A historic success
In the early summer of 2014, the Laurelhurst community in Portland was faced with the demolition of an iconic 1900s Spanish mission-style home that sat at the entry of their historic neighborhood. Fortunately for the home, the neighbors on the street where it lived included a historic preservation professional, a graphic designer, a communication expert and lots of willing volunteers.
Our first step was branding the home after the original owner, L.B. Markham, and developing a straightforward graphic approach -- tying the color to the notable red roof of the home. This gave us an easy way to talk about the home publicly (instead of "you know that house at the corner of 32nd and Glisan with the red roof?"), and an identifiable graphic standard to apply to all of our materials for "consistency efficiency." The SAVE THE MARKHAM HOME campaign was born and yard signs quickly sprang up -- along with a pretty big funding goal to get the home back from the developer.
The Save the Markham Home campaign was fueled by grassroots efforts, social media tools and media relations. I wasn't expecting to become the spokesperson for the effort, but all of a sudden I found myself doing TV, radio and newspaper interviews -- with my neighbor Barb Pierce (our resident historic preservation expert) doing back up -- and becoming very familiar with the ins and outs of demolition situation in Portland. Sometimes you just never know how you'll spend your summer!
Our social media strategy started out with organic growth and updates, but quickly grew to daily posts and paid posts. With about 850 followers, we were proud of our engagement levels and realized we had a captive and very interested audience. We shared our media activity and demonstrated that our commitment was real and that we needed their support to help save the home.
The team created the Markham Home Hero donation campaign and aligned with the Architectural Heritage Center to provide nonprofit status. By September, John McCulloch of McCulloch Construction got word of the effort and stepped up to help purchase the home, with the neighbors needing to fill a much smaller funding gap.
From knocking on doors to a donation/information booth on the corner during Greekfest, the grand fundraising finale was a silent auction at Migration Brewing with donations from the neighborhood's business community and entertainment by Ashleigh Flynn and David Gerow. We truly pulled all the strings and levers to get as many people involved -- and had fun doing it.
The newly restored home will host an open house on April 24, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find out more about the history, our efforts, see the news coverage, and more photos of the home on the campaign's Facebook page.