Fall 2015 News

Welcome to our website about historic Garden Home. In the People and Places pages, you’ll find over a hundred stories and several hundred photos of vintage Garden Home and residents attending our events.

Mildred Stevens, 2009

Mildred Stevens, 2009

We are saddened to report Mildred Steven’s death. This early resident of Garden Home recently celebrated her 99th birthday. She was widely loved and revered by generations of our residents and school children. Her recall of Garden Home history was vital to our research. Her service will be held Sept. 20 at 1 pm at the King City Recreation Room. Memorials may be made to our Garden Home History Project, 7240 SW 82nd, Portland 97223, or to the Washington County 4-H Association, 155 N. First Ave., 3200 Mails Stop 48, Hillsboro, OR 97124 or to the Red Cross. Her newspaper obituary will be at Oregonlive.com.

Check out the interesting historical sign post that Jan Fredrickson has posted near the Fanno Creek Trail and his home. His story lists the families who used to live on 78th.

Historic Garden Home street signs are again available for $65. We’ll print the persons or events that you may wish to honor with your sign request. Click here to read the Treasurer’s report for lists of previous sign donors and honorees, and for instructions on how to send your donations or purchase requests. Click here for a map of the 27 street sign locations (as of March 2015). Four new signs will be up soon.

Our Century Home program will begin soon. Virginia Vanture, Stan Houseman and Nathalie Darcy have been developing the list of over a dozen one-hundred year old homes in Garden Home. The dedication ceremony includes invited guests, a plaque for the door area, and a special booklet about historic Garden Home.

Holiday Bazaar at the Garden Home Recreation Center, Dec. 5, 2015, all day. We’ll have the same location as last year but probably selling Historic Garden Home t-shirts this year. You can get previous year’s calendars for a bargain price. Many families love them for the photos and the history.

The Nordia House café, Broder Soder, has opened in the lovely new building at 8800 SW Oleson Road. They serve breakfast and lunch from 9 am until 3 pm Tues. thru Friday. Outdoors is nice. 971-373-8749. See ScanHeritage.org for more information about Nordia House.

Hideaway Park has been renamed for Babette Horenstein, a long-time dedicated volunteer in our community and who was on the Board of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District. This decision was made by the THPRD Board despite some negative response from the community.

Elaine Shreve will be doing an abbreviated tour of early pioneers’ graves at the Crescent Grove Cemetery, near Washington Square on Halloween morning. This has been requested by the city of Tigard and the Tigard Historical who will also participate. This tour will begin a 2 hour “Walking Tour” of the Tigard area led by Joanne Bengstson, 503-718-2476.

We invite you to attend our regular meetings, the second Monday of each month, 3 to 4:30 pm at the Garden Home Recreation Center. We enjoy the 2 minute history lesson from each member and then get on to our business. Please let me know so I can assure seating: Elaine Shreve 503-246-5879.

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Stanley Marugg

Give-away blotter for Garden Home Dairy.

Give-away blotter for Garden Home Dairy.

The old Marugg hay barn, off of south Oleson Road, was the local hang-out for Garden Home kids in the 1930s and 1940s.  Hay bales could be pulled around and stacked into all sorts of forts and tunnels.  Joanne Day broke her leg falling out of the loft. Dean Day also fell out of a different area, bouncing off a shed below to land in the manure pile.  Mrs. Day had to hose him down before entering the house.

The Maruggs had the Garden Home Dairy, on the west side of Oleson Road near Skyhar Drive. Stanley Marugg has sent these wonderful photos and a brief story of the Marugg family.  We’ll add a few notes to his story for clarification:

Stanley’s father, Michael Marugg was 18 years old when he immigrated to the United States from Switzerland in 1912.  He was fortunate to have missed passage on the Titanic because of its delayed departure date.  The Titanic sailed on April 10, 1912.

Michael and Gertrude Engel Marugg, 1965.

Michael and Gertrude Engel Marugg, 1965.

Michael then settled in eastern Washington, gained employment in the area on dairy farms, and met his wife Gertrude Engel in Rosalia, Washington.  In 1924 they purchased the farm in Garden Home and built the dairy barn onto the larger hay barn and silo that was there.

Former Marugg milking parlor, 1930-50.

Former Marugg milking parlor, 1930-50.

Their children were George, Barbara, Robert, and twins Shirley and Stanley. The big hay barn was finally torn down when a long milking parlor building was completed.  This building still stands at 8075 SW Oleson Rd.  This building housed 12 cows on each side for the milking machines which were purchased in 1937.  Stanley remembers a period of time when the cows were milked by hand.  They had 50 cows when they moved their dairy to Washougal and had three days of hand milking, twice a day, before the milking parlor was ready.  Today the dairy barn has been converted to a shop visible from Skyhar Drive.  The original house has been moved two blocks to the south and is still on Oleson Road.  The dairy was originally named the Jersey Home Dairy. (Jerseys were highly prized for their rich milk and mild temperament in this era.  They were commonly called beautiful cows for the brown shadings.)

Jersey Cow

Jersey Cow

In 1938 the name was changed to Garden Home Dairy.  Home delivery routes were established in the Garden Home, Metzger and Collins View and Multnomah area by (brother) George before he joined the Navy in 1941.

Robert was born in 1927 and the twins Shirley and Stanley in 1931.  Some people may remember Robert (Bob) Marugg who, nearly blind, sold household brooms, brushes and other household supplies door to door in the area.  In a 2012 telephone interview, Robert said he had congenital cataracts and then a detached retina.  He went to Blind School in Salem and graduated from Beaverton High in 1946.  Alta Hansen reports that Bob Marugg liked to go swimming in the downtown YMCA pool.  Once when he dove off the high board, the pressure caused the detached retina.

When George quickly joined the Navy in WWII, the family was left without a driver for the milk truck so his sister Barbara became the primary milk route driver.  Shirley would run the milk bottles up to the houses. On special occasions they permitted Bob, almost blind, to drive the milk truck also. The milk route was sold in 1944 to Ted Raz and sold later to the Silver Hill Dairy in Hillsdale.  During this period, milk sold for eleven cents delivered on the porch.The farm was sold in 1951 and the dairy moved to Washougal, Washington.  George became a veterinarian and died in Albany in 2014.  Today Robert lives in Olympia, WA; Shirley lives in Washougal, WA, and Barbara and Stanley live in Vancouver, WA.  The father Michael Marugg, born 5-18-1893, passed away in 1967.   His beloved wife Gertrude was born on 7-2-1899 and died in 1974.There was no Garden Home Park in 1951.  We do not have the exact history but old-timers tell us that the area was a swampy pasture. The Park District was approved in 1955 and the park seemed to have been absorbed by them at this time.

Earthquake:  Stan also remembers the big earthquake of April 1949.  He was sitting in one of their milk trucks he’d driven to Beaverton High School and was bouncing up and down during the quake.  His dad said he never seen concrete bend until then.  He said it was like a wave moving through the concrete in the dairy barn. Beaverton High School sustained damage to the third floor which had to be removed after the earthquake. The Oregonian story does not report the Richter Scale number.  There was severe damage in the Puget Sound area and south into Portland.  We have seen a report that the original 1912 Garden Home School was demolished in 1967 due to previous earthquake damage and a cracked foundation.

© by Elaine Shreve, 2015.

Photos and story from Stanley Marugg.

-See Steve Bauer story for photos and story of the area. https://gardenhomehistory.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/steve-bauer-skyhar-area/

-See Plane Crash for Marugg memory. https://gardenhomehistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/1940s-plane-crash/

-See Feldman for stories of the Fanno Creek Dairy. https://gardenhomehistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/bob-feldman/

-See Gertsch family for Shattuck Dairy and other dairies in the area. https://gardenhomehistory.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/early-dairies-by-pete-gertsch/

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Lynn McMullin Abstom and Charleen McMullin Oberst (sisters)

Marilyn McMullin Korvola

Marilyn McMullin, Charleen McMullin

We were playmates with Ross Fogelquist, Richard Olson, Beth Olson and Deanna Roshak. I must have been 8 or 10 years old in the early 1950s. We kids built the town of “Joseph” in the Olson back yard. It was made out of fish crates…big wooden boxes that fish were shipped in. We had to air out the boxes so they didn’t smell. I think Richard’s dad brought them home. We must have stacked the crates on top of one another. We had houses and a jail, we had a store. Our town got its name because someone had real fire department hats from the town of Joseph, Oregon (Ross Fogelquist). We got ahold of them and decided that would be the name of our town. The town was protected in the trees so it was used for several years…seems like we did anyway. We probably had a mayor and sheriff.

