Garden Home: Children living in the Garden Home area went to either McKay or Raleigh until Garden Home District 92 organized to provide a school program in 1911. It didn’t have its own school building at first; classes were held in a large room above a store. By September of 1912, though, their first schoolhouse was completed on the northwest corner of Rex (now Oleson) and Nichol (now Garden Home) roads – with two classrooms. Garden Home had ninety-seven students in 1920 and ninety-seven district residents were eligible to vote in school elections that year, as well.
In 1937 a multi-purpose gymnasium and auditorium room was constructed, and a tennis court and other improvements were made to the grounds. More classrooms were added in the 1950s, and in 1967 the original portion built in 1912 was demolished. Declining enrollment caused the school to be closed at the end of the school year in 1982, and later the building became a recreation center for the community, operated by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District.
The Garden Home Community Library has been operating in a classroom since the school closed, originally by using books from the school library, and is staffed by volunteers. (2012- Garden Home Community Library is a full function Washington County Library with paid staff. See Library, under Research: gardenhomehistory.com) Outside the building hangs the original bell from the school with the names of the last principal (Wayne Thurman) and last clerk (Mrs. D.W. “Bobbie” Henderson).
Montclair School was developed due to the continuous home building in the Garden Home and Raleigh Hills areas which increased school enrollments. Land that had formerly been a dairy owned by the Gertsch family had been purchased in 1969 by builder Wes Bauman, who sold the northwest part to the district in 1969 so that another education facility could be built. The resulting 12-classroom school was opened in 1970 and called Monclair because it was just across Vermont Creek from the Bauman upscale Montclair homes. Using a fashionable “open space” concept, classrooms surrounded the library and rooms were open to that and each other. Lunches were served “family-style.” Finally the open space was felt to be too distracting and one by one teachers closed the folding doors to separate the rooms. After Garden Home School closed, Montclair reached capacity and four more classrooms were added in 1992. The school has enjoyed a more secluded existence than most as it is at the end of Vermont Street, a dead-end section west of Oleson Road. Walking from the playground towards the wooded area, you can still observe an old roadbed.
Oregon Episcopal School was founded in 1869 as St. Helens Hall, a school once located on properties in Portland. Because a proposed freeway would bisect the 13th and Hall school grounds, the school needed to move from the premises by June of 1964, and their Board of Trustees was able to purchase 32 acres of land in Raleigh Hills that had formerly been the site of the Nicol Riding Academy. In 1965, Bishop Dagwell Hall was added as a “companion school” to St. Helens Hall, sharing the new campus but run separately.
Seven years later the two schools joined and implemented a coeducational institution under the OES name. The school serves students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and there are dormitories available for students in grades 9-12 that are staffed by resident faculty members. Boarders comprise nearly ¼ of the Upper School student body, and about ½ are international students. In 1988 OES acquired the Hampton Courts, a private tennis club just north of the Frank property, and renamed it the Sports and Recreation Center. Construction, renovations and a new Lower School playground were completed in the 1990s.
Raleigh School District 95 had one classroom in 1893, and it stood where the 2-story part of the school is today. Classes were in session only six months its first year. By 1902, though, the length of the school year had been extended to eight months; and in 1913, students were finally attending a full nine months of classes. An upper floor addition of three classrooms and lavatories were added in the late 1930s, along with three classrooms, lavatories and boiler room in the basement. In the late 1940s, students were utilizing a large room downstairs for PE and still using a barn out back for play during inclement weather. With no library but a significant interest in reading, parents and students made a former closet into a small library to house books the 7th and 8th graders brought from home. (Editor: Raleigh seemingly refers to the Raleigh train station area. According to our 1927 maps, it was located right at the Jamieson Road and Scholls Ferry area.)
And there were definite benefits in a school surrounded by farmland – some of the students were allowed to walk over to Zwahlen’s dairy and milk the cows! When the school needed to expand again in 1954, the school board wanted to duplicate what had been done at McKay and build on a 2-story addition to the west. Tom Miles did expansion sketches using only one floor rather than two, and he took these drawings to the Educational Research Department at Stanford University to see how they felt it would work for the school’s expansion. With Stanford’s approval, the District 95 board agreed to the different style. Max Williams became the architect and designed the actual plans for the office complex and additional classrooms (more were added in 1956).
Please note: In answer to our newsletter plea, Mrs. Marian Bird found her daughter’s progress reports, which answers the question of when the school made the name change. Through the 1959-60 school year the school was called Raleigh. From 1960-61 on, it has had the name of Raleigh Hills.
Whitford School was built on Scholls Ferry Road near McKay in 1963 and housed 7th and 8th graders only during its first two years; the 9th grade was added in 1965. The area was sometimes referred to as the Whitford neighborhood because of the Whitford Railroad Station just down the road at Scholls Ferry and Allen. A train was selected for an emblem. A mosaic design was done by the class of 1963 and is displayed in Whitford’s front hall. The Coachmen seemed a fitting name because of the railroad connection and is still considered the mascot. Additions and other improvements were made in the 1970s and in 1981; and, like other intermediate schools in the district, became a middle school in 1994.
Written by Sharon Wilcox, 2001, for the CPO #3 newsletters. Part of the above information came from Gerald H. Varner’s book School Days- A History of Public Schools in and Around Beaverton, Oregon 1856-2000. He wrote and published the book as a nonprofit service to the people of the community and he wrote me that, “I want everybody who is interested to have access to it.” It is available through local libraries.
All of Sharon Wilcox’s stories are copyright by her and approved for use in our Garden Home History Project website and publications.
Compiled by Elaine Shreve, 2012