Ashland historian wins 2007 Heritage Award

It is often said that when your work is what you love, it isn't work at all, but a passion. And anyone who knows George Kramer knows that he's passionate about history. People may not know his name, but the historic preservationist has been making his presence felt throughout Oregon for nearly two decades.

Some might feel inclined to ask what exactly a historic preservationist does, and they wouldn't be alone. Kramer himself describes his work as "a little bit of historian, architect, builder, planner, attorney and accountant." As the job title would suggest, Kramer is a man of many talents. He came to Oregon in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in History, and began work as a building contractor.

"I naturally gravitated toward working on older buildings," he said. Tired of what he described as "designing office furniture," he returned to school and received his master's degree in historic preservation from the University of Oregon. It would be the perfect match: his love of history coupled with years of practical experience in construction and architecture.

"I had the foolish idea to think I could actually make a living doing it." Armed with a master's degree and a foolish idea, he established Kramer Company, a historic preservation and consultation business, in 1989. "There wasn't really anyone who had done what I was trained to do."

He began by traveling around the state, speaking to anyone who would listen about the merits of restoration and preservation. Slowly but surely, local governments became aware of his work, and he became involved in numerous city-planning projects throughout Oregon and northern California. that point, realtors and contractors alike were coming to him from all over the state in request of his services. Any doubts he had about his line of work by then had vanished.

"I view my entire career as trying to help people use the past to make a better future." Kramer is determined in his belief that most historical buildings can be creatively reused. It is a combination of that determination &

and some luck &

which has led Kramer to where he is today.

Nearly 20 years after its founding, Kramer Company is still running strong. He has helped design more than 80 buildings in downtown Medford, including the Medford Rail Depot. He even had a hand in redesigning the Ashland Springs Hotel recently. Statewide, he has written a history of the interstate highway system for the Oregon Department of Transportation. He is currently finishing work on the history of Oregon's only nuclear power plant, Portland General Electric.

"I very frequently am in a position of doing really interesting things, being in interesting places, where most people don't get to go," he said of his work. "And I get paid to do it." In June, Kramer received the 2007 Heritage Award from the Southern Oregon Historical Society for his outstanding commitment to preservation and the promotion of history.

"I was honored to win the award. It was nice &

a little embarrassing. Somebody came up to me at the ceremony and said, 'I thought you'd be much older"&

166;' It's nice to think that someone appreciates what I'm doing."

Kramer has no plans of slowing down. He's still passionate about his work, and continues to be driven by its challenges and the rewards that come with them.

"I like to think that I've had some effect on all of these communities that I've lived in, and I hope that I will continue to have that effect for many years to come."

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