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!


  1. George: Nice work. Another "save."

  2. :)...Haven't saved it yet, John, but here's hoping! It's a neat little building that been in Phoenix, on this corner, for 130 years or do. I'd like to see it hit 14 decades if we can.

  3. This is a lovely example of Greek Revival architecture which, undoubtedly, does contain highly valuable old growth timber and quality craftsmanship. The proximity of the large pine tree on the main facade to the porch supports has me worried a bit, which should be looked into, but I see a sound structure. The recently updated roof and lack of any definitive building sagging are a plus. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Leesa. Yes, the tree in front is a problem, actually growing into the edge of the porch roof and, probably, responsible for the foundation issues of the front porch itself. Certainly it needs to be removed. The remainder of the foundation under the main volume is in very good shape and the metal roof, while not compatible, has done a good job of protecting the building. No obvious sagging and the siding and windows are all in good shape. I just hope that the owners are willing to consider other possibilities.

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