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The former Bomber location in Oak Grove is for sale

 John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Source.

Actually, what’s for sale is most of the land that the former restaurant (closed during COVID in 2020) and gas station (closed years ago) and once featured the B-17 Lacey Lady, a WWII-vintage B-17G four-engine Bomber looming over the property.

If you don’t know the story, in 1947, Art Lacey purchased a B-17 bomber for $13,000 and flew it from Oklahoma to Oregon. He then disassembled it, transported it covertly, and placed it atop his 48-pump gas station in Oak Grove. Lacey also opened the Bomber Restaurant and motel. The gas station was closed in 1991.

According to Loopnet, the property is going for $6 million.


Good news for fans of the airplane, it was relocated and is being restored. Once that happens it’s not clear where it will (excuse the pun) land. Probably not at its original location. If I had any guesses, this chunk of the property will be turned into shovel-ready land.

Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland historic preservation Portland History

Modern mystery in Oak Grove

A reader shared images of a phenomenal home located off of SE Oatfield and Roethe Road in Oak Grove (near Milwaukie, Ore.)

Here’s what they said:

This is a picture taken probably in the late 40’s by our Mom of her Mothers property which was on Oatfield road near Roethe. I remember this building on the Eastern border of her property.  I don’t think it was there after the 1960s but it looks like a very modern home with a Frank Lloyd Wright style to it.  They would have had an amazing view.  Not sure who owned that horse.  The house must have been off Roethe Rd east of Oatfield.  Perhaps someday I’ll drive out there and see if I can figure out where it might have been.

Any ideas from readers out there?

Oregon History

Meet Milwaukie Manor

This doesn’t happen often enough around here: grand old home for sale, on a big lot, needs repair, someone buys it, then restores it. (You know the other side of that story. (Cough demolition cough). 

A couple of years back the Skulason House in Milwaukie, Ore., (a wonderful Dutch Colonial Revival built in 1913) went up for sale. Sitting near the Providence Milwaukie Hospital, things didn’t look good. 

When it was originally built, The Oregonian reported “Among the most attractive and pretentious homes to rise in Portland’s suburbs has just been completed in Milwaukie. The house is a striking empire style of architecture.” ⁣⁣
It cost $12,000 to build. ⁣⁣

When it went up for sale a few years back the listing had the words many preservationists fear: “opportunity to develop the land.” Enter the new owners:  the Bernards family, who had a different, better idea and a vision.

Owners of the Interior Design Firm, Studio MacLeod with close ties to MacLeod Construction, they focus on historical restorations in Portland and Milwaukie. After purchasing the home and property, the husband and wife team quickly got to work on their dream of restoring the historical home, room by room. Renaming the property to Milwaukie Manor with a top to bottom, interior and exterior complete revamp of the property, the new owners also plan on making the exterior space into an event space for weddings, music, events, and parties.

This personal restoration project will be one that they say will be room by room, top to bottom, and interior and exterior complete revamp of this unique property.

Look for updates on their Instagram page. And if you have any information on the Skulason House, post it in the comments. 

Adaptive Reuse Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History

Serve on Milwaukie’s historic city hall committee

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Milwaukie City Hall was built by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, between 1937 and 1938.  

Help write Milwaukie City Hall’s next chapter. With plans in place to move city services to another building in a few years, the city is looking for volunteers to serve on a committee that will help determine how the current City Hall should be used in the future. Restaurant? Brewpub? Affordable housing?

The current Milwaukie City Hall has served the community since 1937. Now, as the city plans to move to a newer building, City Council is asking for help in deciding how the current city hall site should be used in the future. 

Do you live in Milwaukie? Submit an application to serve on the City Hall Blue Ribbon Committee, a short-duration advisory committee that will include city representatives and community partners.

Committee members will learn about the historic significance of the site, historic preservation laws, operational costs and limitations, and development market conditions. The committee will help create development goals for the site and help structure the public engagement effort with the broader community.

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Adaptive Reuse Oregon History Portland History

An under-appreciated mid-century spot in Milwaukie

Downtown Milwaukie is experiencing major changes to its downtown core. From the south Downtown area (there’s an actual crane up in Milwaukie) with two huge mixed-use projects up within a couple of years, to a new library, to more mixed-use dotted along McLoughlin, downtown will look different in 2-3 years. It hasn’t seen this much growth and construction probably since after WW2.

That said, Milwaukie has an impressive stock of mid-century ranch homes sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods that have remained unscathed in their original condition.

Many commercial mid-century buildings also dot the landscape from super-mod churches to office buildings to bowling alleys.

millwaukie cleaners

One mid-century building still standing is the (now former) Milwaukie Cleaners building. Almost invisible, since it sits on a desolate part of Main street (most people usually drive by it to hop on 99) it was built in 1959 and designed by Joseph H. Rudd & Associates, a Portland architecture firm. The streamlined design and folded plate roof were commonly found on dry cleaners of the time. The space is a bit striking and unusual, most notably that roof.

According to Leesa Gratreak, MS, Architectural Historian, at HDR, Joseph H. Rudd & Associates was started by Joseph H. Rudd in 1950 after completing his degree in architecture at the University of Oregon. Rudd, originally born in Idaho in 1922, was active in local philanthropy and housing boards in Portland, as well as an active member of the city planning committee in Vancouver, Wash. Rudd continued to design with the firm until his retirement in 1990 and he passed away in 2003.

Examples of additional work include Yaw’s Top Notch Restaurant in Portland; quarters for the Sisters of St. Dominic on the Marycrest High School campus in Portland; a U.S. National Bank Building on Division Street in Portland; as well as numerous residential buildings throughout the Portland metro area.

“The building is an excellent example of mid-century plate glass design and exhibits a folded plate roof and decorative concrete block patterning,” says Gratreak. “The roof is considered a common feature associated with dry cleaners as it allowed a wide overhang for items to be safely transferred into the vehicle.”

Once Milwaukie Cleaners closed shop, the future of the building remained unknown. Just recently, tell-tale signs of a new business showed up—brown paper on the windows—with word on the street that new tenants will be involved in the budding CBD industry.

Oregon History

Lost and found

Lost and Found is the occasional post that aggregates Oregon-specific news related to Lost Oregon including buildings, architecture, demolitions, preservation attempts and other anecdotes published elsewhere from Oregon’s roadside.

Rexall on Main in Milwaukie in 1955.

And in 2008:

Lost: Oney’s Restaurant on Highway 26 burned to the ground – and investigators think it’s arson.

Found: The soda fountain in the old Rexall/Perry Pharmacy on Main Street in Milwaukie [which also houses an antique mall] has reopened. Be sure to try their delicious Lime Rickey. According to a placard there, JFK swung by during a 1960 visit.

Lost AND Found: AAAPDX didn’t disappear it merely changed its name to the MCM League and added all kinds of cool stuff to their site. Check out the forums, especially the Historical Archaeology of Portland section where they show off some wicked awesome now and then photo skills. I’ve mentioned this before but will mention again: support these folks. They truly care about the character and history of Portland.

Oregon History

Milwaukie Lumber – Then and Now

Starting with this post I’m doing something called “Then and Now”, where, yep, you guessed it, I’m showcasing an older photo and contrasting it with the modern shot. First up is Milwaukie Lumber.

The Ledding Library in downtown Milwaukie has some great old photos of the area hanging in the staircase that leads to the children’s library. One of the shots I snapped [sorry for the lousy resolution] looked really familiar:

Then I remembered – if you walk out of the new Cha Cha Cha on Main, go right, then right again [I want to say Monroe Street] there it is: