Tualatin Historical Society recognizes local landmarks

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Sweek House was built in 1858 by pioneer couple John and Maria Sweek, and expanded to an unusually large, 10-room house.To mark Tualatin’s official Centennial anniversary on Aug. 18, the Historical Society recognized 13 of the city’s oldest residences: Buildings that have stood the test of time, and which have in a sense borne witness to most, if not all, of the past century in Tualatin.

The effort to place historical markers will “ensure that the significance of remaining landmarks is not forgotten,” Art Sasaki, Tualatin Historical Society president, said. “We hope this is the beginning of a long-term effort to identify other significant legacies of bygone eras.”

Not all buildings are clearly marked as historical signifiers, however. For example, the Richardson House at 20195 S.W. Boones Ferry Road was “an empty rental” property when project team members Larry McClure and Jan Guinta placed the sign, McClure said.

The sign committee also included Kurt Krause, Chris Tunstall and Karen Riley.

The signage is a simple, tasteful neutral color, bearing the name of the society, the name of the building, the year it was built — and designating it a historic site.

More than 30 properties were initially considered for inclusion in the project. Three homeowners declined to participate, and sites of historic structures where the structures no longer remained standing were not ultimately given plaques.

The Nyberg home that was destroyed in a 2008 fire was not marked.

According to the Historical Society’s presentation to the City Council, each plaque cost $75. The signs were designed by Tualatin-born graphic artist Kelly Tunstall, who created designs for a similar historic preservation project in Sellwood.

The project was funded largely by Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, which initially showed interest because one of the historic homes identified was located on as-yet undeveloped hospital property. That house was deemed to dilapidated to be designated a historic property, so Legacy Meridian opted to donate $1,500 to the project.

Luster House: It struck some as strange when 19-year-old pioneer and bachelor James Luster erected a large house — the very year he fell ill and died. He left the home to his friends and neighbors, the Sebastian family.

Sweek House: Viewed at the time as a “dream house,” perhaps “dream addition” is more apt. Maria Sweek oversaw the renovation of the already stately two-story house she had built with her husband, John. The elaborate effect may have been grandiose for the area, but it was also the result of Maria’s entrepeneurship: during construction, she made her home an inn and events center of sorts.

The Byrom House still stands largely because of an update in the 1940s.

Zeke Eddy House: The opening of the Saum Mill in 1879 enabled homesteaders to move away from the more rustic cabin approach, making houses like Zeke Eddy’s possible. Built near what was then the village center, the quasi-Italian style of Eddy’s home was ornate for its time. The home has since had a second story added and was later moved to its current location on Avery Street.

Avery Chicken Hatchery: George Avery wanted to build a better hatchery, and he managed to start his career early, in the potato cellar of his parents’ barn. When he built his home on what became his family’s namesake street, he grew his hobby into an operation that would produce and ship about 6,000 chicks weekly. He bred White Leghorn chickens exclusively, and the Avery family’s method was studied by Oregon State college students. Avery himself was viewed as a critical food producer in the region, which prevented him from successfully registering for the draft when World War II broke out.

Winona Grange: Named in honor of the late, young daughter of local farmer J.R.C. Thompson, the Grange began life as an agricultural society, with a hall that was a popular event space for weddings and dances. The Grange quickly acquired a reed organ and orchestra of its own.

Local historian and lifelong Tualatin resident Loyce Martinazzi recalls the Grange as a popular place for youth activities when she was a girl. In the years since, the Grange had lost its luster, and might have fallen into total disrepair were it not for Martinazzi’s efforts.

“The Grange nearly died out about 12 years ago, due to the old age of most members,” Martinazzi explained. “When I was a teenager, the Grange had a fantastic youth group. So when the membership was dying out, I was told our Grange was dying. ‘Over my dead body,’ I thought.”

A walk through history

Luster House (1857)

9030 S.W. Sagert St.

Sweek House (1858)

18815 S.W. Boones Ferry Road

Byrom House (1878)

9385 S.W. Arikara Drive

Francis House (1885)

8430 S.W. Avery St.

Wesch House (1890)

18400 S.W. 86th Ave.

Zeke Eddy House (1890)

9005 S.W. Avery St.

Smith/Boone House (1895)

18815 S.W. Boones Ferry Road

Richardson House (1910)

20195 S.W. Boones Ferry Road

Robinson Store (1912)

18810 S.W. Boones Ferry Road

Elmer House (1914)

11450 S.W. Elmer Court

Methodist Church (1926)

8700 S.W. Sweek Drive

Avery Chicken Hatchery (1939)

8385 S.W. Avery St.

Winona Grange #271 (1940)

8340 S.W. Seneca St.

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