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History tour set for Sunday in downtown

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sean Garvey flips through a scrapbook of Tigards history on Main Street, on Monday morning. Garvey is hosting two community walks through downtown this Sunday.A group of locals are planning to go back in time this weekend, and they won’t need a time machine to do it.

Sean Garvey, a librarian in charge of the Tigard Public Library’s Local History Room, is offering two walking tours through downtown Tigard on Sunday, taking visitors on a trip across the decades to the city’s earliest days.

“It’s an interesting way to get people out and moving, and also learning a little bit about the town they live in,” Garvey said.

The tours will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday; a second set of walking tours is slated for Aug. 16.

Meeting at the Tigard Area Farmers Market, walkers will travel down Burnham Street to Main Street, chronicling the many ways that the small stretch of road has helped shape Tigard’s history.

In the early days of Tigard, the downtown area was little more than a swamp, but Garvey said that early settlers made changes to the area that helped lead to what we see today.

“There was nothing in downtown, except for Mr. Burnham’s house on the corner,” Garvey said. “Then in 1907, the Oregon Electric Railroad came through.”

Tigard’s earliest settlers first concentrated closer to what is now Southwest Gaarde Street, Garvey said, but when the railroad came through, the community began to shift toward the railroad tracks as the center of town.

“The thing about Tigard is that it is so spread out,” Garvey said. “So a lot of the history that you find is concentrated right here in downtown.”

Garvey said that walking history tours offer a view of the city that many people don’t experience.

“You’re walking through history,” Garvey said. “By doing walking tours, the history is more significant because you are standing right there. You can see it and touch it. Hopefully, that will resonate with people.”

Learning about the downtown was a labor of love, Garvey said, using resources from the Tigard Public Library’s Local History Room and the Tigard Historical Association to learn about the area.

Martha Worley, president of the Tigard Historical Association, said that the association hasn’t done tours like Garvey’s before, but said they are a great way to keep the town’s history alive.

“It’s a way to show people what was, and what is now,” she said. “Back then, this was the hub of the community. You didn’t have to go anywhere — this was their city.”

Tigard historian Barbara Peterson, who wrote a book about Tigard’s early history, said the tours offer a way to keep children interested in what’s going on around them

“We can preserve the memories for the children,” she said. “We are saving these stories, and at the same time, we want to attract people down to Main Street. Sean’s activities will certainly do that.”

Garvey said that if the walks are well received, he’d like to expand them to include other areas of town.

“I’d like to do more,” he said. “Absolutely.”

Garvey’s walks begin at the Tigard Area Farmers Market, 8777 S.W. Burnham St., and last about an hour.