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Brittle Robinson building is eased aside

Historians say the red brick landmark was built in 1912
by: Jaime Valdez, An employee of Northwest Structural Moving Company helps move the the old brick Robinson building in Tualatin Sunday morning.

TUALATIN - For local resident and historian Lloyce Martinazzi, watching the old Robinson building being moved into place Sunday had more significance than just saving an old building. To her, it was like watching history repeat itself.

Her memories of the city of Tualatin are one of the greatest assets to the local historical society. She and co-author Karen Lafky Nygaard penned a book about the history of the city.

Martinazzi was among the small crowd of neighbors who gathered Sunday to watch as Northwest Structural Moving successfully relocated the old red brick building from the corner of Boones Ferry and Tualatin roads.

And as Martinazzi watched the building being moved into place 50 feet away, it dawned on her - 'This exact same thing happened about 95 years ago.'

Tualatin Historical Society member Larry McClure said he held his breath as crews worked to move 'the very brittle building.'

'But they did it, and we're glad,' he said.

Built in 1912, the brick building represents more than a piece of Tualatin's history. It represents an era when the city began to move forward from wood-framed buildings to brick and mortar structures.

And, like today, in order to make room for progress, something had to be moved in order for it to be built.

The brick store took the place of the original Robinson Store, a wood-framed building that was relocated then just to the east on Boones Ferry Road.

Sunday the brick building was being moved to make way for a street improvement project on Boones Ferry Road. The city had considered demolishing the structure, but the local residents' praise of the building's histori-cal significance stifled that idea.

In March, the city sold the building and the corner property to David Emami who will be re-opening its first floor as a restaurant.

'Somebody had some big visions for that building,' Emami noted. 'Hopefully we can make it live up to that.'

Emami plans to restore the building to its original stature. He laughs when he talks about the community's reaction to his offer to move the building.

'Lots of hugs and kisses from people. I've never done anything where that happened before,' Emami said, adding that the decision to save the building was more sentimental than financial.

'I always loved the building,' he said.

Had the building not survived the move, the historical society would have laid claim to the bricks. The hardened-clay blocks have historical significance, as they are remnants of the city's old brickyard.

And the bricks carry even more history than just their origin. Recently, Martinazzi and Nygaard took a walk near the building and something caught their eyes. Names and dates, some from as far back as 1919, were etched into the building's brick walls.

Martinazzi said the bricks had always been looked at as important to keep in Tualatin since they were made in the city, but the writing on the walls seemed to show something else, Martinazzi said.

'The building's kind of like a touchstone for Tualatin.'