1890 Home Slated for Destruction

The Edwin Rayworth House - Built in 1890
The Edwin Rayworth House – Built in 1890

The Edwin Rayworth House

Another historic home in the Boise neighborhood nearby Eliot at 3605 N Albina is slated for demolition. A developer from Lake Oswego intends to replace this classic vintage home with a bland modern 2-family structure with a property split down the middle of the lot. This Queen Anne styled home is not a fancy Victorian era mansion but a decorative cottage, typical for a middle-classed resident in 1890. At the time this house was built, the Eliot, Boise, and King neighborhoods were within the limits of the City of Albina, consolidated by the City of Portland one year later.

Our early community was ethnically and culturally diverse. Even though most of the houses were small and modest, every home had unique architectural characteristics. During the decades from the 1960s to the ‘80s, most of the houses of this era have been lost from commercial development and urban decay. Today, the surviving Victorian-era charm is threatened by intense development pressure. Our unique architectural landscape is under attack by developers who are replacing historic structures with bigger modern structures that increase population density. The Rayworth House is in an exceptional state of architectural preservation even though it is run-down today. The tragedy here is that a good restoration opportunity has been taken away from the community by a developer from the suburbs who will profit from his project.

Back in 1890, Edwin Rayworth, a painting contractor and wallpaper hanger, built this house here on N Albina Avenue. Originally, Albina Avenue was called Massachusetts Street, but that name was changed in 1891 once inside the jurisdiction of Portland. Edwin Rayworth was born in Canada in 1860, and his parents were immigrants from England. In 1884, they came to the States and settled into lower Albina later in the 1880s where building activity was strong and his trade flourished. Mr. Rayworth was either never-married or a young widower and had no children and lived in the house until about 1933. Also in the 1890s, a young couple also lived in the household with Edwin. They were Edward and Emma Reichard. Both were from Pennsylvania and were only a few years younger than Edwin. Edward Reichard was a coffee salesman for Crown Coffee Company. It is not likely they were related, but they co-inhabited the house with Rayworth, who eventually turned over the title of the property to them and remained in the community through the 1930s. In 1941, the Reichards sold the house to Nick Schneider, who worked as a longshoreman, but he left at the end of World War II. Mabel Hinkson, the next owner, apparently lived elsewhere. By 1949, Thomas and Ora D. Flagg were the new owners and occupants. Thomas Flagg had a listed occupation as a “seaman” and remained here through the late 1980s. Around 1989, Norvell and Kathy Reed became the owners but lived elsewhere. In 2001, Dan Mohrmann purchased the house for his family. He had a vision to restore the house, which was in a state of disrepair, and started a slow restoration process. He worked in the trades and when the recession hit in 2008, the family went through financial hardship. Sadly, they lost the house from foreclosure from US Bank by 2010. In October, the property was acquired by Andrey Kashuba, the owner of Exceptional Homes by Andrey, Inc. based in Lake Oswego.

It is clear our old close-in neighborhoods are under attack from wealthy developers from the suburbs. We face architectural pillage by them because the city is promoting high density and has deaf ears for historic preservation. Portland has been noted for sustainable living, but the destruction of old buildings and replacement with modern structures is not sustainable and results in the waste of resources. The recent recession has created foreclosures on local residents, and developers have targeted these properties getting them at low prices and profiting from their destruction or radical alterations. Like the example 1890 house here, some of them are destroying historic buildings. This loss is great to the block here, and it is nearly the most original of the earliest houses built on the block. The historic buildings in our communities give us our sense of place and cultural memory. Our old neighborhoods help make Portland special and now in danger of becoming “anywhere USA”.

Roy Roos is the author of the book “The History of Albina”, available at Powells Books & Broadway Books

28 thoughts on “1890 Home Slated for Destruction

    1. I contacted Emmert International. Moving this house would cost about $100,000. That includes a foundation on another lot. A person with a lot can thus own this house for $100,000, which is a steal. Call Pat at Emmert. They might also store this house on their lot in Clackamas.

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    2. Sending the home to Clackamas would be cost prohibitive. The closer it is, the less cost in moving it, I am going to assume, at least.

      The architectural purists would say to be careful to the details, but seeing the pictures of it makes me think it’s not structurally sound to move as is. In other words, it would be best to be cut up into pieces with the old stuff scrapped. Just thinking practically. What’s important is preserving the facade character, in my opinion.

      This might be invasive to people, but one idea would be to go on google maps, find vacant land, then go to http://www.portlandmaps.com, find the owner and contact them if they want a home for their site.

      There are always economic aspects of this such as permits, increased property taxes, ability to sell a single-family unit, etc.

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  1. This is rampant in North Portland near UP. I have stopped counting the number of homes that have been either demolished and replaced with crap or the charming two bedroom family homes that are being converted to house 5-8 college students. Parking is a nightmare. UP does very little to curtail their impact on the neighborhood. The families and old-timers are moving out because they are tired of living next to frat houses.

