Community fights to save historic Oregon home from becoming parking lot

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

The fate of a historic home in Oregon is generating a lot of buzz throughout the community.

The Village of Oregon recently announced plans to either tear down the property at 146 Main St. or move it to make way for more parking in a growing downtown area. But many opposed to the idea say accommodating new developments shouldn't mean destroying what's come before them.

"The craftsmanship in these buildings is extraordinary, " said Bonnie Thiel. The business owner just opened her restaurant Mason's on Main last Thursday. She's one of several entrepreneurs who have renovated buildings in Oregon's Historic District. But as the layout of the improved downtown plays catch up with the new businesses moving in, available parking has been an issue.

"It's been a concern of other business owners," Thiel said. "When we are 100 percent occupied, what's going to happen with parking?"

That's where 146 Main St. comes in. Known as the "Ames Home," historians believe it was built in the late 1800s, and that its first owners were descendants of Nathaniel Ames, Oregon's only Revolutionary War veteran.

When word of moving the home spread, many feared the downtown would lose a piece of its past.

"That's kind of the reason why people are concerned that something of that value would be removed for purposes of parking, " Erin Peterson said, a member of Oregon's Historic Preservation Commission.

Peterson wants the village to consider other options for parking, like reconfiguring lots behind buildings.

"There's always the question, if they're going to tear down this one, well then where do we stop," Peterson said. "Eventually parking needs could grow again and what do we do then? It does have the potential of starting a pattern if one house is torn down, then there could be others in the future."

The village administrator wouldn't comment on where the board is at in negotiations. NBC 15 did speak to the owners of the home. They declined to go on camera, but say this whole situation has been incredibly difficult for them because of what they say, is the negative attention surrounding their home. The family believes at this point the village is no longer going to buy the property because of the pressure from the community.

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