Corvallis, Oregon, (population 52,950) is a tree-lined college town in the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis was part of the Oregon Trail established by pioneering Americans in search of a new start. Those who braved the trail, starting in 1845, began to build a robust agricultural economy. In the early 1900s, Corvallis began to emerge as a leader in technology. Over the years, many local companies and entrepreneurs have created innovative products. Hewlett-Packard established its research campus there in 1975. Doug Englebert, a graduate of Oregon State University, invented the computer mouse, and USA Today listed Corvallis fourth in the nation for the number of patents issued.
Corvallis celebrates its area’s heritage by protecting historic places, including two neighborhoods with almost 600 resources that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The central campus of Oregon State University has recently been approved by the state review board for National Register historic district designation. The Hull-Oakes Lumber Company is one of the last steam-powered sawmills in the nation. The historic mill complex includes a sawmill building, a log pond, boiler and fuel storage houses, a large planning shed, a debarking shed, a lumber storage area, a wood chip storage bin, a train depot, a garage, and railroad spurs. Hull-Oakes Lumber Company is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Engineering Record
The year-long Corvallis Sesquicentennial celebration in 2007 offered more than 30 events, such as walking tours, historic home tours, and workshops. Some activities included dressing up in vintage costumes, storytelling, and age-appropriate educational programs. Mayor Charles Tomlinson and First Lady of Corvallis Maria Tomlinson, dressed in Civil War-era attire, welcomed members of the community to the opening celebration in the Corvallis Arts Center (a converted 1880s Episcopal Church) on the day that marked the anniversary of the signing of the charter for incorporation of the city. The event included speakers who described their experiences growing up in Corvallis, memories of Corvallis’ Centennial celebration, and how the town has and has not changed. Live, old-time acoustic music rounded out the event.
In cooperation with the Historic Resources Commission and city staff, numerous volunteers offer countless hours to help with heritage programs. Since 1988, individuals, institutions, private investors, local businesses, and government agencies have been honored for the restoration and rehabilitation of buildings and adaptive use through the annual Preservation Awards Ceremony.
The city created the Historic Preservation Advisory Board and the city’s first Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1982. Since then, the council amended the Historic Preservation Provisions of the Land Development Code and has made several code amendments related to alterations and new construction activities. The city of Corvallis maintains an online inventory of historic properties that includes more than 600 residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional resources.
Corvallis’ annual heritage events include Preservation Month, featuring tours, displays, ceremonies, and a memorial cemetery program. Preservation Month is a joint program of the Corvallis and Benton County Historic Resource Commissions and PreservationWORKS, a non-profit educational organization.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2008.