Westgard Avenue - A Short History Of SW 87th Avenue
A SHORT HISTORY OF SW 87TH AVENUE
FROM GARDEN HOME ROAD TO SW ALDEN STREET
(aka WESTGARD AVENUE)
Compiled by Anne Hanford Olson
With special contributors Dan Nebert, Carol Sturtevant Pratt and Nancy Sturtevant Dachtler
Revised March 2014
The Atfalatis Hunt and Gather Here
For 10,000 years, native people called Atfalatis, a band of the Kalapuya, inhabited our area. The Atfalatis were a semi-nomadic band. In the winter, they lived in permanent villages near Forest Grove. From late spring into fall, they spread out across theTualatin Plains to gather roots and berries, hunt, and fish.
One of the summer campsites of the Atfalatis was very near us, at the intersection of SW Hall Blvd. and Fanno Creek. Some of the Atfalatis must surely have walked up the hill from Fanno Creek where it passes through the Vista Brook neighborhood to hunt and gather in the area of our street.
A House is Built on Our Street
Following the Donation Land Claim act of 1850, settlers began to homestead our area.
Over the next decades, a small village grew up in Garden Home. By 1900, there was a general store and a post office at the intersection of Garden Home and Oleson Roads. See Garden Home Post Office.
In 1900, well before any of the other current homes on our street were built, a house was built at 7625 SW 87th. Although it is now covered with siding, the house is constructed of logs. The current owner reports that logs are visible in the laundry area.
The Oregon Electric Railway Brings More Residents
In the fall of 1907, construction of the Oregon Electric Railway from Portland southward to Salem was completed. The train travelled out what is now Multnomah Blvd. and stopped in Garden Home on a trestle near where the Old Market Pub is now located. Soon after, a branch was added to the line extending westward from the Garden Home Station to Forest Grove. The Electric Railway section of the Fanno Creek Trail mostly follows the right-of-way of this branch.
After the advent of the Oregon Electric, Garden Home was discovered. Commuters could travel to Portland for work and still have a semi-rural life with lots of room for some farm animals and a garden.
In 1927, Walt and Marie Nebert and Walt’s parents moved onto a large property on the southwest corner of SW 87th and SW Dolph. Soon, the Nebert men cut trees, blasted stumps with dynamite, and cleared the forest on the property. The original two Nebert homes, no longer in existence, were built on what is now the 8750 SW Dolph property.
Four of the small, older cottages on the west side of our street were also built during the era of the Oregon Electric: 7765 SW 87th in 1920; 7795 SW 87th in 1925; and both 7575 SW 87th and 7735 SW 87th in 1930 (the latter house has been greatly enlarged and rebuilt.) During this era, our street was just a dirt road.
Eight Families Call Westgard Avenue Home
By the mid-1940’s, our street was a gravel road which ended at the top of the hill. It was called Westgard Avenue.
Hay fields abutted the east side of the road from Garden Home Road to about SW Garden Lane. The fields were owned by Ralph Hamilton who lived in the log house built in 1930 at 8550 SW Garden Home Road. Mr. Hamilton cut and baled the hay. The rest of the east side of the street was forest.
There were eight homes on the west side of the road, each on a very deep lot. The mailboxes were lined up on a rail at the foot of the road.
The homes included:
7575 SW 87th: Henry “Hank” and Carol Sturtevant with children Bob, Nancy, and Carol Jean lived in the first house which was built in 1930. The property was about 3/4 acre and included a garage, shop, and chicken coop. For a while, Mr. Sturtevant had a nursery on the property known as Flora-Dell Nursery. See Henry Sturtevant Family.
7625 SW 87th: Herb and Thora Heltzel lived in the 1900 log cabin. After Thora died, Herb Heltzel remarried and lived in a mobile home with his new wife Aileen. He rented out the log home and another little house on the property. There is currently a manufactured home on the part of the property where Herb and Aileen lived.
7733 SW 87th: Dr. Buddin, a chiropractor or osteopath, and his wife lived in the next house which was built in 1940. It was fronted by a large laurel hedge which is still there. This house was later the home of the Bome family for many years.
7735 SW 87th: The Holman’s with son Roger lived in the next house which was built in 1930. It was originally a small cottage but was greatly enlarged and rebuilt in 2008.