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Yvonne Brod 

Montclair Elementary School

Montclair Elementary School

I was a PE teacher at Montclair Elementary School from 1975 to 1999.   In 1982 when Garden Home School closed, I remember there was a lot of pressure on the families who had to move their kids to Montclair and Raleigh Hills schools.  Montclair had an assembly to welcome the new kids from GH.  I remember we had some music and I’m sure some kind words.  It was probably done in the Spring, before the new kids came in the Fall.  Montclair had about 180 kids before the GH kids arrived.  Rick Evers was a teacher from GH who moved to Montclair.

Yvonne has been an active member of the Tigard Historical Society in her retirement.

Interviewed by Patsy VandeVenter, 2012.

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Jan Fredrickson

“Wormwood Manor” is located at 6995 SW 78th and has always intrigued us: large property, an official name, a logo interpreted throughout the property and an air of a country estate. Jan Fredrickson was born and brought home to this property just two weeks after his parents purchased and moved to the property in 1954. The home had been built in 1940. Jan’s grandmother owned the Schanen property on Oleson Road. Like many early properties, the home has a hand-dug root cellar for cool storage of vegetables.

Jan’s parents, Vernon and Jeanette Fredrickson continued to live in Garden Home until their deaths. Jan has placed a memorial bench on the Fanno Creek Trail at 78th to honor their lives in Garden Home. It reads:


In Memory of
The Fredrickson’s
Vernon Eldur 12/15/1920 to 1/6/2008
Jeanette Marguerite 7/17/1914 to 8/21/1997
Loving Parents and Creators of Worm Wood Manor

Vernon was an electrical engineer and worked at Tektronix in Beaverton. Jan describes his mother as a vivacious, opinionated, action-oriented woman who could knock down posts to achieve a new porch. She was a collector “of everything” which makes for a most interesting home.

Wormwood sign 1, crJan doesn’t know where his mother got the name “Wormwood” for the property. She designated the stylized eagle sign for the entry sign and to adorn the home. She also designed the front porch, a change from the original.

Jan grew up in Garden Home, graduated from 6th grade at Garden Home School, attended Whitford Middle School and then Beaverton High. He remembers that there were few houses on 78th, first called Firlock Lane. The family names listed below may not be correctly spelled, apologies.

The families who lived on 78th, starting with the house next door to Jan and going south were Smith, Nichols, George, Gangones, unknown, Hess, Carlo Poutala, Phil and Marie Mistler, Ernie and Melba Cook and Ellen Bell, an artist. Bev Nichols has lived on the street the longest.

On the east side of 78th, the Partlows lived in the first house next to Garden Home Road, then going north, the columned Partlow-Kickbush house, then Hare, Vermillion, Partlow, Watts, Heisenreiters, Edwards, Shedds and the Dardis family. Other newer homes have been built on the street.

At the northern end of 78th, next to Fanno Creek Trail is a small road where the Calls, the James and the Scott families lived. The Deardorf family lived in the James house and now Lane Gossett lives there.

The properties on the west side of 78th were often platted very narrow and deep with no streets designated for 79th or 80th. The narrowness did not permit flag lots and thus limited use for the back of the lots.

The property at 7555 SW Garden Home Road has been used as a dog grooming business during the 1970s into early 2000s. The Garden Home path now runs along in front of the home as it provides a safe walking path for children and residents who used to have to walk down on the road to get to school. Home owners had to cede a portion of their property to develop this path. However, the early owner of this property was adamant that no one would walk on his property and children had to go down and walk on the busy road and then resume the path at 76th. He was known to put up barricades or sit at the door with his shotgun.

Jan attended the old original school with the entry to the south up many steps to the library. Bicycles were a favorite activity for boys especially. Jan enjoyed climbing trees and building forts, sometimes getting the nickname of Apeman.

Jan worked a variety of jobs ending in food service management at Oregon Health and Science University. He retired in 2008 and then again after working part-time, in 2015.  He moved back to the family home after his father died in 2008. He is ably assisted in his activities by his dachshund J.R. and little Yorkie, Huesos. With Jan’s interest in Garden Home history, he has placed a clever early history signage pole on his property, to be seen along Fanno Creek trail.

© Garden Home History Project, Elaine Shreve, 2015.

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Washington County Oral History Project

June 2015: The Washington County Oral History project, funded through Pacific University, has been completed. I have worked with them to include the oral histories on our website.  Cynthia Lopez has been the administrator of the project which ceased on June 30, 2015. The following websites share their information. The next step is to digitize the oral histories. Here is Cynthia’s concluding letter:

From: “Lopez, Cynthia J.”
To: Garden Home History Project
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 11:13 AM
Subject: RE: Washington County Oral Histories follow-up survey

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for your note. I agree about digitizing the histories and I think it is a great idea to work with high school students!

Pacific University has applied for funding to digitize the histories and put them online. If/when that happens, that would also be when more detailed descriptions of each oral history could be written. There is a lot of richness in the Garden Home History Project that wasn’t captured in our initial inventory for the planning project.

I want to make sure you have all of the links from the Washington County Oral History Planning Project:

First, here is the link to the county-wide oral history inventory: http://wcoralhistories.omeka.net/items/browse

Second, here is the link to the Washington County Oral History Plan:


Third, here is the link to the proof-of-concept digital exhibit:


My work at Pacific University ends on June 30 with the completion of the oral history grant. It was a pleasure to work on this project and share the results with you! 

If you want to communicate more about the Washington County Oral History Planning Project, you can email archives@pacificu.edu.

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Summer 2015 News

We’re having a warm summer with record breaking heat in the upper 90s. These photos from John & Marie Pacella’s big garden.

We’ve overhauled the website! We migrated to the WordPress platform with a whole new look and feel. We hope you enjoy the new format. The site features over 130 posts with over 650 photos. We have ceased updating the old website.

2012 Lamb's Garden Home Thriftway, bell tower.

Lamb’s Market Garden Home

With the retirement of Bob Lamb, the “business” of Lamb’s Thriftway has been purchased by the Beaverton area Bales Marketplace stores.  The store will retain the current general operation with improvements to the layouts and services.  Colin Lamb will continue to be the “landlord” and will keep his office at the store.  We are very appreciative of Colin’s help on our history research and becoming a nonprofit.

Nordia House grand opening June 2015. Located on SW Oleson Rd near Fogelbo.

Nordia House grand opening June 2015. Located on SW Oleson Rd near Fogelbo.

Nordia House, the big new Scandinavian Heritage Foundation’s cutural center has opened. This large facility, 8800 SW Oleson Road, is located on the southern part of Oleson Road closer to Hall Boulevard, next to Fogelbo. It will provide a variety of activities to the community in addition to the new Scandinavian cafe Broder Soder which will open soon.

THPRD has proposed to honor the late Babette Horenstein, a 17 year veteran of the Park District’s Board in addition to many other community activities, by renaming Hideaway Park with her name.

The Dr. McNeil’s veterinary office has been demolished making room for an apartment building. More information to come.

Thanks to Debbie Bighaus-West for the Simmons, Patton, Oleson family story  in a fascinating account of coming West. Garden Home was officially named in a legal document in 1881. We will post the story soon!

Early 1900's Garden Home Train Depot (view from the east).

Early 1900’s Garden Home Train Depot (view from the east). Courtesy Colin Lamb.

The Multnomah Historical Association has had two recent articles with excellent photos regarding the Oregon Electric trains of the early 1900s. They were first routed on a single set of tracks on the Maplewood trestle through a curve in the heart of Maplewood. This permitted only one train using the tracks at a time. (See also photo on our 2015 calendar, February.) By 1914, the chasm between Garden Home and Multnomah had been filled and the double set of tracks laid in a straight line.

