Levi Henkle House
502 NW 2nd St.
PreservationWORKS identified willing – yet unsuccessful – buyers, but sellers were reluctant to change ownership of the land. Their objective was to find someone willing to move the building off site, or demolish the structure and redevelop the site with new construction. In August 2019, the HRC denied a demolition permit for the 1880s Italianate-style residence finding that the building's deterioration was the result of actions and inactions by the owner, sufficient historic integrity remained, and the building was sufficiently sound to move. The City Council denied a subsequent hardship appeal of the HRC's decision in December 2019. This was a precedent-setting case for the city, the Historic Resources Commission, the resource itself, and most importantly for the credibility of preservation activites citywide.
The Levi Henkle House, a circa 1898 Italianate structure, is named for Levi Henkle, who came to Benton County from Iowa in 1853. Henkle sold it in 1907. Numerous owners later, it is not clear when the two-story home was last occupied, and the house and grounds are in an obvious state of disrepair. The voluminous nuisance complaint record with the city starts in 1997.
Despite Henkle House's neglected appearance, the structure remains essentially as originally constructed. The structure's massing and space organization all result from deliberate decisions reached when built and all help define a sense of time and place. The residential function, structural system, proportion, scale, technology, ornamentation, and materials all remain. The original patterns of door and window openings and many early features endure. The building is over 100 years old, but the fine-grained, quarter-sawn wood was an additional 100 years old when milled. The wood seasoned over the last century and contributes to the structure's stability.
Our immediate priorities include removal of interior trash, securing the roof and windows from weather, stabilization of the front porch, and – with HRC approval – removal of the collapsed, non-historic rear addition, non-functional chimneys, and trees intruding on the foundation. Despite new challenges created by the corona virus, our plan provides restoration educational opportunities for professional construction trades, vintage property owners, and the public. We envision the Henkle House rescue as a community-building opportunity for Corvallis. A successful project requires a public/private partnership with non-profit leadership.
On January 6, 2020, the Corvallis City Council upheld the decision of the Historic Resources Commission to deny a demolition permit for the Henkle House at 2nd & Tyler. This structure is on the city's list of historic landmarks. It's a rare example in our city of an Italianate residential structure.
PreservationWORKS purchased the Levi Henkle House, 502 NW 2 nd Street on March 31, 2020. We contracted with a new buyer for property sale, and are working collaboratively for a new future for this singular historic asset.
Although the house looks even worse than the photo above, it retains a surprising degree of both structural and historic integrity. A vacant house requires some minimal security to prevent incursion of water or unwanted guests; sadly, in this instance reasonable safeguards were not pursued over many years. That this house still stands is a testimony to the high quality of materials and workmanship in this 1880s family home.