Relocating Architectural Heritage
The 1928 Arts and Crafts-style home was headed for demolition. Located just outside the bounds of the Medford Downtown Historic District, the house and adjoining lots were all scheduled to be razed to accommodate a new parking lot. Like Superman swooping down from a skyscraper to save a maiden in distress, Bruno and Gisele Goossens made a bold move to keep the home alive.
"When I saw the mouldings and the architecture, I said to myself that I couldn't let the house be destroyed," says Bruno, who, along with his wife, renovated and inhabit Jacksonville's 1915 Livingston Mansion. "So I called the city to find out what to do and ended up bidding a dollar more than the demolition bid."
Voila! They were now proud owners of a piece of Rogue Valley's rich architectural history. "Is it something to say congratulations about?" Bruno asks. "Yes and no. It's important to save this heritage and it's also a lot of work."
The work started immediately, with Doc's House Moving Inc. in Central Point physically transporting the old beauty to her new plot in Jacksonville. To clear power lines and tall trees, the home was moved in two parts. One truck hauled the main portion of the 1,700 square foot building, the second shipment included the roof and a four-foot section cut off the side of the living room.
While he was building a new foundation for the house, Bruno had it placed 4 feet above the ground on two huge I-beams, supported and controlled by six hydraulic jacks. A month later, the house was lowered onto its new footprint and the renovation began.
The Goossens were careful to save every possible piece of wood from the original structure. Lining the living room is an elaborate five-piece moulding, newly cleaned and sealed, that features a plate shelf. Although much of the lathe and plaster walls were damaged in the move, Bruno and "plaster master" Bill Hawley of Jacksonville replastered it in a light, buttery yellow indicative of the Arts and Crafts style.
Although the interior of the house is far from finished, the Douglas fir floor is as close to as it was nearly 80 years ago, when the renowned and prolific southern Oregon architect Frank Chamberlain Clark designed the house. "The moving of the house is part of its history and we didn't want to hide anything," Bruno says of a wooden seam down the floor on one side of the living room.
An example of at least 78 residences in the Rogue Valley that were designed by Clark, the Goossens' home is part of a significant regional heritage.
"Southern Oregon has a great tradition in many communities of embracing historic character," says George Kramer, historic preservation consultant with Kramer & Company in Ashland. "There is a sense of place that historic architecture creates. When you think of Ashland or Medford or Jacksonville or Grants Pass, they have mature trees, mature plants and the houses have a settled look. This creates a sense of community."
What Kramer enthusiastically notes about preserving the region's architectural past is how it affects the present and the future. "Developers are learning from this history and are building houses that reflect these qualities," he says. "This translates into more walkable cities, nice front porches and houses that look like people live in them rather than houses that look like cars live in them."
Such a welcoming presentation is always in style, regardless of the era.