Bricklayers win national award for work on historic Oswego Iron Furnace

Oswego Iron Furnace
The Oswego Iron Furnace was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Portland-based Bricklayers Local 1 and signatory contractor Pioneer Waterproofing received the 2013 Craft Award for Best Restoration/Rehabilitation/ Maintenance Project from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).

The award is for “their exceptional collaboration on the restoration of the Oswego Iron Furnace.” The historic furnace is located at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego.

Built in 1866 at the confluence of Oswego Creek and the Willamette River, the Oswego Iron Furnace was the first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast. It began operating in August 1867, and closed in 1885. It is the only surviving iron furnace west of the Rocky Mountains.

Over the years the furnace suffered from partial collapse, deterioration of the brick, displacement, and cracks. In 2003, citizens and the Lake Oswego City Council set out to restore the furnace. Work began in July 2009 and was completed in May 2010. The restoration cost $918,000 and was funded through the City’s hotel tax, which was raised in 2008.

Local 1 member Cameron Orvin restores brick arches inside the furnace to look identical to their original construction.
Local 1 member Cameron Orvin restores brick arches inside the furnace to look identical to their original construction.

In consultation with Miller Consulting Engineers, 18 members of Local 1 employed at Pioneer Waterproofing repaired the damage and restored the 44-foot-tall structure to its original glory. Grout was inserted in the interior cavities and vertical tie rods were installed to hold the rock in place. It is stabilized to the point that it can now withstand an earthquake.

Last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Oswego Iron Furnace project one of its 22 National Preservation Honor Award winners.

BAC has handed out its Craft Awards since 1986 to recognize exceptional achievement in masonry construction and craftsmanship, and distinguished union and community service by BAC members.

An awards ceremony was held in Philadelphia in September in conjunction with the international union’s Executive Council meeting.

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