Public hearing on April 20 may determine future of historic landmark house


A Clackamas County land use hearing set for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 20, may mark the end of the historic Oatfield House in the Oak Lodge community just south of Milwaukie. 

The hearing on demolition of the property, as requested by the property owner, will be held in the auditorium of the county’s Development Services Building, 150 Beavercreek Road in Oregon City. The county has the authority to delay demolition, but not to prevent it.

The public is welcome to attend the public hearing and to testify.

The John R. Oatfield House, known also as the Phillip Oatfield House, was designated as a historic landmark in 1987. The property has been vacant for more than two years and is in very poor condition. According to county planners and building officials, the structure is deteriorating rapidly and poses a safety threat to the community.

County staff worked for several months with the Oak Lodge History Detectives and Restore Oregon to find an organization or person with the resources and interest to restore the house. The attempt was unsuccessful.

Linda Preisz, a Clackamas County planner and staff liaison to the county’s Historic Review Board, says, “Unfortunately without the stewardship of a caring owner, preserving a landmark becomes an overwhelming task. Unless a philanthropic individual or group steps forward to restore this house or move it to a new location, this historic treasure will be lost forever.”

The Oatfield House was built in 1903 by Phillip Oatfield, John Oatfield’s brother. The Colonial Revival-style house is located on a large lot with a barn, sheds, a chicken coop and a well structure. The property also has four giant sequoia trees, a monkey puzzle tree, and grapevines estimated to be at least 75 years old. 

John and Phillip Oatfield were the sons of pioneer Michael Oatfield, who arrived in the area in 1861. Michael Oatfield assembled 600 acres of land for orchards and farming, which was later expanded by his sons. The brothers were instrumental in establishing the Oak Lodge Water District and rural telephone service. John Oatfield sat on the local school board for 25 years, and was also responsible for obtaining a 10-mile special road tax to improve Old River Road and build Oatfield Road (named after his family).

The property started to decline in the 1980s, the property owner died in 2011, and the family sold the property in 2014. Since then the home has been left vacant. 

For more information, members of the media and public may contact Preisz at 503-742-4528.