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From stagecoaches to skunks, homes full of surprises

Proceeds from Sunday tour will help fund Smith home restoration


Have you ever been to Painter’s Woods or the Walker-Naylor district? If you live in Forest Grove, you probably visit those places all the time and don’t even know it.

They are a couple of neighborhoods that are part of the Friends of Historic Forest Grove Tour of Historic Homes. The tour, set for Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., showcases seven historic homes, with a bonus home built by Alvin T. Smith in 1854.

Smith is credited as the first settler in Forest Grove. His home is under restoration by the Friends of Historic Forest Grove (FHFG). Proceeds from the historic homes tour will help fund the project.

“The inside is pretty rough,” said Linda Lee Lewis, FHFG board member and tour committee chairwoman. “There is still some of the original wallpaper. There are pieces of newspaper that were used for wallpaper that are dated 1854.”

The outside is rough, too, but is starting to shape up. As part of ongoing preservation, the Smith house at the south end of Elm Street has had its foundation secured, windows replaced and roof repaired.

In order to heighten the tour’s intrigue and respect the homeowners involved, Lewis did not want to divulge the locations of other tour homes until the day of the event. But she was happy to give out some tantalizing teasers.

One home is known as the Old Stage Coach Stop. It was built by Stephen and Parthena Blank, natives of New York whose new home became a regular stop for stagecoaches. The house was certified by the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Another tour home has a story behind it that is more for the olfactory than the eyes. During renovation in 2008, a family of skunks was found living under the foundation — 27 critters in all. They were relocated before workers began refurbishing the house, Lewis said.

The Bailey House is also on this year’s tour. Currently, for sale, the Bailey House was built between 1892 and 1893 by John E. Bailey. A prominent figure in Forest Grove history, Bailey was the Southern Pacific Railroad agent in town, a bank vice president and started a general store on Main Street where Van Dyke Appliances now stands.

Lewis said tour participants will see firsthand the pride that goes into restoring historic homes. She notes one homeowner has modernized her house, but followed the “trend of how it used to be,” preserving the history of the interior woodwork.

“It’s a journey in time that explores treasures from the past,” Lewis said, quoting the tour motto.

The tour begins at the Old Train Station, FHFG headquarters, at 1936 19th Ave. Participants will receive an interpretive booklet and tour map.

Newcomers will learn about the area’s rich heritage, as Lewis did when she joined the FHFG.

“The historic homes really intrigued my interest in history,” she said, “and the history of this town.”



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