John Goodenberger’s walking tour of historic homes is one of Astoria’s hidden treasures. The tour is not a regular occurrence. It comes together when Goodenberger and an audience coincide.

If Liisa Penner holds the key to a broad swath of Clatsop County genealogy, Goodenberger is the biographer of Astoria’s deep inventory of storied homes. The tour explains the architecture as well as the human stories behind the homes.

Goodenberger’s story about the Sanborn House is one of the most tragic. After Sanborn died, his family succeeded in disinheriting his young wife. She spent the rest of her life cleaning homes.

Seeing the Sanborn House on the front of Friday’s edition was a delight. The home’s owners – Jack Osterberg and Bill Bender – have won this year’s Harvey Award in the residential category. Given by the Astoria City Council, the Harvey Awards recognize excellence in preservation. After the Sanborn home left family ownership in 1979, it went decades that included more downs than ups. The downside included a collapsed kitchen ceiling.

Next to the Capt. George Flavel House, the Sanborn House is one of Astoria’s richest architectural treasures. It is featured in one of the Painted Ladies books.

Restoring a residence such as this is a major dedication of time, energy, imagination and money. Astoria is fortunate to have a succession of home owners willing to make that commitment.

The Owens-Adair senior residential home was recognized in the commercial category of the Harvey Awards. Restoration of its windows was a major feat. Windows are a key and often complicated element in a renewal project. As Chelsea Gorrow noted in her Friday article, several people contributed to the success of this window project. Clatsop Community College’s preservation program is also being recognized with a Harvey Award. This CCC program is a wonderfully symbiotic thing – an extension of Astoria’s preservation ethic and a sustainer of that ethic.

America and Astoria have come a long way in the past half century. In the 50s and 60s, our cities lost many important buildings because no value was put on our architectural heritage. Dr. Edward Harvey, for whom these awards were named, was a fairly lone voice when he began restoration of his own home and publicly recognized the significance of Astoria’s other historic homes in the Sixties. Harvey would be astounded and delighted if he could be brought back to life for a look at Astoria in 2012.

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