Friday, February 22, 2013
Phoenix Update; The Devenney-Steadman House
Since last posting on this topic, the history of what we now know as the Devenney-Steadman House has come a bit more into focus. The house was almost certainly built about 1880 (possibly as early as 1875), by the Devenney family. It eventually came into the possession of Callie Devenney Steadman. “California” Devenney, born in that state in August 1864, moved to Phoenix at the age of ten and lived there, probably in this house, for the rest of her life. At some point she married, Mr. (Robert?) Steadman, and then was divorced (by 1900), but stayed in the family home. Callie appears to have enjoyed a long and full life in Phoenix, surrounded by relatives and one son, Douglas. Callie also raised several nieces and nephews from infancy, two of whom, Mrs. Milo Furry and Mrs. Elva Furry, married into another prominent Phoenix family. Elva and Robert Furry lived on West 2nd Street, next door to Callie, in another 19th century Phoenix house that is still standing. Callie Steadman passed away at her home, aged 79 years, in November 1943. Her obituary described her as “A real friend to all, she will be deeply missed by her many friends and neighbors.”
As it turns out, the Devenney-Steadman House was most recently occupied, as a rental, in October 2012. The owners, who have owned the house for many years, apparently want to move back into it in their retirement. They felt the house wasn’t in good condition and, with some confusion, the planning department and Phoenix Historical Society originally agreed with that assessment. However, I think that there isn’t enough information on that, and know full well that little vernacular houses like the Devenney-Steadman House, are built for “stout.” Such houses, built of high-quality old growth timbers, are usually pretty resilient and I’ve seen nothing in the main volume that would indicate otherwise.
Earlier this month, the Phoenix Historical Society "recanted" on their approval (their president's term, but I like it....) The Phoenix City Council issued a “stay” of the demolition permit, with the hope of finding a solution and a meeting with the owners to discuss rehabilitation options will happen within a short time. There are several good options, I think, that would allow them to get what they want and keep this important part of southern Oregon history standing for the future. Keep your fingers crossed!