Last Friday evening at Restore Oregon’s annual “Restoration Celebration” in Portland, the Hotel Julian was one of seven historic rehabilitation projects in Oregon to receive the DeMuro Award for “projects exemplifying excellence in preservation, adaptive reuse, and community revitalization.” The award is “the only state-wide award in Oregon recognizing the creativity, persistence, and craftsmanship required by outstanding restoration projects.”
In recognizing the Hotel Julian, Restore Oregon said: “The 1892 hotel had become run-down Section 8 housing, but was restored to a state of grace and dignity for its residents and neighbors, demonstrating that preservation can serve the under-served.”
The preservation of the Hotel Julian began with the nonprofit group Northwest Housing Alternatives, which specializes in working with public and private community partners to create and maintain affordable housing for low-income families. Under Northwest Housing Alternatives, the Hotel Julian was not only protected as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Corvallis Register of Historic Places and Districts, but also preserved as a means of affordable housing for elderly and disabled community members. In January 2014, Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, another nonprofit that also specializes in providing affordable housing, purchased the Hotel Julian from Northwest Housing Alternatives, and through the efforts of both organizations, preparations were made to renovate the building.
“The existing heating and ventilation systems were not functioning when we acquired the building,” said Stephen McMurtrey, housing development director at Northwest Housing Alternatives and project manager for the renovations. “But now we have added improvements to help improve the air quality and ventilation of the building, including a new heat recovery unit that takes expelled air and reheats and re-pumps it. We also installed new indoor fans and a very advanced solar sunshade system for the custom windows we made to help control the solar heat gain and loss, since we were required to keep the historic windows.”
The renovations done to the Hotel Julian were extensive, both inside and outside the building. The access ramp was repaired with new handrails, a new resident entry with an awning was added in addition to a new lobby and common spaces, a new roof was installed, the brick was cleaned and repaired, the wood windows were repaired and painted and new lightwell siding as well as windows and a skylight were added. Inside the building, new door hardware, doors, walls, carpeting and lighting were added along with more accessible amenities for residents and new paint jobs for the walls and ceiling.
“It’s quite an honor for WNHS’ development team,” said Jim Moorefield, executive director of Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, a private, nonprofit community development corporation that works to provide quality affordable housing.
“I think there were two reasons for the award. First, it’s simply a beautiful and historic building, important to downtown Corvallis that has now been given new life. And second, it demonstrated that affordable housing can be compatible with beauty, history and neighborhood.”
Jeanie Johnson, one of the Hotel Julian residents originally from Southern Oregon, was happy to be back in her new space. After falling on hard times, Johnson was relieved to get a call and hear that she now had a place at the Hotel Julian to call home.
“The most wonderful aspect of all of this is the relief of knowing that you’re going to survive and that I have a place to be,” Johnson said. “I’m not only out of the weather, which is what I prayed for, but moving into this apartment was just overall the best thing that has happened to me.”