History of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation

& the Architectural Heritage Center

For more than two decades, the Bosco-Milligan Foundation’s strong, ongoing commitment to preserving our regional architectural heritage has been based on the belief that vintage buildings and traditional neighborhoods are essential to the vitality and identity of our communities. Established in Portland, Oregon in1987, the Bosco-Milligan Foundation is one of Oregon’s most active non-profit historic preservation organizations. Our founders knew that when one historic building is lost, a piece of our history is gone forever.

The Architectural Heritage Center began as a vision of two remarkable men, Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan, and is their legacy to historic preservation in Portland and the Northwest. Alarmed by the tragic destruction of historic buildings throughout the region, Bosco and Milligan salvaged countless architectural pieces which would otherwise have been lost to the wrecking ball. From the 1950s – 1980s, they collected a truly awe-inspiring treasure trove of historic stained glass windows, building hardware, doors, light fixtures and shades, tiles, mantles, cast iron, and countless other historic building elements. The National Park Service documents that the Bosco-Milligan Foundation's collections are the largest in the West and among the five largest in the United States.

Prior to their passing, Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan established the Bosco-Milligan Foundation to fulfill their vision of a place where their collections could be used in education and training programs. Our vision of renovating the historic West's Block Building - constructed in 1883 at 701 SE Grand Avenue in Portland’s Central eastside - to house the Architectural Heritage Center was completed with the Center’s opening in 2005. The Center includes two exhibition galleries, two classrooms, workshop space, a library, collections storage spaces and the Foundation's offices. Our public historic preservation programming has increased four-fold at our “home base” and we have served the needs of more than 60,000 people, beginning in 1992. With continued progress on the professional inventory and documentation of the collections, public access will be expanded beyond the rotating exhibits in our galleries. The Architectural Heritage Center is a significant historic preservation education facility for the Portland region and plays an important role in celebrating and advocating for the architectural heritage of our city and region.

Meeting a Vital Community Need
The Portland area's rich diversity of vintage buildings defines the character of our community, and how it looks and feels both to long-time residents and newcomers alike. Our local history is irrevocably tied to these buildings, which stand as physical testaments to the hopes, dreams and talents of those who came before us. This is our architectural heritage - the built environment - which is vital to the fabric of our neighborhoods and community identity.

Growth and development pressures, deterioration, and unsuitable alterations threaten our building heritage throughout the region. The problem is compounded when people are unaware of knowledgeable craftspeople and lack knowledge of good preservation practices that need to be followed to take care for our historic buildings. With the appropriate resources and training, people go on to practice quality building preservation and restoration.

At the Architectural Heritage Center, we provide people with these resources throughout the year: teaching architectural traditions, styles, materials and building techniques, offering hands-on training in restoration, and ongoing outreach programs to the general public. We work to proactively promote a greater understanding and appreciation of preserving our building heritage.

Our programs and exhibits forge the link between people and places, between buildings of the past and the living communities of today. The Architectural Heritage Center – the physical facility and the resources within it – provides a unique and dynamic learning environment for people today and for generations to come.