Historic Districting (SUHD)

The South University Historic District nomination is on hold.

Opponents successfully stalled the nomination for four years and inundated the Keeper of the National Register with hundreds of pages of objections. The Keeper returned the nomination in late 2005, requesting that the survey of historic resources, started in 2000, be renewed and that the nomination process start over.

The Keeper did not comment about verifying and tallying letters of
opposition. In addition, the Keeper did not address the legality of
converting properties into multiple trusts to generate more letters of opposition, including trusts representing minors with 1% interest each inthe properties.

In the meanwhile, here are details about the proposed district.

How We Grew:

The proposed South University Historic District connects important pieces
of Eugene’s history, from the Masonic Cemetery at the south to the Pioneer
Cemetery at the north, and to the University of Oregon, which boasts the
largest collection of historic buildings of any site in the state.

The Kalapuya Native Americans may have been early inhabitants of this area, as a dozen bands made their home in the Willamette Valley before the Euro-American exploration of the 1800s spelled their demise, either through disease, conflicts with settlers, or forced relocation.

Fielding McMurry, a Kentucky native who crossed the plains to Oregon in1851, filed a 191-acre donation land claim for this area in 1866 and later purchased an additional 320 acres to the east. Over time portions of his farm property were sold to became the South University neighborhood, the two cemeteries and the University of Oregon campus. His son’s Gothic Revival house, built circa 1885, remains in the neighborhood.

The announcement of plans in 1906 for an electric streetcar line near the University of Oregon signaled the development of  South University neighborhood which was largely made up of fields and orchards at that time. The streetcar system spurred local businessmen to purchase a large tract of land which was subdivided in 1907 as Gross’s Addition. The 420 lots ran from 18th to 23rd and from Alder to Agate; prices ranged from $50 to $500, with lots on University and Potter commanding the higher prices.

While the streetcar only operated for 20 years, the neighborhood thrived. Growth was slow from 1907 to 1920, then boomed as good economic times, population growth in Eugene and campus expansion all increased the demand for housing.

Close to 40 percent of the houses in the neighborhood were built during the 1920s and by 1950, almost every lot in the area had been developed. Today the neighborhood contains an eclectic mix of early to mid-20th century home. Homes range widely in size and degree of architectural detail, with the so-called “high style” houses concentrated in the center of the district and houses becoming more modest on the streets near the eastern and western edges of the district.

While only a few of the houses within the neighborhood would be eligible for listing on the National Register because of their individual merits, the district as a whole represents a distinctive and significant collection of period housing. The neighborhood contains both single and multifamily homes dating from 1885 to 1950 and falling into four major categories or architectural styles: late 19th Century vernacular forms, Bungalow and Craftsman homes, Period Revival styles and Early Modern styles of the 1940s.

Proposed Historic District Map: