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Street stamp gets special treatment


Local historian saves a piece of the past

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KATHLEEN ROHDE - Street names used to be stamped into the concrete surface of curbs. David Morelli helped preserve this historical remnant. On a rainy March weekend, David Morelli set up shop at the corner of 18th and Birch with shovels, picks, rope, hand truck, pry bars and concrete blocks.

The goal: resetting two heavy, historic, concrete street markers.

Forest Grove renamed its streets, once in 1893 and again in 1949, ??DOUBLECHEKINGand didn’t have actual street signs at intersections until 1950. Before that, the street names were stamped into the curbs.

When Morelli saw that two such markers were about to be removed (to install handicap-access ramps), he called his wife, Mary Jo, who is also president of Friends of Historic Forest Grove. Mary Jo, who found city officials eager to preserve a part of the city's history, arranged for the project's contractor to cut out the curb sections with the street names and turn them over to her.

Morelli, an Information Services employee at Pacific University, was expecting a difficult task, but he got a lot of help. Neghbor Ian Dehner, then a senior at Forest Grove High School, and Jim Hilsenkopf, a resident who happened to pass by the project, both leant a hand.

“People went out of their way to accomplish this,” said Morelli, who is passionate about Forest Grove and believes it’s important for people to know their history.

“In part we’re all trees. We grow from our roots,” he said. “No matter how far we get away, that’s still where we came from.”