Oswego Iron Furnace

*United States

Award Type: Honor Award

In 2003, concerned citizens of Lake Oswego, Ore. noticed there was something missing from the renovation plans of the local community park – namely, its historic 1866 iron blast furnace. The steel furnace helped build much of the Pacific Northwest’s infrastructure, and it was a source of great pride for early residents of Lake Oswego.

However, after a series of financial setbacks, the furnace had closed and began to deteriorate. In an effort to save this community landmark, volunteers provided hours of research and planning, and a Save America’s Treasures grant provided funds for a furnace preservation consultant. After the volunteers presented their findings, the City Council voted to fund the $918,000 restoration. Painstaking efforts were taken to ensure the furnace met West Coast seismic codes without compromising its historic integrity.

The furnace’s revitalization is spurring other preservation activities, and inspiring pride in Lake Oswego’s industrial heritage once again. The local Chamber of Commerce’s new tagline says it all: “Forging Relationships, Building Community.”

“While each is unique, this year’s outstanding Honor Award winners all reflect the importance of protecting what is special and irreplaceable,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Whether it’s the restoration of an iconic post office in Philadelphia or the transformation of a Greyhound bus station into a Civil Rights museum in Montgomery, this year’s Honor Award winners demonstrate how saving places is bolstering local economies and creating jobs in communities across the country.”