    Just this last month a home at 4769 N. Harvard was demolished. It was built in the 1890s. It was on three lots and had a tree that was easily 80 years old. It was the biggest deciduous tree I have ever seen in my life. The home was not parted out and had amazing wood work and fixtures inside. The developer did allow training use by the fire dept. for which he probably got some favor or tax break. Too bad he couldn’t have called Habitat for Humanity too. Bob Kessi, a prolific builder/demolisher and landlord in this area has separated the lots and will now build three town homes, again no parking. The home next door is being expanded from three to six bedrooms and the one next to that has grown to 8 bedrooms. These homes do not fit the neighborhood and the continuous growth of UP has changed this place from a lovely working class neighborhood that felt safe and wonderful for children to a cesspool of overcrowded homes populated by UP students who urinate in yards, leave garbage wherever they see fit, vandalize property and in some cases much worse. I remember about 15 years ago the burbs were the place to be. Then people started moving into the city.

    I believe that the city’s policies on urban growth or rather, their max it out all to hell mentality will reverse the trends again. Soon the inner city bubble will burst and it will be back to gangs, drugs, and violence for many close-in neighborhoods. I understand what the greedy developers are all about and that is bad enough, but the city should really think about the authenticity and character of these neighborhoods before they approve permits for demolition and expansion. Needless to say, we are definitely moving as soon as the homes near us are completed. It’s difficult to sell when there is new construction all around.

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  2. This is rampant in North Portland near UP. I have stopped counting the number of homes that have been either demolished and replaced with crap or the charming two bedroom family homes that are being converted to house 5-8 college students. Parking is a nightmare. UP does very little to curtail their impact on the neighborhood. Just this last month a home at 4769 N. Harvard was demolished. It was built in the 1890s. It was on three lots and had a tree that was easily 80 years old. It was the biggest deciduous tree I have ever seen in my life. The home was not parted out and had amazing wood work and fixtures inside. The developer did allow training use by the fire dept. for which he probably got some favor or tax break. Too bad he couldn’t have called Habitat for Humanity too. Bob Kessi, a prolific builder/demolisher and landlord in this area has separated the lots and will now build three town homes, again no parking. The home next door is being expanded from three to six bedrooms and the one next to that has grown to 8 bedrooms. These homes do not fit the neighborhood and the continuous growth of UP has changed this place from a lovely working class neighborhood that felt safe and wonderful for children to a cesspool of overcrowded homes populated by UP students who urinate in yards, leave garbage wherever they see fit, vandalize property and in some cases much worse. I remember about 15 years ago the burbs were the place to be. Then people started moving into the city. I believe that the city’s policies on urban growth or rather, their max it out all to hell mentality will reverse the trends again. Soon the inner city bubble will burst and it will be back to gangs, drugs, and violence for many close-in neighborhoods. I understand what the greedy developers are all about and that is bad enough, but the city should really think about the authenticity and character of these neighborhoods before they approve permits for demolition and expansion. Needless to say, we are definitely moving as soon as the homes near us are completed. It’s difficult to sell when there is new construction all around.

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  3. Increased density is a policy of Metro.

    Their primary tool is the urban growth boundary. It forces the price of land UP to the point that infill is profitable. (That is also why our housing has become unaffordable.)

    If you support the urban growth boundary, necessarily you suppot infill. Can’t have it both ways.

    Thanks
    JK
    More at debunkingPortland.com

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  4. Someone please leave me a message at rondor@comcast.net, if I can help.
    I don’t have a lot of time or money. But I will donate whatever I can.to help save the historical architecture of our older neighborhoods.

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  5. I’ve noticed a lot of people interested and willing to save this property, even if they can’t afford to purchase it outright. I, too, would like to save the Edwin Rayworth house and see it either lived in by a caring family or turned into a business, in addition to being put on the historical register.

    At the risk of sounding grabby, I’d like to propose that we (read: anyone interested in preserving the building) start a fund to move it someplace instead of being torn down if the house can be inspected and is deemed saveable/moveable. I’m willing to donate time to contacting people and putting a fund together and organizing the timing schedule if there are enough interested people something can be done. I don’t want to see such a beautiful piece of Portland’s history be wasted if there is a strong chance we can save it.

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  6. The blame is to be squarely placed on the city/Metro planners and politicians that are so bent on infill. Infill is ruining our community at a rapid pace. It is beyond time to stand up to these planners and politicians so bent on running the quality or life.

    I personally don’t blame the developer, he’s just trying to make a buck in the existing system put in place by the city and Metro. Also, people from the suburbs aren’t bad, that type of tone doesn’t help matters at all. A very “Portlandia” attitude.

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  7. First of all, the city isn’t the problem. People complain when the city does too much (bike lanes or sewer systems) or not enough (historic preservation), and even that differs greatly. The anger or resentment should be more directly focused on the developer. Why are more of these post suggesting the city should be involved? How? If they put forth restrictions (or hell, even general policies) regarding limiting people’s abilities to develop, or even maintain their homes, people would scream bloody murder.

    Part (if not most) of the blame rests on the previous owners who should have registered or maintained it as a historic structure. If they had registered it, or even maintained it in a reasonable manner, the developer wouldn’t have purchased the lot. If the community was so concerned about it, they could have posted the property as a nuisance and then the city would have the authority to force a clean up of the property. Or, they could have stepped in an bought it.

    I totally agree with the sentiment that it is very sad to see a historic structure like this torn down in favor of bland, high-profit, absentee developed infill housing, but this isn’t on the city. There are oodles of historic registration and preservation alternatives through, federal, state, and local agencies, the responsibilties of the precious owners, and the communities vocal opposition directly to the developer that come long before you should be blaming the city of Portland urban growth policies.

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