The church that has owned and cared for the former Albany High School since 1964 is going to ask the city council to allow it to finish replacing 34 windows in the historic building’s façade.
On Sept. 1, the Albany Landmarks Commission denied a request by Willamette Community Church to use vinyl sashes in the replacement of 34 windows that had — or still have — wooden sashes. Twenty-three of the wood windows had already been replaced with vinyl sashes when the city building official issued a stop-work order in July. Eleven remain to be done.
Albany’s development code requires city review and approval of the use of substitute materials when owners want to make changes on the exterior of historic buildings. The former high school was built in 1909 and expanded with two wings, a gym and an auditorium, in 1930.
The Albany Landmarks Commission unanimously rejected the vinyl window request on Sept. 1. This week, on Thursday, Scott Miller and Lee Eick of the church appealed that decision to the city council. Miller is the lead pastor, and Eick is the volunteer manager for the window project.
Filing the appeal cost them $953, the fee the city charges in such cases.
On Friday the city planning division gave notice that the appeal will go to the council on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The council will hold a public hearing on the window issue as part of its regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.
Before getting that notice, I had asked the church about its next step.
“We were invited by the Landmarks Commission to appeal their decision to City Council,” the church said in a reply from Miller and Eick, “and we are now in that process. We are grateful for the support of City staff who has been helping us through these processes, including their independent evaluation of our application.”
The planning staff had recommended approval of the church’s request, a recommendation Landmarks did not follow.
The church said it had started replacing many of the old windows with vinyl sashes 20 years ago, evidently without anyone noticing or raising objections, and the 34 being done now were to complete that project.
Looking at the building now, as I did again after the Landmarks denial, it’s hard for me to see how the new windows do anything to detract from this handsome structure’s historic status and visual appeal. (hh)