We have completed the IRS requirements for non-profit designation. Our Garden Home History Project now has official Officers and a Board of Directors. We have completed IRS and State of Oregon applications, forms and requirements of the 501-(c) (3) Federal program to qualify as a small non-profit Association. Thanks to Colin Lamb from Lamb’s Markets for professional services. Nathalie Darcy directed our By-laws. Marie Pacella, Patsy Van deVenter and Elaine Shreve completed the process.

Marie Pacella is the new Treasurer. Patsy VandeVenter has done a wonderful job since we started in 2010. Patsy will now be Secretary. Marie will continue keeping the database and mailing out our infrequent emails and newsletters. Thanks to two very dedicated members.

Historic Garden Home street signs are again available. We have recently ordered one new sign and three replacement signs to bring our total to 31 signs. Each new sign helps to brand our interesting historical area. Learn how to order a sign for your street.

Virginia Vanture, Stan Houseman and Nathalie Darcy are developing a program to identify the CENTURY Homes in Garden Home. This promises to be very interesting, probably over a dozen homes were built before 1915. The Hunt Club area has several that were built in the early years of the last century.

We’ve updated the story of the 1944 crash of a P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane in Garden Home. We also describe other notable fighter plane crashes in the area.

Historic Garden Home 2015 Calendar and note card sets are available now. These calendars are great just for the historic photos and text. Order by mail for $12 each. We still have some 2013 and 2014 calendars, $5 for the package of two. Calendars are available locally for $8 at Lamb’s Garden Home Thriftway and the Garden Home Library.

Thanks for your comments and memoirs. Your comments at the bottom of each page go directly to our email.

Attend our regular meetings, the second Monday of each month, 3 to 4:30 pm at the Garden Home Recreation Center. We enjoy the 2 minute history lesson from each member and then get on to our business. Please let me know so I can assure seating: Elaine Shreve 503-246-5879.

About Us!

The Garden Home History Project records and preserves the History of this area. Historic Garden Home is a suburb southwest of Portland, Oregon and mostly contained in unincorporated Washington County. It extends roughly one mile out in each direction from the intersection of Garden Home Road and Oleson Road.

This non-profit organization is chaired by Elaine Shreve, 503-246-5879. Special thanks to our Advisory Group of dedicated volunteers.

We encourage you to send us your stories, photos or artifacts. We can scan photos and return them to you.

Join the Club!

Your donations and calendar sales provide our funds for signs, printing, research, postage and other costs. Our emails (and U.S. postage ) will keep you informed.

Click here to support the project!

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Bulletin Board Stories

Our History Board at the Garden Home Recreation Center features a changing display of historic Garden Home stories. All of these stories can be found on our website.
Virginia Vanture created these boards for several years. Louise Cook Jones is now in charge, 2014.

#14 The Gardens of Garden Home

#13: Music and musicians in Garden Home, Church, Joe Dardis, Jim Bastien, others.

#12: Baseball and softball teams in Garden Home, Portland, and Alpenrose.

Ever since the playing fields appeared at the new Garden Home School in the early 1900s, ball players were there, with pick-up games, recess play, team and league events.
Baseball was very popular. Click to read more.

#11: Memorial board detailing the 1944 fighter plane crash here in Garden Home. The poster for the Armed Forces Day celebration where we took photos of our veterans and saw a slide show of “our” pilot who crashed here. Click to read more.

#10: Garden Home Extension Study Group: This group of local homemakers has been meeting for over 55 years to learn good home making practices and enjoy fellowship.

#9. Ross Fogelquist, Fogelbo.

#8. Dr. Hetlesater, tuberculosis treatment.

#7: Garden Home School information from the P.T.A. newsletters, Gazettes and student notes.

#6. 2012. Memorial board honoring some of our early residents and their histories: Ernie and Melba Cook, Dr. Hetlesater, Richard Stevens, Vivian Bosley, Peter Gertsch, Andreas and Magdelana Von Bergen, Charles and Musetta Amelia Adams, and the Morris Pallay family. The list of our generous donors and the street signs of Historic Garden Home that have been purchased in memory or in honor of friends or family was also displayed.

