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Bricks, people contiune to leave mark in Tualatin

The Tualatin Historical Society wants to see more names set in stone
by: Jennifer Clampet, SET IN STONE — (From left) Tualatin Chamber of Commerce President Cheryl Dorman, longtime Tualatin resident Peggy Gensman and Tualatin Historical Society member Christine Tunstall stand outside the Tualatin Heritage Center, where a brick pathway will be constructed later this year.

TUALATIN - For more than 100 years, bricks have helped build the path of history in Tualatin. Now historical society members want to help people etch their historical connections to the small town on a foundation of bricks.

'Some people in Tualatin have streets and tombstones with their families' names on them,' said Tualatin Historical Society member Christine Tunstall, whose family - the Nybergs - has a street and now a shopping development bearing the family name.

'But some people have just come and gone and not left their names, although they're still a part of Tualatin.'

In just a few months, the Tualatin Heritage Center has secured $35,000 in brick-engraving orders from Tualatin community members. The bricks will be part of an outdoor garden and patio project for the center.

The brick-engraving project is also a two-fold fund-raiser for the center. The money raised will help to complete the outdoor patio project, and the sentiments and names gathered and etched in stone will help to preserve the names of people who have a connection to the city.

Peggy Gensman was one of the first people to place an order for the brick-engraving project.

'He's out there in freezing weather, and no one ever recognizes him,' Gensman said of David Skogland, a city employee who works outside maintaining the city-owned property.

Gensman, who founded the first realty firm in Tualatin and is the wife of a former mayor, said she wants to see Skogland's name preserved in stone with the sentiment, 'Keeping Tualatin Beautiful.'

From a brickyard created in 1907 to an old brick store that creaked and groaned but didn't fall when crews moved it aside for a road-widening project more than a year ago, bricks have a small but important role in the history of Tualatin, said heritage center Director Larry McClure.

Had the old Robinson building on Southwest Boones Ferry Road succumbed to gravity in 2006, developer David Emami would have been left with an open lot, and the Tualatin Historical Society would have received a large pile of crumbling bricks. (The agreement to donate the bricks to the society should the building not survive the move was included in the deal Emami signed with the city of Tualatin in the purchase of the old building.)

The society likely would have used the bricks in the heritage center's outdoor project, McClure said. The red-clay bricks would have made for interesting planters.

But happy to see the brick building still standing, historical society members opted for another way to include history in the outdoor project.

Cheryl Dorman, president of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, represented the first business, West Coast Bank, to order a brick for the project.

Dorman said the company's participation in the project was just another installment in the bank's dedication to the preservation of the heritage center.

The brick-engraving project is the second phase of the heritage center. The center, a former church, was moved to its current site about two years ago. The historical society fought to preserve the old building. And through community donations, in-kind help and a partnership with the city of Tualatin, the building was moved and renovated into a community center at 8700 S.W. Sweek Drive, next door to the Tualatin Police Department.

The message that historical society members want to covey with the bricks is simply that the sentiments engraved in stones could honor people. The center still has hundreds of bricks to sell, but project coordinators will not be waiting for all the bricks to be sold before starting the outdoor project. The center is waiting for city approval sometime in February, and organizers hope to have the project completed and ready for dedication by the second Saturday in August to coincide with the city's crawfish festival. Brick order forms can be picked up at the Tualatin Heritage Center, 8700 S.W. Sweek Drive.

Some families have bought multiple bricks with the idea of having family members' names branched out like a family tree on the brick path.

But some community members will be using the project to leave their own marks on Tualatin.

A member of the Saarinen family has requested a brick to be engraved with the family name and the phrase, 'No longer a brick shy of a load.'