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Save the Historic Wilkes Property for a City Park!

Tax deductible
Update: 7/15/24
We have closed the donation function for now while we try to work out how to save the property. The contractor that was hired to do the demo was gracious enough to save a lot of the house's special features and old wood. We need to focus on the property for now and maybe, once secured we can build new with some of the old historic pieces saved. Email us if you would like further information. The monies raised so far will go towards expenses to fight for the land and history of the property. Thank you for all your help! The Banks Historical Society members

UPDATE: Despite the proposed water treatment plant not being scheduled to be built for 5-7 years, the property’s absentee corporate owners, Lone Oak Land and Investment Company and Wolverine Financial, chose to demolish the house on Friday, over the long July 4 weekend -- before any discussion could take place about alternative locations for the City's water plant, before historic landmark designations could be applied for and just days before the City Council’s planned July 9, 2024 work session to discuss the possibility of preserving the Wilkes House. The current administration at the City of Banks did nothing to stop the demolition.

As part of the development agreement between the City and the property's owners for the creation of the 30-acre Sunset View at West Banks residential and commercial development, the City will obtain that acre of the historic property for “municiple use,” which the City has designated for the water treatment plant.

As both the City and the property owners knew, the Wilkes House met three separate criteria for eligibility for the National Register, according to the state’s preservation office. This designation would have aided the Historical Society in obtaining grants for the restoration and preservation of the 150-year-old home and the acre of heritage trees that surround it.

The absentee corporate owners chose to demolish the house before we had a chance to get it registered.

A heartfelt thanks to all who have donated to our preservaton efforts. Please know, the house may be gone, but our efforts are not over. Please feel free to donate to the project as we continue to seek ways to turn this site into a park and historical resource for our community.

For more information on the project and ongoing updates, visit the Banks Historical Society Facebook page. If you would like to get involved, please contact us!

Banks Historical Society and the newly formed Friends of The Wilkes House are asking for donations to help save this beautiful, historic house and the urban forest that surrounds it. Both are currently in danger of being torn down and turned into an industrial site.

Built in the early 1870s, The Wilkes House is one of the oldest -- if not the oldest -- site-built pioneer buildings in Banks. It was home to the Wilkes family who came out on the Oregon Trail in 1845 and were the area's first permanent Euro-American settlers. Most of the City of Banks sits on the original Wilkes land claim.

The funds we raise to save this landmark home -- in situ -- will go toward legal representation, an arborist to do a tree inventory and hiring other specialists who might be needed to assist in the cause. The money we raise will also repay the Banks Historical Society's small bank account for the $900 cost that was paid last winter to have a building inspector do a structural evaluation of the 150+-year-old house to make sure it could be saved.

Any remaining funds will go directly into securing the house, having seed money for grant opportunities and to begin renovation projects once an agreement with the City of Banks is obtained.

This beautiful, historic home, along with the acre of old trees surrounding it, provide a unique, last-chance opportunity for the City of Banks to work with the Historical Society to preserve our community's most significant landmark site.

The site is in a perfect location: in full view of -- and mere steps away from -- the trailheads for the Banks-Vernonia State Trail and the new Salmonberry Trail, along with the forthcoming Council Creek Regional Trail. It will be a boon to tourism, enhancing local business.

Our vision: To turn the historic, 150-year-old Wilkes House into a museum and cultural community center surrounded by a beautiful, 1-acre shady park and arboretum for residents and tourists to enjoy all year long.

Unfortunately, we are up against the momentum of development plans that would destroy this significant historic landmark, and we need to act fast to save it.

The current plan for the property is to tear down the historic house and the city's largest continuous canopy of old (and possibly heritage preservation) trees to build a water treatment plant on the site.

Banks Historical Society is asking the developers to reconsider these plans and put the proposed water treatment plant elsewhere, so this beautiful, historic property can be preserved.

The Wilkes House is a treasure that must be saved. As a museum and cultural center surrounded by a beautiful, shady community park, The Wilkes House will beautify and enrich our community for generations to come.

NOTE: We are in no way asking to stop any of the Westside development other than changing the use of this 1-acre parcel that is already agreed upon to be given to the City by the landowners and developers. The Wilkes House museum and park would enhance the aesthetics, value and livability of the Westside development.

More information can be seen on the Banks Historical Society website ( and the City of Banks website's calendar where you can see the witten testimony from members of the Banks Historical Society from the June 11th, 2024 City Council work session along with audio from the meeting.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Thank you,
Banks Historical Society Members


  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 12 d
  • K Mohling
    • $100 
    • 12 d
  • Arthur Thurber
    • $100 
    • 13 d
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 15 d
  • Natasha Cimmiyotti
    • $50 
    • 15 d


Jennifer Newton
Banks, OR
Banks Historical Society

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