“[Art] DeMuro, a Portland developer and preservationist, whose firm redeveloped the White Stag Block in Old Town and a number of other historical properties, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 57. “
The Buckman neighborhood has lost a friend in Art DeMuro. BCA Chair Susan Lindsay, who worked with Art on the proposed redevelopment of Washington High School, penned this tribute:
By now most of you have heard the very sad news that Art DeMuro died Saturday night. I don’t know any details other than it was cancer of a rare and aggressive type. I did not know he was sick, and always commented whenever we met how great he looked.
Art was an unusual developer. While a keen businessman, he did what he did motivated by a desire to preserve buildings of historic worth from the wrecking ball. His projects, showcased on the Venerable Properties website, demonstrate his love of history and the restored buildings are beautiful to behold.
All of Portland has lost a friend this week….and especially Buckman. Art’s professional level of high standards and care in redevelopment took seed in Buckman in recent years and we have a number of preserved structures to show for it.
While meeting with Art over the years on other projects, it during was the Washington High School Redevelopment plan that I really got to know Art. Let’s just say, here was someone who didn’t bat an eye when I told him the school building talked to me……as I’m sure he in his own way had experienced this with his love of old forgotten buildings.
Last spring when Art was finally awarded the exclusive rights on the building and a purchase agreement was approved by the school board was one of the happiest days of my life. I felt so ‘relieved’..that at last the building was in the hands of someone who cared, and knew of its beauty and potential…and had the means and experience to make it anew again.
While I have no idea what his unexpected passing will mean for Washington High, I know what it means for us and me. We have suddenly and with no warning lost a wonderful, caring, intelligent, gifted man who knew how to navigate the difficult world of loans agreements, contracts, timelines and especially personalities to make beautiful, useful buildings appear from decades of waste and neglect. And I and many others have lost a man we considered a friend.
It’s ironic on another level for me. Last Thursday, having returned to Portland from being away much of August, I called some folks to specifically express gratitude for their work on projects we’ve been engaged with. I started to call Art, and then hesitated. I had so much to say to him..about how fabulous I thought he was, I decided to collect my thoughts some more before I called.
He was fabulous…and truly one of a kind. I will miss him very much. He was our friend.