A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

From Oxford House to a family’s home

Written October 28th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Mike Davis, left, and Joel Dahl in front of the historic Goltra House on Monday. Dahl is renovating it as his family’s home.

A bike ride in Monday’s sunshine took me past 331 Montgomery St. S.E., an address in Albany’s Hackleman Historic District where a remarkable story is taking place.

The two-story structure with a basement dates from around 1892 and is known as the Goltra House, for a prominent Linn County farm family. Joel Dahl used to live there seven years ago when it was an Oxford House, a group home for recovery from drugs or alcohol.

Since then, Dahl, 41, completed an LBCC course on how to start and run a business and has launched three or four, including Dahled-Up Construction. Now he’s buying the Goltra House and is renovating his former residence as the future home of his family. (He plans to get married soon, he told me. The others in his family are two daughters, two sons, and a baby on the way.)

The property was an Oxford House until about a month ago. Mike Davis, who owns five Oxford Houses in Albany, but didn’t own this one, told me the nine men living there moved to one he owns on First Avenue.

Davis has been Dahl’s sponsor in the Oxford House program, which among other things involves 12 steps and a reliance on God. He happened to visit the construction site Monday just after I rolled up on the bike.

Dahl hopes to complete the renovation in two or three months. On Nov. 6, he faces a hearing before the Albany Landmarks Commission, which must rule on his exterior alterations such as installing new metal roof railings, taking down two chimneys, and replacing damaged crown molding, facia, porch flooring, and siding.

He also must get the commission’s OK on a set of steel garage doors to replace the originals made of wood. The new steel doors are in place. To me they look like wood. Actual wooden replacements would have cost $9,000, Dahl told me, compared to $3,000 for steel.

As for the chimneys, Dahl has photos of their crumbling bricks. He says they have to go lest one of these days they come tumbling down on their own. (hh)

The Goltra House, at Montgomery Street and Fourth Avenue, is undergoing renovations.







19 responses to “From Oxford House to a family’s home”

  1. Rolland says:

    Hasso, such a good story the type you always uncover. The Story in the Story with what Joel Dahl has accomplished in a short time is awesome.


  2. Jim Engel says:

    Yes, Dahl’s work, both personally & business wise, has been awesome. But…those thugs in the Albany Landmarks Commission may well change his plans by making costly decisions on materials used. Are “they” willing as a group to help with the physical work…NO. But they will “work” probably to burden Dahl with nonsense building materials requirements! They have “done it” to others in the past. That’s one dictatorial commission Albany can do without!

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Kudos to Davis and Dahl for their faith-based service and dedication to making Albany a better place to live.

    Boos and hisses to a government Commission that dictates a public role for a private home.

    It is an affront to private property rights and personal freedom that the city has the power to dictate petty requirements and trivial choices on homeowners.

    Why does Albany city government fear modernism? Deifying the past and scorning the present is no way to celebrate the downtown area.

    The best way to correct the imbalance is for city government to get out of the way…starting with this beautiful, privately owned house.

    • Jon Stratton says:

      So, you find it beautiful, and as such, there should be no rules about what’s done with it. But let’s say your neighbor wants to cover his house in horse dung. Not so beautiful. Would you be as in favor of these much vaunted “personal property rights” then? Probably not after the first good, sunny day. Rules create society. Don’t like them? Get on the commission and change them.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Using a fear-based gross exaggeration (horse dung) is not a legitimate argument for allowing a coercive government to dictate private property rights.

        There are plenty of contractual options whereby owners of private property can come together and voluntarily consent to how property gets used. This isn’t rocket science. It’s free people voluntarily exercising their freedoms without government interference.

        But evidently lots of folks like you desire blind obedience to authority over personal freedom. This saddens me.

  4. Kevin says:

    Great Story. Good Luck to Joel and the family. Hope the city is easy on the repairs.

  5. D says:

    What happened to the lawsuit that Dahl is involved in with his employees about making them pray at work?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Checking. The suit was filed last year by a former worker who complained not about praying but about being paid to attend Bible study.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        Now I’ve checked. The lawsuit by Ryan Coleman against Dahled-Up Construction is still pending. The complaint has been amended to include the owner personally as a defendant. A year ago the Pacific Justice Institute, which defends religious freedom and other civil liberties, joined the case on the company’s side. In March this year, Linn County Circuit Judge DeAnn Novotny denied motions to dismiss or strike various portions of the action. Now the judge has extended the deadline for discovery until the end of this month. Motions are due by Nov. 15, after which a settlement conference may be scheduled.
        One question that occurs to me: If Bible study bothers you, even when you get paid for it, why seek employment in a place where it takes place?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          “If Bible study bothers you, even when you get paid for it, why seek employment in a place where it takes place?”

          If the job was advertised as including such, good question. However, possibly that issue came after he was hired?

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    In this day & age, any contractor should understand all the ground rules and get his/her ducks in a row before starting renovations in a historic district. Kudos to him for going through the process as designed. However, if any renovations have already been made, and now trying to gain approval for doing them… It’s just asking for trouble.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      It is only trouble when you have an intransigent government that is drunk with power to make a homeowner’s life miserable.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Wrong. If you ignore the rules & plow ahead anyway, then you rightly deserve the trouble it may bring.

  7. Cynthia Fischer says:

    I drive past this project nearly every day and have been so impressed with the beautiful renovation. I vote that it’s better to fix something up with a few modern materials than to leave it undone because of unreasonable expenses. The people of Albany are behind this project.

  8. Danita Crook says:

    Great article as always. I’m glad to see and hear this good being done in more ways than one. Good luck and hopefully the city government doesn’t see fit to assess high prices on this renovation!!

  9. Rob sollers says:

    This is not as good a thing as you reported. Because this house was shut down the men who lived here were moved to a womens house and 11 women were evicted so that the men in this house had a place to go. Some but not all of the 11 were able to join another women’s house, however some had no where to go. Albany now has 1 less oxford house for women all so mr Dahl can have a second home. He and mike are big in the recovery community and they do alot for the community however this was wrong and they need to step up and be acountable for what they did. It was not fair to those ladys in that house. Just for the record I have no ties to anyone there at thurston creek house. But I am a member of the recovery community and I think what they did was wrong.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Wow! Really? That happened. My news sources have let me down. Hmmmm.

      Good to know that those who are MEN still have dominance and take priority under God’s eyes.

      … tongue in cheek of course …

    • Jubal Johnson says:

      Wrong. The women were evicted by the landlord Mike Davis because they were unable to follow the Oxford principle of self-governance. They had been unable to maintain a healthy sober house so they lost there Oxford Charter. They were not kicked out so we could move in (I am a member of the house) but their self inflicted misfortune was a boon to us.

      • Rob Sollers says:

        So everyone wasnt following the rules or was that just the excuse oxford used? Normally in a situation like that chapter takes over, cleans house , and continues to function as an oxford house. This was only done in this way to facilitate this take over. It is you guys that should have split up and kept the ladys house open. As you stated you benefitted so I wouldn’t expect you to see it any other way. Fact is there are way more mens houses than ladys. That house should have stayed a women’s house. There was no excuse closing a house should be a very last resort. Chapter did what benefitted you not what was best for oxford as a whole.


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