Beaverton’s early days: What can a single photo from 1915 tell us?

Beaverton’s early days: What can a single photo from 1915 tell us?

This historic image, taken about 1915, has many stories to tell: Beaverton’s early economy, transportation, and family.

The Rossi brothers: Albert (1906-1984) and Raymond (1904-1987) sat for a photo on Front Street (now Farmington Road) with a cow from their parents’ herd. The two of them, their brother Frank (1898-1978), and sister Elva (1895-1983) lived with their parents, Augustus “Gus” and Hattie, in the quiet village of Beaverton. With the population rising to over 400, this little village was beginning to shed its rural agricultural image.

When oral historian Shirley Tanzer interviewed Albert in 1984, he recalled the four siblings going to all sections of town in the morning and evening to deliver cream-rich milk, selling it for 10 cents a quart. Their parents owned a 28-acre farm in east Beaverton near the Oregon Electric Railway Depot that’s visible in the background, awaiting passengers.

The station was built in 1908-09 at the southeast corner of Broadway and East Streets (where new apartments are currently being built, see photo) to serve the quiet, clean, and comfortable interurban line that carried commuters and shoppers. Trains made several daily roundtrips on multiple branch lines to points west from Portland to Forest Grove and south to Eugene. Within a few years it had been expanded and improved with a loading dock and new siding.

An April 1914 issue of Beaverton’s weekly newspaper, The Owl, reported “the body of the building golden on account of the business transacted and trimmed in green in honor of the nationality that live around this vicinity.” The article refers to Washington County and Beaverton’s increasing Irish population at that time.

The Rossi family was also prominent in business, civic, fraternal, and social life. They were, in fact, frequently written about in the newspaper, sometimes humorously. The Owl also noted that in April of 1914, their bulldog Old Dick, mascot for the municipal fire department, was fond of accompanying the firemen on drills and drinking from the hose. Dick was likewise well-known for chasing other dogs around city, creating disruptions.

Time marched on. The tiny hamlet that began as a railroad hub and agricultural community in the 1860s has today grown to a vibrant and diverse city of nearly 100,000 that supports extensive commercial and residential development.

OERR passenger service was discontinued in the 1930s as train travel gave way to automobiles. The depot was demolished in 1995. In its place, Modera Beaverton is constructing an apartment and mixed use complex on the site. The Rossi home, between Canyon Road and Broadway Street near Lombard Avenue, was razed in 1963 to make room for a newer Safeway grocery store. That repurposed building is now vacant; its most recent occupant was Natural Grocers across from Beaverton Pharmacy.


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