#5: Lamb’s Thriftway opened in 1957. Obituary for Forrest Lamb’s wife, Neva Lamb.

#4: History and photos of some of our early families: Gust Johnson, Ole Oleson, The Newton family, William Skyhar, Aaron Frank.

#3: 2011 and 2012: Resources for researching the history of your home. The Oleson family and their original home history was also displayed in addition to the Historic Designation of the home. (Compiling poster and photo of board with the Olesons.) (T/C)

#2: The Gertsch families and their early dairies were highlighted in our second History Board.

#1: 2010: Crescent Grove Cemetery was established in 1852 and is the oldest maintained cemetery in the Portland area. Many of the early pioneers in the Garden Home-Tigard area are buried there. We have provided several cemetery tours featuring our early residents and their histories.

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Partlow-Kickbush Home

This history was written by Louise Jones in response to queries regarding the large Colonial house with white pillars that faces south and is situated between 77th and 78th Avenue, the address being 7440 SW 78th. Opal Kickbush, the most recent owner, died in February of 2015. See also: Gabriel, Olive Stott.

History of family home on 77th-78th Avenues:

The house was owned by Dede’s great aunt Olive Stott Gabriel, who lived there in the 1930’s. For a time it was occupied by renters, who became squatters, who had to be removed. At her death, the house was willed to Dede’s father Jim Partlow, whose family moved in around 1945 and lived there until they moved to Klamath Falls in 1961. Jim was a coach at Lincoln High School and Athletic Director of Oregon Institute of Technology. The family consisted of Jim, Dede’s mom Yvonne, Dede, and her younger brother Jim. The parents Jim and Yvonne have died. Dede lives in Newberg and her brother Jim lives in Forest Grove.

The property was large, with the house, a freestanding garage, a caretaker’s cottage (known as the nuthouse – a playhouse for the kids and their friends), a barn, and large parcels of land, both north and south of the house, several blocks long along 77th and 78th. The grounds had a circle on the 77th side, park-like, with a circular drive. There were gardens with fruits, vegetables, and flowers, a filbert orchard, and a large picnic area on the 78th side, with evergreen trees.

Aunt Olive willed some of the land to Jim’s brother Bill Partlow. His family – wife Fama, children Linda, Susan, Chuck, and Laura – lived for a time in a small house across from the Poutala house, on Partlow land. Their new house was built on the corner of 78th and Garden Home Road, completed in the 50’s. Currently, Fama and Laura live in Newberg, Linda in Boring, Susan in Hawaii, and Chuck in Goldendale. Bill has died.

Jim and Yvonne had the big house remodeled soon after moving in. Center steps and porch were removed and a large porch was constructed across the entire front side, with side steps on each end. The sliding wooden doors between the parlor and the front room were also removed. Fritz Reinhardt was the contractor for the remodel.

The house itself is large and wonderful. There is a large entry hall, with stairs off to the left going to the second story. Another set of steps are accessed through a door in the hall, also reached through a door in the dining room – a sort of hidden staircase, up to the second floor and also to the basement.

The living room is large, a combination of the former parlor and living room, with fireplace and lovely windows. The dining room is next and then the kitchen – Dede says not the best room in the house, rather small. A door off the kitchen leads to steps down to the yard. The upstairs has a large semi-circular hall, with doors leading to a den, three bedrooms, and a bath. There is another bath in the large basement.

