit our website for more information and the Call for Papers: http://sahmdr.org/conference.html

In addition to our very own Annual Conference (remember, Victoria, B.C., June 16-18), there are a number of interesting events coming up in March and April.

Portland, Oregon:

Kingston W. Heath, Professor Emeritus will be talking about Nostalgic and Authentic Statements of Place: Interpreting the Industrial Vernacular on March 3, 2017 at noon, at the University of Oregon’s White Stag Building, Room 442.  See the flyer: heath-poster

Seattle, Washington:

Historic Seattle offers great programs throughout the year.  Of particular note are two lectures in March and April.  On Saturday, March 25, Stephen Gee will present a lecture on Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Seattle and Los Angeles.  On Saturday, April 29, Matthew Williams, the curator of Cardiff Castle in Wales will present TWO lectures in one afternoon.  Exploring British 19th Century Architecture and Interior Design will be followed by Ghastly Good Taste: A Century of British Interior Design 1880-1980.  The Stephen Gee and Matthew Williams lectures will both take place at The Chapel Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North.  The cost is $25.00 for members of Historic Seattle and $35.00 for the general public.
For full program listings: historic-seattle-2017-programs

The Northwest Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) will hold a workshop on Water Repellents & Historic Masonry on Saturday, April 29th at the Stimson-Green Mansion Carriage House in Seattle.  The use of water repellents on historic masonry is a divisive topic. Knowledgeable professionals who generally abide by the same preservation principles often confront a difference of opinion on the use of water repellent systems on historic buildings. One school of thought encourages the use of water repellents as a means to improve material performance, facilitate building cleanliness and protect the envelope from moisture intrusion. Another school of thought posits that water repellents will alter water vapor transmission systems that have been in place for decades, introducing the potential for deleterious short-and long-term effects. The goal for this event is to engender a lively discussion of water repellent systems by dispelling misconceptions, educating participants on the science of repelling water, and sharing case studies of historic masonry buildings with and without water repellent interventions.  The all-day event will feature several speakers and presenters.  Event details:  aptnw-water-repellant-workshop-final-flyer

Salt Lake City, Utah:

The Rocky Mountain Chapter, in cooperation with the Western and Pacific Northwest Chapters, of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI) is hosting Mesa to Mountain: Preservation in the American West on March 23-25 in Salt Lake City.  The two-day symposium will include paper sessions, tours, and a keynote address focusing on western sites, materials, and conditions.  Symposium details: mesa-to-mountain-save-the-date-1



The Construction History Society of America is holding a 2017 meeting in Seattle.  The event, which will be hosted by the UW’s Departments of Construction Management, Architecture, and the College of Built Environments will focus on “Construction History on the Frontier,” and will take place from July 20-22.  The keynote speakers are slated to be:  Jeffrey Ochsner (University of Washington), Mike Lombardi (The Boeing Company), Knute Berger (Crosscut) and Jon Magnusson (MKA Magnusson Klemencic Associates).

For more on CHSA and details of the Seattle meeting as they develop, go to http://www.constructionhistorysociety.org/.