McLoughlin Conservation District

Wecome to the McLoughlin Conservation District.

Only homes that are locally designated require review of exterior alterations. However, all new construction  or large additions in the District require review by staff or the Historic Review Board. If you are unsure if your project will require review, please contact the Planning Division at (503) 722.3789.

The McLoughlin District is referred to as the "second level," reflecting its topography and relationship to the original town of Oregon City, which lies just below at the base of a steep basalt cliff. In the 1850’s few people built homes on the second level but as the downtown area became more crowded, and after completion of the Oregon & California railroad in late 1869,more residents moved up the hill, to what is now called the McLoughlin neighborhood. Construction continued from the 1870’s into the first quarter of the 1900’s, and the buildingsfrom this period contribute to McLoughlin’s late 19th - early 20th century ambience. Churches followed their congregants,and the high school, two elementary schools and a parochial school are within the district.

The area is a broad, relatively flat bench which begins at the western edge of the bluff above Oregon City, bounded by High Street and the Promenade. The "bowl" then rises gradually 200 feet on the east in a series of undulating terraces to the top of the hill, the "third level." Beyond the top of this bluff the land stretches east to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The McLoughlin Conservation District is composed of pockets of development that coalesced over time. Consequently, it contains a "checkerboard" of architectural styles. Except for 7th Street, which remains a commercial and retail corridor, and Center and High Streets south of 7th, which has lost singlefamily homes to one-story office buildings, the neighborhood is primarily residential, with scattered churches and schools.

There are few blocks where one architectural style predominates. For example, a Queen Anne style home may besurrounded by a variety of vernacular homes, bungalows, post-1925 homes, non-historic homes, or apartment buildings. While there are clusters of homes in a related style (often fewer than a half-dozen on facing blocks), there are not large sectionsof just the most popular "bungalow" or "Queen Anne" houses. The area at the southeast edge of the neighborhood (commonly called "Dutch Camp") contains the largest concentration of old homes but they vary in style. In the 7th Street business corridor (also known as the "Arc Light" area) a few 19th-Century Falsefront stores remain, interspersed with single-story streetcar-era commercial buildings, a 1920’s stucco-finished Fire & Police station and a brick IOOF hall. Some of these areconstructed of wood, others are concrete or brick. Most of the 7th Street businesses are "one building deep." They are built to the edge of the sidewalk but extend back on either side of 7th Street to the mid-block alleys. A part of "Latourette Canyon" at the northern portion of the district near 12th and Monroe is an area of many bungalows and Four Square style homes. Near the eastern edge of the commercial area is the city’s former Carnegie Library which has been restored and is now a community building. It is situated in a block-square park with lawn, mature trees and a plaza/play area. As 7th Street rises to the east the commercial district thins and transitions into a more residential area. At the top of the hill (the third level), 7th Street turns south and changes into a more contemporary strip-mall commercial corridor.

Beginning in 1982 the McLoughlin neighborhood sought designation as an Oregon City Historic Conservation District, which was achieved in 1986. Following a survey of 971 buildings, 305 were identified as architecturally or historically significant properties. In 2002 a resurvey noted approximately 200 more buildings within the district boundaries of lesser significance, but due to their age and form were seen as strengthening the overall historic character of the district. The resurvey found the district eligible for listing as an historic district on National Register of Historic Places. At the same time, historic structures beyond the Conservation District boundaries but within the city limits of Oregon City were surveyed and 72 were designated of historic significance. Some of these are close to the McLoughlin district; others are farther from the core area, either isolated in newer subdivisions or still within their larger homestead-era properties. It should be noted that some of the oldest homes have been moved into the district for their preservation, including the Barclay, McLoughlin, and Ermatinger preterritorial homes.Since the 1970’s individual properties have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places (nearly all are also city landmarks), and several have been restored. Interest in the history of the McLoughlin Neighborhood developed in the 1980’s through walking tours organized by an individual, as well as by members of the Old House Forum, a group ofhistoric home owners. In the mid-1980’s concern about preserving historic buildings mounted during the city’s comprehensive plan update. Residents feared that proposed rezoning to high density residential would lead to destruction of its older buildings. In 2004 Oregon City’s updated Comprehensive Plan recommended that the McLoughlin Conservation District be changed to a National Register Historic District, like Canemah.

There are approximately 153 blocks in the McLoughlin Conservation District of which 121 are from the original plat ofOregon City. They are approximately 200 x 200 feet square, and generally divided into 50x100 foot lots. The  exception to the square conformance are the blocks between Center and Van Buren, 10th and 11th streets where they are slightly narrower. Many of the blocks were further divided by alleys. Some of these alleys have been vacated and built upon; others, especially in the two blocks which parallel the main business thoroughfare on 7th Street,continue to be used as alleys

Click on the links to the right to find and view information about historic homes in this area.