40 for 40: Cowlitz County
Downtown Longview Walking Tours

By Holly Chamberlainprevious story | next story | all stories

The City of Longview is unique in the state in that it was completely planned, from layout to street name, prior to the start of its construction in the early 1920s. Situated at the confluence of the Columbia and Cowlitz rivers, the city was established as a community for employees of the Long-Bell timber operations. Company owners realized that neither the existing small town of Kelso nor random private construction could readily absorb the expected 14,000 workers coming to staff two new mills, along with their families. Long-Bell Chief Engineer Wesley Vandercook oversaw the purchase and survey of the land to comprise the new town, and company president Robert A. Long secured the services of nationally-recognized landscape architect George Hessler and city planners Hare and Hare. Long further demonstrated his commitment to the community by personally donating the Monticello Hotel, Longview Public Library, R.A. Long High School, and the YMCA.
Dedicated in 1923 and incorporated in 1924, Longview’s original buildings are concentrated in the commercial core and in neighborhoods known as the Old West Side. While the greatest number of houses were built in 1926, the area experienced a boom from 1945-55 when war-rationed construction materials once again became available and troops returning from World War II service and their families built homes. Architectural styles represented include Colonial, Tudor, and Spanish revivals, Ranch, and Minimal Traditional.
It’s not surprising that a town which began to commemorate its exceptional history just 10 years after its dedication with the founding of the ’23 Club, would continue in that practice. Longview received a 1990 Award of Honor from the Washington Trust in recognition of its creation of a series of walking tours and a videotape – a thrillingly innovative technology then in its infancy for this purpose - on historic architecture.
Trust awards, traditionally presented during the annual meeting held at the annual conference, “recognized effort and excellence among private and public sector preservationists, all dedicated to the protection of Washington’s heritage.” Among honorees were outstanding projects done by individuals, non-profit organizations, private sector businesses, and public agencies. Other categories included outstanding preservationists, publications, education programs, and contemporary infill projects in historic districts. The Awards Committee, which was active during most of the 1980s and into the 1990s, had among its jurors board members Carolyn Feasey, Margot Vaughan, and Channell Graham.
Wonderfully, Longview has continued its practice of highlighting heritage and architecture. Since 2004, the city has systematically inventoried its historic housing stock using Certified Local Government grants which funded the work of consultants greatly assisted by thousands of volunteer research hours. Today, you can download walking tours of downtown Longview and the civic center from the city's website.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. This story highlights many of our programs and shows just how much need there is for strong preservation connections across the state. If you would like to support our work and spur more positive outcomes for Washington's historic resources, please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust to support the advocacy work we do. Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

The Washington Trust it current accepting submissions for its 2017 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. Please contact Jennifer Mortensen at jmortensen@preservewa.org with any questions!

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

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