7765 SW 87th: Bill and Mary (Steele) Godwin with children Jim, Jack, and Jean lived in the next house (built in 1920).
7795 SW 87th: Orville and Olive "Ollie" Farris lived in the last of the close-together houses. This house was built in 1925.
Farris Woods, at least as it was known by the neighborhood children, filled the space from the Farris house up to Dolph Lane, now SW Dolph Street, which was just a dirt path. There was a shack with no indoor plumbing back in the woods. A family who were refugees from the Vanport flood of 1948 lived there for a couple of years.
7965 SW 87th: Walt and Marie Nebert and their children Rosella, Dan, Dave, and Tom lived in the house Walt built in 1940 on his property at SW 87th and SW Dolph. There was a fenced pasture which ran along the upper (south) edge of the Nebert property. Rosella had a horse named Tiny which was stabled in the barn just up the hill from the house. She rode her horse in several local girls’ pony races, but Tiny never won a race.
8085 SW 87th: Jonathan and Charity Steele and children Donald, Jack, Joyce, June, Bruce, Wanda, and Crystal lived at the top of the hill and the end of the road in the house Mr. Steele built in 1939. Jonathan Steele and Mary Steele Godwin were brother and sister.
Mr. Steele later "opened up" Westgard Avenue by clearing the road going south to connect it with SW Alden. He and his sons also cut down a huge tree in the middle of SW Alden near SW Oleson Road and dynamited the stump, connecting Alden with Oleson Road. The path off SW 87th near the Steele home, a dedicated street right-of-way, leads to a short street named SW Crystal after the youngest Steele daughter. See Jack Steele.
Food Is Local
In the mid-1940's, almost everyone on our street had a mini-farm, if only to feed themselves and their children.
The Sturtevants had chickens for eggs and meat and also rabbits. Every Sunday, they had either a chicken or a rabbit for dinner. They bought a weanling calf and kept it in the field up the road to fatten. They had a freezer as soon as they could get one.
The Neberts had a goat and a cow and raised rabbits. The Steele's had two cows and about a dozen chickens.
Gardens were the norm. The Sturtevant garden was quite large, about 1/3 of their 3/4 acre lot. They had several fruit trees as well as berry bushes and vines. Every summer the children helped put up the harvest.
Mr. Nebert had a large garden with lots of corn and potatoes. He sold or gave away the produce the family didn't use. The house still has a pantry for “put up” produce in the part of the basement which is under the front porch. Remnants of the Nebert's orchard of mixed fruit trees persisted until the 2000's.
There was milk delivery and later a bread truck, but the nearest grocery was a little one at the intersection of Garden Home and Oleson Roads. That was rather a long hike to get groceries, so people tried to be as self-sufficient as possible.
The next nearest stores were in Multnomah and Raleigh Hills, and there was no quick, straight way to either. Also, many families, the Sturtevants included, had only one car. After a while, Mrs. Sturtevant took to driving Mr. Sturtevant to work once a week so that she could have the car for the day.
Kids Enjoy Fanno Creek, the Woods, and Assorted Animals
The children who lived on Westgard Avenue in the 1940’s had a wonderful time playing in the woods and fields surrounding our street.
One day, Dan and Dave Nebert and Roger Holman were feeling daring and mischievous. They pretended they were commandos, crawled under the Heltzel’s garage door, “captured” a jar of pickles, and then crawled into the trees behind to eat their treasure.
The Nebert boys liked to walk down to muddy, smelly Fanno “Crick.” One day they spotted a large bullfrog with only one eye. They took to looking for the frog when they went down to the creek.
Once, when Nancy was with them, Dave snuck up on the frog’s blind side and captured it. They took the frog home and put it in a dish of water in the back yard and fed it flies for dinner. The next day they took the frog back to the creek and released it. They captured and released the frog many more times.
The woods on the Kosmalski farm, now the Red Tail Golf Course, extended from the west side of the Godwin's cow pasture all the way to Progress. The Nebert boys used to shoot their .22 rifles at trees and targets in the woods but never at animals.
The Neberts had a dog named King who was quite smart. He could remember where the boys left a stick a mile or so back in the woods. When he was given the command a day or two later, he would retrieve the stick.
Many days, the children hung out at the "Elderberry Tree" in the woods near the edge of the Nebert property. They climbed up in the tree and pretended it was a pirate’s ship. Another day they pretended they were monkeys. And yet another time the tree was a spaceship.
