Jefferson Westside Neighbors and areas west of the downtown commercial district are the oldest neighborhoods in Eugene. Most homes range from the 19th century up to the 1940s. Examples range from palaces like the 1891 Queen Anne Victorian at Taylor and W. 10th to more modest and ubiquitous Craftsman bungalows built in the early 20th century (like the beautiful 1920 home pictured).
Combined with our larger old tree canopy, Jefferson Westside Neighbors is the historic heart of Eugene.
The City’s Historic Preservation Program webpage “Preserving Eugene’s History” explains: “Eugene’s older neighborhoods and houses are a critical part of our city’s history and character. Just as the Willamette River, Skinner and Spencer Buttes, and the Cascades define Eugene’s natural surroundings, our historic neighborhoods of settlement-era houses, modest bungalows, and stately craftsman homes trace Eugene’s history and help define the character of the city and of the Northwest.
“The purpose of Eugene’s Historic Preservation Program is to increase public awareness of this history and character and to facilitate preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures, landscape features, and other culturally significant physical objects and geographic areas.”
In an attempt to avoid the fate of other older urban neighborhoods that have succumbed to infill redevelopment, such as the two 100+-year-old Craftsman homes destroyed to build the massive fourplex on W. 15th and Olive, the JWN is forming a task force to explore the possibility of creating a historic district.
Preserving older homes is not only important to our culture and heritage, but is environmentally sound, as an older home’s carbon debt has long since been paid. Upgrading an existing structure for energy efficiency is far less carbon intensive, and more effective, as demolishing a home and building a new house.
Preservation is not about preventing density – we are already the second densest neighborhood with a huge inventory of middle housing – much of it historic like the Lincoln School Condos. Preservation is about protecting the neighborhood’s historic character and context and putting that front and center for any new development.
Forming a task force is just the first step, with the goal of collecting enough information to start a larger neighborhood discussion. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Jefferson Westside Neighbors at email@example.com. An information session and discussion will be held at the October JWN general meeting (via Zoom).
This article appears in the September 2022 Jefferson Westside e-News. To learn more, see https://www.jwneugene.org/