Overbay

A restored window is shown at the Overbay Houseworks woodworking shop.

WARRENTON — The Port of Astoria, Clatsop Community College and Overbay Houseworks are collaborating to restore windows on a building across from the Airport Industrial Park.

Ed Overbay and his staff build cabinets, doors, staircases and other household products in the woodworking shop. The building, which Overbay has occupied since 1979, is owned by the Port.

Overbay

Students are helping to restore windows on a building owned by the Port of Astoria.

While the structure has handled storms and flooding for over four decades and remains in fairly good condition, one restoration project desperately needed to be undertaken: the windows.

The Port is responsible for taking care of the outside of the building. “We have been behind on maintenance out there for years,” Matt McGrath, the Port’s deputy director, said.

So Overbay came up with an idea. He had a hand in starting the historic preservation program at Clatsop Community College, which teaches students about the theory and history of restoration, and gives them hands-on experience through projects across the region.

Overbay thought the program could tackle restoration of his windows.

“I brainstormed this idea. This gives the college program a good opportunity to do this kind of restoration,” he said. “The windows are, by and large, accessible as opposed to a lot of situations and they’re almost all exactly the same size so I thought it would be a good drill for the college program … and it would be a good opportunity for the building.

“I want to see the building maintained, I love this building.”

He got in touch with McGrath and Lucien Swerdloff, the coordinator and one of the founders of the college program, who were thrilled to move forward.

“We wouldn’t really have known about this without Ed,” McGrath said. “ … We want to get that building back to its original shape because it has good bones to it, it has just been neglected for a lot of years. We want to get that back up to good shape so that it looks really good, and gives a good face to Ed.”

During two weekend workshops with one more to go, the students have removed several windows to work on them. After dusting off the 40 years of sawdust, Swerdloff said, the students began restoring sashes, cleaning up and oiling the jambs, replacing broken glass and repairing rotten wood, among several other tasks.

Many of the windows, Swerdloff said, have not been operable for a long time.

McGrath estimates there are around 48 windows on the building, and since the students will only get around to restoring six of them, Swerdloff thought it would be a good idea for some of the Port’s employees to sit in on the workshop.

“The idea was to train our students, but also to train some of their employees so they can take the project over and continue working on the windows afterwards,” Swerdloff said.

McGrath, along with another Port employee, attended the workshop last weekend. He believes the complete restoration of all the windows will take several years.

“It’s a really labor-intensive process to bring these wood windows back to original glory,” McGrath said.

Overbay

The historic preservation program at Clatsop Community College has helped prepare students to enter the industry.

On top of being advantageous for the community, Overbay and Swerdloff view the college program as benefitting the next generation of workers.

“The program provides a good opportunity for students and gives them a lot of chances to go on for further education or look for jobs,” Swerdloff said. “We are really community-focused. Obviously, we are a community college, but really that is part of our mission — to be out in the community, engage people and help the community and just be involved with building owners, people and local contractors.”

Among those who have completed the program and moved on into the industry is Chris Gustafson, the owner of Vintage Window Restoration in Albany.

Gustafson, who Swerdloff considers one of the main window restoration experts in the state, is the instructor of the workshops and the wood restoration course.

He remains grateful for a program that redirected his career during the Great Recession in 2008.

“In the sense of taking what I learned and actually practicing it as a business and being dedicated to it, and then taking what I’ve learned and sharing it with others,” Gustafson said. “ … I don’t see it as a job, but as community service.

“To be born and raised in that town, go through the program and start a career in it then come back and teach — it’s just fantastic.”

Overbay

Ed Overbay stands in front of one of the windows the students restored and installed in the woodworking shop.