Hillsboro’s Historic Downtown Reveals Its Stories

When you walk through Downtown Hillsboro, you might notice the quaint historic facades, the inviting boutiques, and the tantalizing restaurants, but the Hillsboro Historical Society (HHS) wants you to look beyond that cozy first impression. After years spent in dusty records rooms and leafing through old newspapers, HHS is nearly ready to invite you in, to learn the story of our town—through all the colorful, inspiring personalities that built this community we love.

The first phase of the “Stories on the Streets” project will install 23 signs on the buildings of East Main Street between Second and Third Avenues, featuring a playful spin on Victorian silhouette art, coupled with quirky stories from the past.

Through the “Stories on the Streets” project, you will have a chance to get to know:

  • Orange Phelps: The oldest of the original theater men, a semi-pro baseball catcher, and former Hillsboro mayor.
  • Emma McKinney:  A widowed mother turned newspaperwoman and the namesake of a major national newspaper award.
  • Dr. F.A. Bailey:  A pioneer doctor so dedicated to his patients that he would build rafts during flood season just to reach them.

The Historical Society hopes to offer you the chance to connect with your community through the story of our shared Hillsboro heritage—the story we, ourselves, contribute to every day as we live, work, play, and endure an epidemic…together.

Our hope is that by sharing these tales of our collective past, we can draw people together under a common bond, one of community pride and involvement. We hope, too, that this project will give travelers to the Tualatin Valley a similarly clear sense of this place—a gorgeous town that has inspired generations of entrepreneurs, statesmen, organizers, and artisans.

And, of course, we hope their stories will inspire you, too!

If you would like to sponsor a sign or get involved in the “Stories on the Streets” project, we would love to hear from you. You can reach our President, Dirk Knudsen, at DirkKnudsen@gmail.com. You can also support our work with a membership at HistoricHillsboro.org.

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