A passion for historic buildings inspires Art DeMuro’s $2.8 million gift
EUGENE, Ore. — (Jan., 30, 2012) — The University of Oregon’s historic preservation program has received a $2.8 million gift from Portland developer Art DeMuro that will enable the 32-year-old program to advance preservation studies in a big way.
DeMuro, president of Venerable Group, Inc., has been a champion of the Historic Preservation Program for many years, giving generously of his time through guest lectures and mentoring students, serving on an advisory board and through many key charitable gifts. But this investment promises to change the course of the program and university’s history.
During the next two years, the program will be able to launch an annual symposium in Portland. New courses will be offered in both Eugene and Portland. Plus, additional staff and adjunct professors who are experts in historic preservation will be hired.
At the same time, the program will establish a new concentration in green preservation as part of the current Ecological Design Certificate, and re-energize the current concurrent master’s degree in architecture and historic preservation with a focus on cultural and environmental sustainability. The university will seek approval to relocate the core of the graduate program from Eugene to Portland’s White Stag Block, so that students and faculty alike might have more opportunities for fieldwork, research, and service learning within a diverse urban context.
Finally, the gift includes a bequest to fund the Venerable Chair in Historic Preservation. This chair will be the first endowed chair in historic preservation in a public university for a permanent faculty member, and the only endowed chair in historic preservation in the western U.S.
“This gift from Art DeMuro is truly transformational,” said Frances Bronet, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. “With his support, we will be able to accomplish many long held goals for the program.”
DeMuro, a leader in preservation real estate, views historic buildings as “treasures to be nurtured.” From Portland’s White Stag Block to Fire Station No. 7 and the Ladd Carriage House, his firm has helped revitalize surrounding neighborhoods by salvaging neglected buildings.
“My goal is to increase the educational opportunities for those who want to seek training in historic preservation,” DeMuro said. “My hope is that others who have a passion for this work and the means to make similar gifts will want to join in and make it a bigger effort.”
A former U.S. history teacher, DeMuro described his gift as an affirmation of the importance of education. “It’s a great balance for me to not only be professionally involved in historic preservation work, but also to advance the educational preparation that goes into the field,” he said.
Kingston Heath, professor and director of the Historic Preservation Program, said DeMuro’s generosity will have a deep and lasting effect.
“This gift will provide an enduring investment in preservation education and heritage conservation efforts that should place our program in the forefront of the field nationally,” Heath said.
The first outward sign of the program’s growth will be the expansion of the George McMath Historic Preservation Award recognition event this spring.
DeMuro started Venerable in 1991 after moving to Portland to pursue his passion for historic preservation. He chaired the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission and serves on the Board of Visitors for the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts. He also is a member of the Historic Preservation League of Oregon Board of Directors, the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The UO offers the state’s only graduate program in historic preservation. Nationally, it is set apart by its interdisciplinary emphasis within the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, a leader in the area of sustainable design.
Students enter the master's program with a range of backgrounds, including architecture and interior design, art history, anthropology, history, and planning. They concentrate on one of three areas: preservation theory, design, and technology; preservation planning and cultural resource management; and resource identification and evaluation. Undergraduate students have the option to minor in historic preservation.
About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.
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Photo: Art DeMuro, president of Venerable Group, is a passionate advocate for historic buildings. His gift to the University of Oregon supports education in historic preservation and will expand courses and research in Portland, Oregon. (photo credit: Michael McDermott)