|via Keizer Times (the back side of the house)|
|1852 survey shows Keizur and Pugh family claims|
(Road on the right is close to the modern Verda Lane alignment
Chemawa probably aligns with the survey boundary line)
Keizerites have apparently mostly been unaware of the house. Back in 1980, Ann Lossner had written
When John [Pugh] married Sallie Claggett his neighbors, who had some experience with Keizer’s floods, advised the young couple to build their house on high ground. Their house, probably the oldest in Keizer, still stands at 4845 Verda Lane above Claggett Park. The huge rocks for the foundation were hauled from the Santiam River.You may recall that a very grand tree had fallen there a few years back.
In 1878 John and Sallie donated 1-1/2 acres for a school at the corner of Chemawa and River Roads, with the stipulation that when the land is no longer used for school purposes, it is to reven [revert?] to the heirs of Charles Pugh, their oldest son.
But this seems to have gone down the memory hole mostly, and it wasn't until a citizen pulled the ODOT historical assessment, necessary because of Federal funding, for the traffic circle at Verda and Chemawa, that folks really tumbled to the significance of the house and property.
The consulting historian suggests a slightly later date for the house however.
By 1884, census reports suggest John Pugh was living in the “South Salem Precinct” and the home was sold to Benjamin Franklin and Mary Hall. An expert consulting on the ODOT report suggested that the home on the property most likely dates to the Hall era.
|John Pugh House with Stump (2013)|
|The Houses of Grant Neighborhood|
More recently, the Keizer Times reports the current owners say the home "is not in salvageable condition for preservation." (Engineering assessment here.) They are not interested in a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and intend to resist any such efforts, and point out that "someone off the street does not qualify as being 'interested'" and therefore cannot initiate any application for official recognition as historic. (The whole legal filing is interesting and can be seen here.)
Apparently the matter will return to City agenda late this month - so folks who live in Keizer and are interested in historic preservation and in sustainable density may want to be on the lookout!
In the meantime, comment is open until the 15th:
Those wishing to comment on the proposal now have until Monday, Aug. 15, to respond in writing to the city. Correspondence can be sent to City Recorder Tracy Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail at P.O. Box 21000, Keizer, OR 97307.