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MONTEITH Historic District
This is an image of ongoing exterior restoration work at the Monteith House in the 1970s. Photo: Stanford Smith/Albany Democrat Herald/Albany Regional Museum.
/ Community History
/ FOCUS ON: Thomas and Walter Monteith House 
/ Chooosing "Restoration" as a Treatment 

Working on the Past in Local Historic Districts
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Choosing Restoration
When the property's design, architectural, or historical significance during a particular period of time outweighs the potential loss of extant materials, features, spaces, and finishes that characterize other historical periods; when there is substantial physical and documentary evidence for the work; and when contemporary alterations and additions are not planned, Restoration may be considered as a treatment.

>> Standards + Guidelines

This is an image of the Monteith House in the 1970s, prior to restoration. Photo: Courtesy, Monteith Historical Society. This is an image of the Monteith House in 1978 when its restoration was in full swing. Photo: Stanford Smith/Albany Democrat Herald/Albany Regional Museum.
  ABOVE: The Monteith House in
its neighborhood context,
prior to Restoration in the
late 1970s. BELOW: Monteith
House as work begins. Note
the changed roofline, loss
of later exterior chimneys,
shutters, and porch.

What happens in Restoration? In this treatment, materials that can be authenticated to the period of significance are carefully retained and preserved, while later materials and features are removed. Restoration is generally recommended less frequently than Preservation or Rehabilitation because of the potential for loss of historic materials from other periods and falsification of the record.

At best, Restoration is a painstaking, scholarly process that involves backdating a structure to a particular time for interpretive purposes—based on physical and pictorial evidence. Because the Monteith brothers were pivotal in the early history and settlement of Albany, Oregon, the decision was made to return the house to its original configuration through Restoration. In 1975, after the City bought it for conversion to a museum, project work began. With its emphasis on the discovery and conservation of original mid-19th century materials, the Monteith House restoration was just such an exemplary project. Both the exterior and interior were restored and the house opened as a museum to interpret its “story” to the public.

Going backward in time
The conservation of original materials and features was paramount; however, a parallel task was to remove all later features and re-build missing original features to depict the appearance of the house at an earlier time. The house was gradually transformed from a 1920s residence to an 1850s residence, through a series of carefully planned restoration activities.

This is an image of ongoing exterior restoration work at the Monteith House in the 1970s. Photo: Stanford Smith/Albany Democrat Herald/Albany Regional Museum.
Focus on conservation
The house’s original wood siding and windows were carefully preserved.

Exterior Work on the Monteith House
The foundation was leveled to repair rotten beams.
The roofline was restored to its original appearance.
The two-story porch was re-created.
The original wood windows were repaired and preserved.
The original wood siding was scraped, sanded, and repainted.
The later chimney and shutters were removed.
The two-story rear kitchen addition was removed and a one-story kitchen re-built.


This is an image of the Monteith House after restoration to its 1850s appearance. Photo: Monteith Historical Society. This is a series of six images showing ongoing work on the Monteith House during the backdating process. Photos: Stanford Smith/Albany Democrat Herald/Albany Regional Museum.

The restoration of the house involved re-creating the appearance of the original roof and two-story porch on the primary elevation (left and top row), and the one-story rear kitchen wing (bottom row). When completed, the Monteith House was a thoughtful depiction of the structure at its most significant time in history. It was opened to the public in 1982.

Chronology of the Monteith House

1848 — Logs cut and left to cure
1849 — Hand-hewn beam construction started before and after Thomas and Walter Monteith went to the California gold fields
1850 — Anderson Cox mill started and cut Monteith House lumber that winter
1851 — Monteith House Finished
1855 — Fire in kitchen ceiling & in the single-story rear addition, rebuilt as two-story
1901 — House purchased from Monteith family by Dr. J.L. Hill moved 50 feet west, and turned to face north
1902 — City Directory gives Monteith House 518 2nd Street address for first time
1914 — Double porch clearly shown in aerial photo of city
1922 — Extensive exterior alterations made, including original porch removal
1975 — City of Albany purchases Monteith House for purposes of restoring it
1976 — House’s foundation made level
1977 — Restoration project in full swing
1982 — "Grand Opening” for the downstairs portion and exterior

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Appreciation is extended to Anne Giffen, Rebecca Bond, Allen Nelson, Doug Killin, Pam Silbernagel, and David Skilton for their generous contributions of time and information in the creation of the case study on Monteith Historic District. Thanks also to the Monteith Historical Society and Albany Region Museum for donating photographic images in their collections.