The residents of Peacock Lane, the Southeast Portland street famous for its annual Christmas light displays, are raising money to get the street listed on the National Register of Historic Places to discourage new development.
A GoFundMe campaign for the effort has raised just over $3,000 of its $15,000 goal since it was created in June.
The efforts were spurred by a Portland developer's purchase of the house at 522 Peacock Lane this spring. The developer, Everett Custom Homes, plans to split the lot and build a new house in a style that residents say doesn't fit with the rest of the four block-long street and its English Tudor-style houses.
"I think we are not opposed to the idea that cities change over time," writes Sarah Longwell of the Peacock Lane Neighborhood Association in an email. "It's just that we also think that Peacock Lane is an important source of nostalgia for a lot of Portlanders, and part of that comes from the coherent style of the homes."
Getting the street registered as a historic district won't stop the building of a new house at 522, but it could stymie future changes in the architectural style of houses on the street—any new developments would have to be reviewed by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission before being approved.
The 33 original houses on Peacock Lane were all designed and built by Portland developer R.F. Wassell in the 1920s. While each house is different, they are in the style of English cottages, featuring tall, peaked gables and unique window styles.
Longwell says that one of the most important features of the original properties is their large front lawns, which set the houses away from the street. The new house at 522 will have more square footage than the original houses and won't have the same distance from the street.
"[The setback] helps not just with visibility of the holiday lights, but is also a big part of the community feel of our street—front yards on Peacock Lane are for gathering and community building," writes Longwell.
The process of listing a district on the National Register of Historic Places is a lengthy and expensive one. Resident Becky Patternson told KOIN 6 News in July that it could could cost from $10,000 to $15,000.
Jason Allen, a historic preservation specialist for the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, says that the residents recently completed the first step of the process: a reconnaissance survey that documents any changes that have been made to the houses since they were first built.
The next steps include preparing a formal nomination, getting feedback from a state advisory committee, then submitting the nomination to the National Park Service.
"The specialists we are working with have nearly completed their initial review and report, and feel strongly that there is reason to continue with the nomination process," writes Longwell.