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Friends of Historic Forest Grove host first autumn festival this weekend, Sept. 28-29.

COURTESY PHOTO: MARY JO MORELLI - Maureen Andronis, left, and Linda Stiles-Taylor, are among the actors who will participate in the living history tour at the A.T. Smith House on Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sunday, Sept. 29. An opportunity to step back into Forest Grove's history is here with the Friends of Historic Forest Grove' first Fall Festival.

Over 178 years ago, on Sept. 28, 1841, the Quincy Independent Missionary party arrived on the West Tualatin Plains. Its leader, Alvin T. Smith, decided the location of the mission and his home, which still stands today.

PMG PHOTO: JANAE EASLON - The Alvin T. Smith House is a two-story home built in 1854.  It is the second oldest building in Forest Grove. In 1974, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.Fast-forward many years later, and on Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sunday, Sept. 29, anyone can come to the A.T. Smith House — also known as the second-oldest building in Forest Grove, behind Old College Hall at Pacific University — at the end of Elm Street.

From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., people of all ages can participate in free activities like candle-making, apple cider tasting and photo booths outside the home. Artisan displays will be on site both days, along with the "Smith Trading Post" store, which will sell items reminiscent of pioneer heritage. Guests can enjoy music by Way Back When with Elisa Morelli-Hobbs on the violin, Dan Hiscoe playing banjo and guitar, and Mike Workman-Morelli on guitar and mandolin.

Meanwhile, inside the house will be living history tours from noon to 4:30 p.m. Actors portray people from the past, including Alvin T. Smith, who will greet visitors at the door of his home.

Other historical figures include Tabitha Brown, Harvey Clark and Robert "Doc" Newell, all significant people who lived in the area in the mid- to late 1800s.

All the proceeds of the day will go toward preserving the A.T. Smith House. Since 2003, the Friends of Historic Forest Grove have worked to raise funds for upkeep of the space. The U.S. Department of Interior placed the house on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, when it was owned by the Zurcher family.

One person actively making moves to save the integrity of the A.T. Smith House's past is Friends of Historic Forest Grove's president, Mary Jo Morelli. The group bought the A.T. Smith House 14 years ago, and they're looking to continue to restore it, bit by bit, she said.

COURTESY PHOTO: MARY JO MORELLI - Bonnie McDowell will portray Tabitha Brown at the Fall Festival by the Friends of Historic Forest Grove at the A.T. Smith House on Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sunday, Sept. 29.  The Fall Festival was created as a way to raise funds to preserve the house and teach others about the rich history of Forest Grove, Morelli said.

"I think having them on the days of the anniversary of (Smith) coming here is significant," she said. "We tend to celebrate in the fall because of this."

Tickets can be purchased in advance at fhfg.org and from Corner Antiques & Collectibles on Pacific Avenue.

There will be a limited number of time slots available for the tours. The number on the tour also is limited to guarantee the best experience for guests, according to organizers.

"We want everyone to have a good experience and meet these people who were significant in the growth of this community," Morelli said. "It is all right here, in this house."


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