The Rogers’ home before was a picture of Cottage Grove’s iconic look. PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE ROGERS FAMILY
Main Street east of US 99 has little of the charm of the brick Historic District. Most structures are business-related and are more modern and utilitarian in nature. The one oasis along that stretch was the Rogers residence that connected to their ”Rogers and Son” floor-covering business at 1324 E. Main St. The stately oaks shaded the 1890 house and preserved a glimpse into the past of Cottage Grove. Right next door ,where Safeway now stands, was the lot where Buster Keaton built his town movie set for ”The General.
”It was the only place on that stretch were you could watch the BMD Parade in the shade and folks would get there early to have a spot on the sidewalk,” Carol Rogers said.
Just a month ago, on Aug. 17, that serene scene tragically was engulfed in a fire that claimed not only a lot of history but the beloved home of Dave and Carol Rogers. The fire spread so fast and consumed the old wood so quickly that nothing of the house could be saved. The Rogerses feel blessed that everyone made it out safely and that their business next door was spared as well as the neighbors.
As sad as it was to lose their home, the Rogerses have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern that has come from the community.
”We have a long list of people to thank,” Dave Rogers said. ”Probably 10 or more stop by every day to check on us and express their concern – neighbors, customers, and we even have had cards from complete strangers. Everybody has been so wonderful.”
The Rogerses started their floor-covering business in Eugene, but decided to move it down to Cottage Grove in 1993. ”We have been very happy to be here and work in this area,” Dave said. They have good friends and customers in Creswell, Yoncalla, Drain and Cottage Grove, many of whom have contacted the Rogerses with offers of help and support.
”We were lucky to have insurance, so we will be able to rebuild. We would like to reconstruct the house just like it was, but the zoning has changed to Commercial/Residential about three or four years ago,” Carol said. ”While the old house was standing it was grandfathered in, but now that it is gone it can’t be built back the way it was. We would have to put a strip mall or commercial building out in front and the house in back of that. We will have to see what the city will let us do. In any case, it will probably be one and a half years before it’s built.”
Carol said an arborist will examine the old oak trees on the property, and she hopes at least some of them will survive.
”Some might have gotten too hot in the fire, but those old oaks are tough,” Carol said. ”In the old days, the Kalapuya used fire to keep the oak savannas clear and rich for acorns, so oaks can handle some fire.
”I hope, too, that the zoning can bend a bit so that we can have something beautiful and familiar on East Main that reminds us of the golden past instead of another strip mall to contemplate,” she added.
There are already enough commercial vacancies in that area as it is. I would much rather have oaks and a building that reflects the rich history of Cottage Grove. I am sure that the Rogers family would agree.