Timbered timbre: Amphitheater proposed for Coolidge McClaine Park

December 2018 Posted in Community, Music & Band
A design for the amphitheater proposed for Coolidge McClaine Park in Silverton.       Submitted Image

A design for the amphitheater proposed for Coolidge McClaine Park in Silverton. Submitted Image

When a group of six friends started talking about building an amphitheater in Silverton’s Coolidge McClaine Park, they didn’t know such a structure was included in the city’s Parks Master Plan. They just saw a need.

When they took their concept to the City Council Nov. 5, it was met with an enthusiastic response.

As team member Jim DeSantis imagines it, the estimated $78,650 timber frame structure would be built during a 10-day workshop where community members could learn timber framing. He hopes to involve high school shop students, as well.

“The idea started with wanting to do a timber frame workshop with community members,” said DeSantis, who owns Silver Creek Timberworks.

“I think the proposal is incredible,” Mayor Kyle Palmer said. “I love the project. I think it’s beautiful.”

Palmer said the Silverton Rotary Club, of which he is a member, has had to rent a stage for the Homer Davenport Community Festival, and it’s likely the Homer Davenport Foundation would provide a grant for the project.

Jason Gottgetreu, Silverton’s community development director, has met with the team. He said a more formalized location and a refined design is still needed. It may also need to be presented to the Parks and Recreation Committee.

DeSantis expects the project to take two years.

“Since we’ve talked to the city and the City Council, it may move quicker,” he said.

Funding is one of the biggest issues. DeSantis is hoping the project will cost the city little to nothing, though there may be some city funds available. He expects to find grants, and he hopes local contractors and suppliers will help, too.

DeSantis discovered timber framing by reading about it when he was in college. He said he had seen some old barns that were built that way, but had no idea people were still using the process.

Timber framing is a specific style of construction where “heavy timber is joined together via mortises and tenons, then secured with wooden pegs,” according to the Timber Framers Guild website.

Most of DeSantis’ work is residential, but his work can be seen at the Oregon Garden.

DeSantis is a member of the Timber Framers Guild, which puts on workshops on timber framing and builds community projects in the process.

“They were always good experiences where timber framers just came together with community members,” he said.

He worked with the nonprofit organization when it built the pavilion at Salem’s Riverfront Park.

“It was a great experience and a great structure,” he said.

His favorite guild project was the visitors pavilion at the remote Central Suriname Nature Reserve, deep in the jungle of the South American coastal country located between Guyana and French Guiana.

“It was just a fantastic setting and a very interesting project working with locals,” he said.

DeSantis has lived in Silverton for 20 years, and he has always wanted to do a similar project at home.

When he and a group of friends were talking about the need for an amphitheater at the park, they decided to put together a plan.

The team includes DeSantis, Beth Carey, Gus Frederick, Charles Lobdell, Victor Madge and Mary Jane Schaffer. Lobdell is retired and has a sawmill.

Carey is DeSantis’ apprentice, and she has been a student and an instructor in building workshops. She also operates the Lobdell family’s sawmill.

Frederick is a multimedia artist who serves on the Planning Commission and on the board of the Silverton Country Historical Society.

Madge is an architectural services provider; he is also on the Planning Commission and is president of the historical society board.

Schaffer is an operations analyst with the state. She served as chairwoman of Silverton’s Anne Frank Exhibit and the governor’s state employees food drive.

Together they proposed a structure that will “provide a performance space for a variety of different groups and events, and serve as a gathering place for locals and a tourist attraction.”

“I’m just kind of excited to see where it goes,” DeSantis said. For more information or to help, call DeSantis at 503-932-1395.

Silver Creek Timberworks Facebook: Silver Creek Timberworks

Timber Framers Guild www.tfguild.org

City of Silverton www.silverton.or.us

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