Many of our readers may remember the series of articles we have printed about the Martin Mayo House. You can find them on the Eliot Neighborhood Association website at eliotneighborhood.org. To recap, this Victorian house has had a very mobile history in our neighborhood moving three times to where it now stands at 236 NE Sacramento Street.
Back in the middle of 2018, the owners of the house were going to have the house demolished as they had sold the land to a developer who was going to build a new apartment complex. Enter, Cleo Davis, whose family has lived on the street since the 1980s. Just a few doors down to the east, where a little house sits at the back of the lot, is a piece of vacant land that once was occupied by an apartment building owned by Cleo’s grandmother. Unfortunately, the property, that was supposed to be income-producing for the family, was demolished in the late 1980s because of being deemed as blight.
Cleo is a local artist who was looking for a place to house the ARTchives which will focus on Black history in our neighborhood as well as other Black people who have made contributions to the community. When he saw that the house was going to be demolished, he went to work on buying the Mayo House, getting it moved down the street and then getting the property rezoned to accommodate businesses and residences. This was all accomplished by January of 2019 and the little house moved again, hopefully for the last time. It now sits on its new foundation awaiting renovation.
The history of the Davis family and the house move can be seen in a touching, short documentary called “Root Shocked” by Cecilia Brown, which can be found on Vimeo.
Most recently, potential ideas for renovations have been undertaken by the University of Oregon graduate students in the architectural program. Cleo co-instructed the course as students learned about the history of the neighborhood covering redlining and displacement. Then the students used the theories of spatial justice to draw up plans to build out the space using the existing Mayo House in the plans and provide community space and opportunities for displaced residents and artists. Each graduate student displayed creative uses of the space and house as final exam projects.
What the future holds for this historic home is uncertain as to the design and final architectural plans, but one thing is certain, this little house will not have to move ever again if Cleo Davis has any say in the matter. His grandmother can rest easy knowing that her property will be a place of community, provide financial security to her family and that future families will have a place to live that honors the past and provide bright opportunities for the future at the Martin Mayo House.