The children often went to the Godwin pasture to visit Jack Godwin's burro whose name was Babe. There was also a salt lick in the pasture, and the children would break off chips of salt and eat them. The fence around the pasture had one wire that was electric. The children would grab onto this, get shocked, and laugh and scream at each other at such fun
For a very short time, Jack Godwin also had a pet raccoon which he caught and kept in a cage. The raccoon was a bit of a menace so Jack soon thought better of it and set him free. Jack also had a de-scented pet skunk.
Young Families Fill New Homes
In the post-war era of the 1950’s and 60’s, Garden Home began to change from a semirural area to a suburban area. Named developments were built near our street.
The first was Rose Garden Village complete with Rambler and Brier Lanes, built about 1948-50 in the curve of Garden Home Road. Later developments included Whitford Park, west of the curve in Garden Home Road and Vista Brook known for its midcentury Rummer homes, just north of Garden Home Road.
Right here in our neighborhood, Raleigh Green along SW 89th and SW Carmel Court replaced part of Kosmalski's Woods. A few of the ancient cedars and firs remain.
The large, rural properties on our street were perfect for subdividing as well. In the early 1950's, Ralph Hamilton sold off his hay fields which by then included a filbert orchard, and the first houses were built on the east side of our street.
Robert and Anne Herzog purchased the large section north of SW Holly Lane. They cleared the large corner property and built their house at 8600 SW Garden Home Road in 1951. Mr. Herzog went on to form the Herzog-Meier auto dealership.
The section of the old filbert farm from SW Holly Lane to SW Garden Lane also gave way to homes in the early 1950's. There are several large holly trees at the end of SW Holly Lane, but filbert trees still line the lane. Filbert seedlings are also common in the neighborhood.
The houses built on this section of the farm included the homes of several long-time residents of our neighborhood: Don and Elaine Shreve at 8550 SW Holly Lane (1952), Frank and JoAnne Lesage at 7780 SW 87th (1955), and Polly Stady on SW Garden Lane. Three new homes replaced Mrs. Stady's home in 2006.
Other large, rural lots on our street were also perfect for subdividing. Walt Nebert subdivided his property, building the house at 7985 SW 87th in 1955 and the house at 8750 SW Dolph in 1959. The latter was home to the Stovall family for many years.
In the late 1950's into the 1960's, many homes were added to the south end of our street as the area around the old Steele place was developed.
Jack Godwin, who had grown up in the bungalow at 7765 SW 87th, built many of the homes. In 1964, he built his own house back in the cedar woods off SW Dolph at SW 88th. Sadly, Jack died of a heart attack at age 37.
By the end of the 1960's, 20 homes had been added to our street since 1950. All these new homes brought many young families with children. Long-time residents of our street report that it was filled with children in the 50’s and 60’s.
The children attended the Garden Home School in what is now the Garden Home Recreation Center. They returned home not to Westgard Avenue but to SW 87th Avenue. At some point in the late 50's or early 60's, the Post Office changed the named north/south streets in Garden Home to numbered streets.
During this era of growth, a small shopping center was built on an old nut orchard in Garden Home. The shopping center included a very small Lamb’s Thriftway. Later it included a pharmacy which housed the Garden Home Post Office. See Colin Lamb.
In spite of all the development in the 1950's and 60's, our street was not totally suburban. Nearly all of the new homes were built on large, deep lots with plenty of room for a garden. Residents of our neighborhood in the 1960's report there was a pig farm on the north side of SW Dolph near current-day SW 88th. There were two riding academies in Garden Home, and people commonly rode horses in the area.
Robert Herzog had horses in the pasture on his property until 1973. In the 1950s, he and friends enjoyed fox hunting in the Garden Home and Beaverton farmland areas. An article in the April 11, 2009 Oregonian at the time of Mr. Herzog’s passing notes an interesting detail of these fox hunts: “To make up for the Portland area’s relative scarcity of foxes, they would hunt for burlap bags that had been stashed in the fox den at the Oregon Zoo to get impregnated with scent.”
Houses Replace Farris Woods, a Beaver Swamp, and a Pasture
Development continued on our street into the 1970's. By now, almost all the large rural properties had been developed. Only Farris Woods remained. In the mid 1970's, the woods were divided into several small lots. The old Sturtevant property was also subdivided. And for the first time, what is now known as a flag lot was added to our street behind the Godwin cottage.
