A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Making this place livable again

Written September 29th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The "public hearing" sign got my attention as I was riding by the other day.

The “public hearing” sign at 640 Third Ave. S.W. got my attention as I was riding by the other day.

This old house near the entrance to Albany’s Bryant Park is in pretty poor shape. Now the owners of the triplex rental plan to fix it up, get rid of some unauthorized alterations, and restore it as much as possible to the way it may have looked after it was built more than a century ago.

Pam and Kevin Ostby, of Needles, Calif., bought the place in 2011 for $15,000 because its trashy appearance made it hard to sell the renovated houses they owned on the rest of the 600 block of Third Avenue S.W. Now their plans to renovate this property, at 640 Third S.W., are pending before the Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission. The panel scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Oct. 5 in the council chambers at City Hall. The planning staff is recommending approval of the plans.

What caught my eye on the public hearing notice was the mention of vinyl windows, which used to cause the controversy years ago when they were proposed in the historic districts as a practical alternative to the wooden originals. This time, though, no problem. The Ostbys got two bids for installing 10 new windows. Wooden ones would cost nearly $6,500, and vinyl ones that look like the originals are $1,451. The planning staff agrees that wooden window frames, while preferred for historical authenticity, would be cost-prohibitive.

The little house has one three-bedroom unit on the main floor and two one-bedroom apartments in the basement. The Ostbys submitted photos showing the conditions when they bought it. The yard was full of trash, and the inside was a mess. Their application says the structure was unlivable but people had occupied it anyway. A note in the county assessor’s report from 2002 said: “Rough condition. Value reduced. Also 3 living units now if you can call them that.”

The Linn County tax department says the structure was built in 1905. Albany says it dates from 1890. Either way, it now looks as though a complete renovation will make it livable again. (hh)



6 responses to “Making this place livable again”

  1. Dick Olsen says:

    The Ostby’s should contact Vintage Window Restoration, LLC at VINTAGEWINDOW.CHRIS@GMAIL.COM or Chris Gustafson 541-730-0236.
    Most times restored windows with there sashweights look better, operate better, last longer and are less expensive than new wooden or particularly vinyl windows. I have 128 year old wooden windows in my house. I repaired some of them 40 years ago and they still work great.

    • Gothic Albany says:

      I completely agree, wood windows work better and last longer than vinyl! Windows are the gateway to the soul of a house. I only briefly skimmed the Landmarks file, but it looks like almost all the windows were (illegally) replaced with vinyl by some shady previous owner. It looks like the owner is asking to replace the existing vinyl windows with different vinyl windows that match the size and placement of the originals. It is just too bad that since they are doing this they do not replace them with wood windows.

  2. Hackleman Renovator says:

    Vinyl windows are never a good idea for a historic home. Those $145 windows will look terrible and will not last. Seriously, why even bother “restoring” the home if they are going to use cheap vinyl windows? The windows will detract significantly from the home’s “historic curb appeal”. In addition, the vinyl window manufacturing process itself is unhealthy for the environment AND the workers involved. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      For a “historic home,” you may be right. This is more properly described as an old pile of junk, which has nothing but vinyl windows of different and unauthentic sizes. The trick here is to rehabilitate it so someone will want to buy it, maybe even to live in while renting out two of the units, and curing an eyesore that drags down the entire block. Cost is a factor, and the decision on what materials to use, within limits, is properly up to the one who pays the bill. (hh)

      • Hackleman Renovator says:

        The key phrase there is “within limits”. What is the point of having a historic district if the rules can be overturned? That pile of junk can still be renovated into a charming home, but now with the vinyl windows going in that will be much less likely. I paid much more than the Ostbys did for my own pile of junk that no one else wanted. Been there, still doing it. I am very disappointed in the LAC decision. When I was a commissioner, that decision would not have been made, I am quite confident.

  3. Dick Olsen says:

    I tend to agree with all of the above after taking a closer look at the house. Hopefully the cheap vinyl will be placed in approximately the location of and in the dimensions of the original windows. This should keep the weather out until ,in the future, some brave soul may be able to find or make wooden replacements for the vinyl. It’s a great location with the waterfall and view of the park. If I was 20yrs younger and didn’t live at 732 Broadalbin I’d be tempted.


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