Historic 150-year-old farmstead has gala for dedication

A tree is more than a tree in Oregon.

That was shown with the dedication of the Shipley-Cook Heritage Grove last Friday in Stevens Meadows. Sponsors were the Oregon Travel Experience and the Oregon Heritage Tree CLIFF NEWELL - Lindsey Kasehagen reads the plaque recognizing the Shipley-Cook Heritage Grove at the Friday celebration in Lake Oswego.

It was a windy day but otherwise bright, sunny and temperate as many interested people showed up for the celebration.

Rick Cook, who served as master of ceremonies, was the man who made it all possible. The great grandson of James Preston Cook, Rick Cook has made it his mission to preserve the farmstead for all Oregonians.

The occasion drew all kinds of distinguished guests, including three Lake Oswego city councilors, representatives of the Oregon Heritage Tree Program and members of the Lake Oswego Historical Resources Advisory Board. HRAB member Jeannie McGuire struggled successfully to prevent the black cloth over the new plaque from blowing away until a proper, dignified unveiling could be performed.

The event’s special speaker was Molly McKnight, a member of Oregon’s heritage tree committee, who was instrumental in the Shipley-Cook Heritage Grove nomination and authored a detailed report on the historical significance of the grove’s owners and their rightful place in Oregon history.

“The Cook family has been stewards of this land for 150 years,” McKnight said. “I used to drive by this place and see the old house and old barn and wonder about their history.”

Thanks to Cook and McKnight, many future generations will be able to appreciate the history of the farmstead, which goes back to 1862, when Adam Shipley hired a young farmer named James Preston Cook, who later purchased the 131-acre farm. The farm contains a remarkable variety of trees, and Tim Pickett of the Oregon Travel Experience nearly ran out of breath naming them all. From the placement of the plaque, visitors could see a valley of trees, a most welcome sight in these dry times for the United States.

“Oregon was the first state to have a heritage tree program,” said Annie von Domitz, administrator of the Oregon Heritage Tree Program. “Trees obviously have a strong connection to Oregon history.”

Several descendants of the Shipley and Cook families were on hand for the occasion and took much joy in the proceedings.

“This farm was so important to me growing up,” said Lindsey Kasehagen, the daughter of Steve Cook, Rick’s older brother.

Kasehagen brought along the sixth generation of the Cook family to enjoy the event: her 9-month-old daughter Zawellyn, also known as Baby Z. She seemed to understand the importance of the day because she gave the new plaque a nice hug.

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