A couple of other lots were added on the east side of our street. In all, seven homes were added during the 1970's. All of the homes were small and single-story and all but one were built on small lots.
Herb Morisette, a local builder/developer, built many of these. His business was housed in the building at the northeast corner of SW 76th and Garden Home Road where the coffee supply business is now located.
Mr. Morisette also built a development at the south end of our street in what had been woods and beaver swamp where neighborhood children built forts and caught frogs.
Mr. Morisette bought the property for the development from Jack Godwin and called it Godwin’s Glen. The development is entered on SW 88th off of SW Alden and circles onto SW Godwin Court. Legal property descriptions tell the story of other small neighborhood developments of the era. One of the best named is “William and Mary’s Pasture,” the legal description of the properties developed in 1972 around the northwest corner of SW Dolph and SW 88th, named for Bill and Mary Godwin whose cow pasture had housed Babe the burro.
Little Changes But an Elephant Visits
The recession of the early 1980’s brought most building in our area to a halt. No homes were added to our street during that entire decade. Times were hard, and the residents of 8085 SW 87th manufactured small utility trailers on the property.
Our neighborhood still retained a semi-rural feel. There was a horse pastured on the north side of Garden Home Road where SW Marissa Court is now. An unaccompanied dog, looking very much like “Old Yeller,” rounded the corner of SW Dolph and SW 87th on his morning rounds. It was quieter and there was less traffic.
SW Holly Lane and the parts of SW Garden Lane and SW Dolph adjoining SW 87th were dirt roads with quaint wooden street signs. The streets had never been deeded to the county so were not maintained and often had large potholes.
By now, the children had grown up and moved away. In the early 1980’s, the Garden Home School was closed by the Beaverton School District and sold to the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District for $1. The old school library was maintained by volunteers and became the Garden Home Community Library. See Garden Home Library.
David Stabler writes in the Oregonian article of Oct. 9, 2010: Tiki’s debut in the opera “Aida” in 1989 was memorable. She appeared on stage in three passes and successfully performed in the first two passes. But just before the third pass, things went awry. Paul Wright, who was singing in the chorus that night, remembers “Tiki’s costume got hung up on a light standard offstage and it frightened her. She let loose a stream of urine that washed off the makeup of the prisoners. What the audience saw next was a 4,000 pound pachyderm on the run.”
Oregon Live @The Oregonian. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
(This paragraph by Elaine Shreve)
The biggest news of the decade: an elephant visited our street!!! In 1989, Tiki, an elephant who lived at Wildlife Safari in southern Oregon, was appearing in the Portland Opera's performance of Aida.
At the time, the elephant keeper at the Oregon Zoo lived in the house at 8200 SW 87th. He brought Tiki to our street and paraded her around, much to the delight of the neighborhood children. Tiki then spent the night in the elephant keeper's backyard, right here on SW 87th.
Neighbors Celebrate July Fourth and Paved Streets
The economy picked up again in the 1990’s. The old shopping center at Garden Home was torn down and replaced, and Lamb’s Thriftway was greatly expanded. See Colin Lamb.
Two homes were added to our street, both on flag lots. These included the house with the tower at 7677 SW 87th behind the Buddin/Bome home and the house at 7815 SW 87th behind the old Farris home.
Also in the 1990's, Gary and Anne Olson, who had purchased the old Nebert home in 1979, began hosting an annual "All Welcome" July 4th Neighborhood Potluck. Neighbors gathered under Douglas firs planted by the Olson's where the Nebert vegetable garden had once been. The potluck continued for twenty years.
In other changes, Washington County took over maintenance of SW Holly Lane, SW Garden Lane, and SW Dolph Street. For the first time, the streets were paved; no more potholes! The quaint wooden street signs were replaced with green metal signs.
A New Century Brings New Large Homes
With the new century, there were even more changes on our street. Many of the older residents in the neighborhood moved or passed on. Raleigh Green had young families once again. Some of the older, smaller houses on our street became rentals. But energetic new owners of the homes at 7888 and 8175 SW 87th and the owners of the Holman cottage remodeled/rebuilt them into larger two-story homes.
The fields were gone from our street but not the large backyards. As land values increased because of the need to house a growing population within the Urban Growth Boundary, some of the properties which were subdivided in the 1950's and 60's were subdivided once again. A house was built at the southeast corner of SW 87th and SW Holly Lane.
