by Norm Parker
In early June 2003 Pastor Don Hesterley of the Tualatin Church of Christ telephoned Loyce Martinazzi to see if we would have interest in taking possession of the Old Methodist church. Their church was disbanding as they could no longer afford to operate and maintain the building. Historically this 1926 building was very significant and had connections with many Tualatin residents and everyone agreed it needed to be saved.
In March 1989 The Church of Christ had bought the Old Methodist Church from Clark Lumber Company and signed a lease agreement for the land. The building sale was for $24,500 and the land lease was for $500 per month. On June 13, 2003 the THS board meet with Pastor Hesterley at the old church to discuss the possibility of the society taking possession of the building which needed major work. The THS board knew it would be necessary to move the building as the city had plans to widen Boones Ferry Road in the near future. After talking to Mr. Jerry Clark of Clark Auto Parts to determine if he would continue to lease us the land he agreed and we decided to take a leap of faith and agreed to recommend to membership that we take ownership of the building from the church at no cost to us but with major future expenses in restoring and moving the structure. At our annual meeting in November 2003 we presented the proposal to the general membership of the board. With only one exception the members voted to accept the plan.
Previously In the early nineties the Historical Society had attempted to save the historic Hedges House by taking it apart piece by piece and storing it in one of the Koch barns The society had raised about $30,000 in this preservation effort and had a tentative agreement with the City of Tualatin to rebuild that structure on city property on Sweet St. This effort had been put on hold for a number of years due to lack of funding. At the November general meeting we agreed to use these $30,000 Hedges House reserve funds as part of our campaign to preserve the church building and move it to a new location. During the remainder of 2003 we maintained the building, inside and out by mowing and watering the lawn, fixing the furnace, cleaning and painting etc. We continued the monthly lease payments to Clark Lumber until the spring of 2004 when David Emami bought the property from Clark Lumber. We contacted Mr. Emami regarding his intentions and he informed us that he would not be building on the property in the near future and he would continue leasing the land to the Historical Society for $400 per month and a lease to that effect was signed on April 27, 2004.
Meanwhile in the winter of 2003 we were contacted by Monte McCutcheon, pastor of the Abundant Life Family Church to ask if their church could rent the building. We agreed to rent to them for $400 per month starting January 1st2004 until such time as we would move the building.
We had many contacts with the city mayor, city council, and Paul Hennon, the city’s community services director throughout 2004 regarding moving the building onto city property. Initially they were very cool to the idea unless we had the money to move and upgrade the building. During this time we had established the Heritage Committee of members of the board and other society members and meet frequently to develop our plan of action which primarily focused on fund raising.
Our efforts were coming along well and the city council finally agreeing to support our plan of allowing us to move to the city property if we would give the building to the city and manage it for community use. We agreed with the stipulation that the building would be the home of the historical society and that we would have priority use of the building. We signed the bill of sale and deeded the building to the city on June 30th 2005. We continued our fund raising efforts until we had approximately $180,000 in cash and in kind commitments. The city could now see we were very serious of preserving the building and the city found some urban renewal and park money to fund the balance of the funds needed.
During this time we solicited bids for the moving and the restoration of the building necessary to meet current standards. We contacted Don Silvey, a building contractor whose family had historic connections to Tualatin to see if he would be interested in taking on the project as general contractor. He had previously accomplished a number of projects in the city and had a good reputation with city staff. He agreed to take on the project. Starting in mid 2005 a team of four Historical Society officers, Mr. Silvey and Paul Hennon began meeting weekly to discuss fundraising efforts and details of the move and restoration. During this time we selected Northwest Movers as our building mover.
Finally at 5am on Sunday August 2005 with all details in place the building was moved from its original location across Boones Ferry and the railroad tracks to the west, across a parking lot to Tualatin -Sherwood Rd and west to 90th then down 90th to Sweet Drive to its new home at 8700 SW Sweet Drive. The actual mile move was completed by noon. Through the remainder of 2005 the building was renovated by Silvey Construction with many hours of volunteer help from society members and community contributions by several businesses and organizations who donated their time and materials to the project
By the spring of 2006 the building was completed and on February 11, 2006 two hundred thirty five society members, city leaders, and the general public attended the Grand opening. The rest is history which, after all, is what we are about.