As a resident of over two decades and a third generation owner of our Onyx Street family home, I wholeheartedly support the University Neighborhood being designated as a Historic District.
Since 1923, when my grandparents, Alfred and Nancy Lomax, purchased the first family home built on our block, our family has been aware of how sense of place and history gives one grounding in community. Alfred, a young professor in the UO School of Business and Nancy, with a Master’s Degree in Education, were part of the early neighborhood families that had longevity
of residence on the block. Both grandparents were part and fabric of the early Eugene community (Rotary, First Congregational Church, PEO and many other service organizations).
It was the early 80’s when Nancy, as a widow and on a fixed income, put the house on the historic register in Salem as suggested by EWEB for an upgrade in the low-income weatherization program. (She was in her 90’s at that time.) We have not found the designation restrictive for any other upgrades
since that time; in fact, it has been helpful in finding special programs aiding in improvements not only for historic residences, but for low income folks.
My daughter has grown up and enjoyed the quality education she received at Edison and Roosevelt Middle Schools in our neighborhood. Now graduating from college, she still has long-held friendships with children she grew up with from the South Eugene neighborhood. This is all good and part of a quality of life that I’d like to see continued with families now residing in our
I’d like future generations to have opportunities to own family homes and to
enjoy a place where there is still a connection with what went before and
with the present, knowing that the future of our neighborhood will not fall to encroachment of more apartments, lack of caring about “the commons” (what we share in community in terms of trees, open spaces, room for children to play, low crime rate, controlled traffic with lower speeds/fewer vehicles, access to the educational opportunities within walking distance and access to markets, etc.).
I’d like to envision a balanced understanding in community that there is more to a neighborhood than individual property rights and speculation from owners where monetary value is held above all else and zoning boundaries become meaningless as high density buildings are rationalized by growth needs or sheer greed at the expense of sustainability and a positive quality of life in the future of our neighborhood.
Our neighborhood has the same signs of encroachment I personally witnessed as a child in the Seattle University Neighborhood. The University District lost so much when the community was unable to stop the chipping away of the family homes in the Brooklyn Street neighborhood. It happened slowly at
first, with lower scale multi-unit apartments. The families left residing next door were either faced with selling out to plans for high rise units or sold because the quality of life had deteriorated with transient apartment
dwellers, escalating noise, loss of beauty and open spaces. Trees and landscaping were ripped out and areas paved over for large heat-sink parking lots– traffic patterns slowed as streets were widened and more vehicles
made use of the streets as a thoroughfare.
My brother and I still remember watching in amazement the last vestiges of houses being bulldozed in one day on a particular block…the land grab on Brooklyn only being stopped by the community where “Blessed Sacrament,” the large Catholic Church and School with its adjoining neighborhood between the University District and the I-5 Freeway, blocked further development. The
other major landmark “stopper” was the University Public Library, which still stands.
The University District itself lost local small businesses, both markets and small restaurants. Increases in crime, drug sales, garbage, noise, cruising traffic (more traffic) and general connections with people in community deteriorated to such an extent that police patrols became common sights and
University Heights Grade School eventually shut down for lack of population in the neighborhood. We were told not to walk alone in ‘the District’ and were not sent on errands to the local PayLess, which also went out of business, along with Woolworth’s and the deli that offered farm fresh produce. Historic buildings were not renovated on University Avenue but torn down with little left of the past replaced by storefronts that changed often, as businesses failed. Really a testimony to the deterioration of a district.
Although I don’t believe our district is in danger of being rampantly torn apart as quickly, I do believe we can be proactive in moving forward to protect our neighborhood from encroachment. I am for property values of family homes staying high, I’m for the character of our neighborhood being valued and the historic homes being maintained and improved, keeping our uniqueness of place intact. I’m for the beautiful landscaping and the wonderful trees and open spaces we enjoy. I’m for the future of Edison School and the children in our neighborhood. I’m for our small neighborhood businesses staying alive and well. I am whole-heartedly supportive of our neighborhood being designated as an historic district.
As a resident of Eugene for 90 years, I’ve seen Eugene grow from a small town to our present sprawling city. I am proud of our South University neighborhood. Designation as an Historic District should preserve South University as a desirable place to live and raise our families.
We strongly support of the creation of the South University Historic District. My wife, Cynthia, and I moved to this neighborhood in June, 2004. We’ve appreciated South University for its proximity to downtown Eugene, the cultural atmosphere engendered by the University of Oregon, and the real sense of pride and tradition amongst our neighbors.
We were especially thrilled to learn that our 1927 house was previously occupied by the late Senator Wayne Morse when he was a professor at the UO Law School. His legacy as a U.S. Senator reminds me of the influence Abraham Lincoln had in Illinois, where I grew up. Preservation of the the Senator’s home and neighborhood for future generations will preserve access to a deeper appreciation of our local history. The varied classic architecture and well-tended landscapes of the South University neighborhood serve as a remembrance of early Eugene and handsome backdrop for our diverse current university community population.
Sometimes I think it’s a little odd that the house we live in is best known as the “Wiper House.” After all, the Wipers haven’t lived here for decades. It’s this sense of history that makes this area so unique. But it’s not abstract history, this is the stuff you can feel and touch. A great-granddaughter of the Wipers who built our house is now a classmate of our daughter. These great old houses hold the memories of many lives past and the promise of many lives to come.
Our little house has been lucky to survive the wrecking ball. It’s a bit undersized by today’s McMansion standards, but it does have character. We did a small addition about 10 years ago that we took pains to keep historically sensitive. Advice from the City’s Historic Preservation staff would have been helpful and welcome. In fact, it’d be great if everyone had some guidance readily available when starting a home improvement project. I’m proud of this neighborhood and believe the best way to preserve it’s character is to support the Historic District nomination.
As a rental owner and resident of the proposed South University Historic District in Eugene, I look forward to our neighborhood’s future.
The historic district – a project that has involved more than 200 volunteers over the past seven years – will recognize a unique part of Eugene’s history and help us maintain the character of a lovely neighborhood. My rentals’ values should increase as renters choose to live in this attractive area.
With land values increasing more and more, small properties near the University are being torn down by developers who buy 3-4 adjacent parcels and build large apartment buildings, changing the character of the neighborhood.
With more than 100 historic districts in Oregon, it’s clear that the regulations that come with a historic district are designed to help property owners achieve their desired alterations in a manner that is compatible with the district. Without the educational process that comes with commonsense rules, we face a mishmash of architecture that is all too familiar in older historic neighborhoods with no protection.
We have raised our family in this neighborhood and support the South
University Historic District for several reasons:
- It maintains the integrity of the history of the neighborhood;
- It increases the economic value of homes by decreasing apartment and duplex development;
- The neighborhood is already surrounded by a large amount of student housing which blends well with the residential integrity of the South University Historic District
Historic preservation is a gift each generation passes along to those who follow. With it we tell our children and grandchildren something about where they came from and how their traditions and values – their sense of community – developed through our history. We are assured that a fair and democratic process has been followed in the district’s development and we are proud to join the majority of our neighbors who support the designation of the South University Historic District.
The “old beauties” that grace our neighborhood are irreplaceable. We must nurture them so as to preserve their character and charm. Historic preservation status will allow us to sustain our unique and lovely neighborhood.