The house was purchased by John and Opal Kickbusch. John was a motorcycle officer with the Portland Police. (I remember seeing him several times in Rose Festival parades.) They had three children, William, Diane, and Carla; Carla was still at home when John and Opal lived in Garden Home. John died on March 24, 2004, Opal recently.

from phone conversations with Dede: Diann (Dede) Lynn Partlow Porcelli
March 2015
Louise Jones

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The Closing of Garden Home Elementary School

Balloon release on the closing day of Garden Home School

Garden Home Elementary may have been newer than McKay or Raleigh Hills elementary schools, and there is no doubt that it played a crucial role in making our cross-roads community a memorable part of eastern Washington County. It had a rural start, grew quickly to meet the commuter train-facilitated suburban demand for quiet living, and yet was a center of independent country living. As a single-school “district,” there were also quickly emerging advantages to joining the Beaverton School District. Who might have realized, at the time of that merger, that in about three generations, the school could also be very vulnerable to being closed? This story is about more than the closure of a neighborhood educational facility; it is also a statement about the resilience of the Garden Home community.

Development of Garden Home quickly led to demand for a school closer than either McKay or Raleigh Hills. The first school was located in the second story of a store owned by Chris Jager, he had opened in a former residence. The first dedicated school building opened in 1912 and the evolving structures kept pace with quickly changing needs.

closing Bill GellatlyDeclining enrollment – Politics of Predictions

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Beaverton’s new residential housing was rapidly growing on its western borders and the district’s reputation for quality was being “marketed” through association with new homes, desirable developments and new buildings. Having a quiet, friendly neighborhood with older roots wasn’t the hot image of the go-go 70’s, or the upscale destination of Oak Hills. A comfortable neighborhood has aging owners who enjoy their homes and generous lots, and over time houses on the eastern borders of the district had fewer students. With a slowing economy, many aging neighborhoods were not having the high turnover that normally kept schools filled. These are the fundamentals of declining enrollment and there is nothing unique to Garden Home in this regard. All districts face this dilemma.

As a design engineer working with high quality products built at Tektronix, I became adept at the use of statistics to assure first-time quality and sustainable production, and very early in my living in Garden Home, Joy Pierce, my predecessor on Local School Committee, encouraged my involvement in bringing business sense to community issues. As soon as the district formed a study committee, I was most interested in getting intimately familiar with the data processes used to make decisions about building utilization. My company had begun expansion throughout Beaverton and I was working in the new Wilsonville campus.

closing Farewell poster, last sch dayAssumptions about older school buildings

When the Beaverton School District was growing quickly, there was desire to keep buildings up to date and to replace older structures. This had some play in the concerns of the committee selected to study the declining enrollment, but with selection of decision criteria, this was technically relegated as having little or no value. McKay and Raleigh Hills were brick-faced structures and looked very formal and solid. Garden Home, built under its own state-sanctioned district, was an all wood structure like its original 1912 building. It was obvious that other schools in the study area looked more formidable. Committee members from McKay, Raleigh Hills and Raleigh Park were not going to give up their schools and have the older style Garden Home remain. The committee had very typical biases, and to work through and around them was challenging. It was ironic that Garden Home’s heating system was actually the most efficient building in the study area. Heat loss was lessened by having multiple stories, and it was obvious that Montclair had been built with lots of windows and with little concern for heating fuel costs, so it ranked poorly
As an engineer with a side hobby of residential design, I enjoyed doing some analysis of the gains that could be made with improved windows and insulation, and after doing a cursory study, I found that the energy efficiency rankings of the considered schools changed rather dramatically. That created a bit of consternation on the part of committee members representing the newer schools. The popular assumption was that newer schools were more efficient, but room layout was a large factor. Montclair elementary was about to get a lot of unpopular scrutiny.

closing last sch day, big badge 1911-1982Single classrooms and open-classroom areas

The outlier in the study area was Montclair. It was built at a time when open-classroom areas were enjoying a brief national popularity. Beaverton, like many districts tried to follow the trends and to demonstrate leadership by being in the middle of innovation. Their facilities could also take advantage of commercially available school construction plans. It looked like smart cost avoidance if architectural services merely adapted a stock plan to a given site. Montclair’s floor plan had detractors and fans, and discussions about the plan were very heated. Several Garden Home parents felt the open style was distracting and faced with transfers into Montclair, they feared the prospects of requesting transfers to adjacent schools.

closing last day cakeCommunity Involvement versus Administrative Decision-making Processes

When a controversial topic faces a public organization like schools, the image-conscious administration likes to keep challenging emotionally-charged issues at bay. Voter memory is good when budgets and building bond measures hit the ballot, so it was no surprise that the local school committees in the study area were asked to sit on a panel convened for an “open process.” The committee can take the heat and publicly wrestle with the many emotional factors that come into play.

