Official chancellor’s mansion is problem property for state

Diane Dietz / Eugene Register-Guard /


Published Feb 26, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

EUGENE — Interim Oregon Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose says she’s not going to live in the official chancellor’s home in Eugene, an 8,111-square-foot, 1911 mansion in the Fairmount neighborhood known as Treetops.

That puts the future of the problematic property in doubt.

The property presents a conundrum for the chancellor’s office because, when a merchant donated the property to the state in 1938, it was with the stipulation that the chancellor or the University of Oregon president live there. The state pays upward of $50,000 annually to maintain the residence, and in some years has spent tens of thousands of dollars more on repairs.

UO President Michael Gottfredson lives at McMorran House, the university’s official residence.

The current departing chancellor, George Pernsteiner, has two homes: his own home in Portland and Treetops, which he is moving out of by the end of his state employment on March 31.

“Of course, Chancellor Pernsteiner will be moving out of Treetops, and then the board will have a look at what makes the most sense for Oregon,” Rose said.

The state doesn’t really need the property — but it can’t sell it, either.

At least the past three Oregon University System chancellors have all owned homes in Portland.

With the state possibly moving to dissolve the chancellor’s office and eliminate the post, there may be no state employee who needs the place or can legally occupy it.

If there’s no chancellor occupying the 2237 Spring Blvd. home, the 1938 deed requires that the house revert to the heirs of Campbell Church, the Eugene merchant who donated it.

In the early 1980s, heirs tried to take back the house on the grounds that it had been vacant for 13 months for renovations before a new chancellor took up residence. A judge ruled against the heirs and the house remained with the university system.

According to county records, the house and its 1.66 acres have a market value of $1.3 million.