As properties came up for sale, a new generation of developers bought the properties and built two or three large “spec” homes where once one home had stood. The homes at 7991 and 7997 SW 87th built in 2006 on double flag lots on the old Nebert property are prime examples. The single lot the Nebert children grew up on in the 40’s and 50’s now included five homes.
The three homes at 8535, 8545, and 8555 SW Garden Lane which replaced the original Stady family home in 2007 are another example.
However, as the Great Recession hit in 2008, building and developing came to a sudden halt.
Change Continues but Some Food is Still Local
The halt was temporary, though. A property which was part of the old Steele place is being subdivided just as this history is being updated. When a flag lot home is added, there will be forty-two homes on our street.
Yet, the large, semi-rural lots on our street are often still appreciated for what they are rather than for their potential for subdividing. Many have raised beds for growing vegetables and/or lovely gardens. Some have a greenhouse. Chickens and even rabbits are not unknown. We pick blackberries where we find them growing wild. In our own way, we still hunt and gather here.
The Atfalatis Hunt and Gather Here: This section is based on a history of the area surrounding McMenamin’s Riverwood Pub, now closed, which was prepared by McMenamin’s historians. The Pub was located at the Atfalatis summer campsite where Hall Blvd. crosses Fanno Creek.
A House is Built on Our Street: This section is based on information about early Garden Home in the book Garden Home – The Way It Was compiled by the students at the old Garden Home School and edited by Virginia Mapes. This wonderful history can be checked out through Washington County Cooperative Library Services. The date the log home was built came from the Maps and Land Records section of the Washington County Land Use and Transportation website.
The Oregon Electric Railway Brings More Residents: Information about the Oregon Electric Railway came from Garden Home – The Way It Was as well as from various online histories of the Oregon Electric. Dates the early homes were built came from the from the Maps and Land Records section of the Washington County Land Use and
Transportation website. Dan Nebert who grew up in our home and was the son of Walt and Marie Nebert provided the information about the SW 87th and Dolph property.
Eight Families Call Westgard Avenue Home: Dan Nebert provided information for this section which was supplemented with information from the Garden Home History Project stories of Jack Steele and of the Henry Sturtevant Family.
Food Is Local: Carol Sturtevant Pratt inspired this section in a September 2013 email to the compiler. Her information was supplemented with information from Nancy Sturtevant Dachtler and Dan Nebert.
Kids Enjoy Fanno Creek, the Woods, and Assorted Animals: In the fall of 2000, Dan and Tom Nebert, Nancy Sturtevant Dachtler, and Carol Jean (Susie) Sturtevant Pratt reminisced via email about their childhood adventures on our street. The information in this section is taken from that email correspondence as well as from later email correspondence from Dan, Nancy, and Carol.
Young Families Fill New Homes: and Houses Replace Farris Woods, a Beaver Swamp, and a Pasture: These sections are based on verbal recollections of a number of residents who lived here during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s: Bob and Nancy (Sturtevant) Dachtler, Dan Nebert, Don and Elaine Shreve, Frank and Joanne Lesage, Joyce Rosenbalm, Anne Herzog, Donna Marquart Reed, and the Stovall Family. These sections also contain information from the Maps and Land Records section of the Washington County Land Use and Transportation website.
Little Changes but an Elephant Visits: This section is based mostly on recollections of the compiler. Recollections of the elephant’s visit came from Kathy Adams and Peggy Kindred. Further information about Tiki came from an October 9, 2010 Oregonian article published at the time of her passing.
Neighbors Celebrate July Fourth and Paved Streets: Information in this section is largely from the recollections of the compiler. Information on the new homes is from the Maps and Land Records section of the Washington County Land Use and Transportation website.
A New Century Brings New Large Homes: and Change Continues but Some Food is Still Local: These sections are based on recollections of the compiler.
Compiler’s Note: While I have attempted to make this document historically accurate, my overriding goal has been to collect in one place the many snippets of information about our street which past and current residents have provided over the years. The result is, I hope, a snapshot of life on our street during different eras. Any factual errors are mine. Anne Olson
Ed. Note: The modern photos of the homes were taken in 2012-2014 by Elaine Shreve. Many of these subjects have individual stories on website. This compilation of the history of my neighborhood street was part of the impetus to begin the Garden Home History Project. We’d love to know about your street. Thank you Anne.