Decision Criteria – Were we leading or following the District’s decisions?

When Local School Committees in the five-school study area were first seated, fellow GardenHome members Sue Miner and Charlene Land and I listened to the presentations, looked around to assess the representative of the other four schools, and felt, just like the others, that there was a sense we might just be putting lip service to a slam-dunk, pre-planned district decision. I had to acknowledge that I was probably the least politically savvy guy in the room. After all, when faced with the guillotine, the engineer in me wanted to make sure the blade was well lubricated so it could be fast, painless and that whoever’s school was closed could regroup and move on.

Camps had been forming before I had even moved into the neighborhood, and our peaceful little Mayberry RFD was already under serious threat by well-meaning parents representing the neighboring schools. In reality, Montclair had members who felt their open-classroom style was under attack. McKay, bordering on Vose district was feeling that their location on heavily traveled Scholls Ferry Road, and more modest neighborhoods were pair their pair of Achilles heels. Raleigh Hills was the school with “senior statesman” status. Even though it was equally faced with heavy traffic and safety on Scholls Ferry, the sight lines were less vulnerable to pedestrians and busses than McKay. Raleigh Park was its own neighborhood, had upscale homes, professionals as parents and was in the enviable position of being more of a smug group of “safe observers.”

The almost instantaneous reaction in Garden Home to the formation of the Study Committee was the formation of a citizen’s action group calling themselves Garden Home Community Action Association, Inc. (a non-profit organization could rightfully raise money for the defense of their cause). Local insurance businessman Ken Evanson was president, and Tom Walt, a public safety engineer for PGE was named vice-president. Local long-time school district observer and attorney Henry Kane was drawn to the cause, and had a plan to seek internal information from the District. All it took was for a couple of firebrands to raise the sense of self-defense. Great! “We’ve got a cause, we’ve got the energy, and by golly we’re not going to take this laying down” was a very natural reaction from entrenched fans of the Garden Home community.

An early fact presented by the District was that there were only 1,336 students attending five schools with the capacity for 2,016. It was obvious that fiscal responsibility on the part of the District called for action, and it was equally obvious that each affected school would mount its own effort to defend its turf, traditions and to assert their “community rights.”

Finding Reason in the midst of Emotion

The task force selected by the district was composed mostly of Local School Committee members and Garden Home was represented by Sue Miner and Charlene and me. We had several months of work to achieve, and the task was facilitated by Thelma Reuppell, herself a school administrator in the Hillsboro district. We requested many documents and presentations from budget committee members, finance, facilities and a range of other Beaverton district staff. It took lots of dedicated work to study the reports and information, but eventually, criteria were developed to compare each of the facilities, and to carefully consider the impact on neighborhoods if any of the schools were closed. The facts were not initially clear, and the emotions ran strong throughout the process. Enrollment projection accuracy was questioned, and a short reprieve was granted, but the committee was called back in just a year. The final recommendation went against Garden Home.

At the End – A Silver Lining

As soon as the conclusion of the task force was ratified by the School Board, discussions began in earnest with Tualatin Park and Recreation District and within a year, the buildings deemed too inefficient for use as a school were being remodeled to create a new Recreation Center. Today, the building is more active than ever, and provides a wide range of classes and community space.

About the author. Bill Gellatly grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s attending the small elementary school there, a year at Multnomah elementary, a year at Benson Polytechnic, and the balance at Wilson High. He had several paper routes, and grew an interest in local history by visiting with customers. In those kid-friendly days, you could just tell your mom or dad that you wanted to go play and then be gone for hours at a time exploring ponds, watching construction or hanging out with a buddy when it was raining. With a career as a designer and then engineer for Tektronix, Bill saw the importance of friendly neighborhoods as an environment to raise his family, and moved into the Vista Brook neighborhood in 1976. He knew the Garden Home area after riding his bicycle to the home piano teacher Maude Steen in the late 1950’s.

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