There's history at your feet
You can barely turn a corner in Newberg without being confronted by some element of history. There's the Minthorne House Museum, formerly the childhood home of President Herbert Hoover. Pioneer Ewing Young's grave is just outside of town. Venture over to Champoeg State Heritage Area and you can witness an obelisk marking the creation of the first provincial government in the Northwest.
But, ultimately, you need look no farther than your feet for history, that is if you're standing in the right part of town. Because it turns out on the sidewalk lie markers that have been there for more than a century.
To recognize that fact, the city of Newberg was successful in its pursuit of a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to, as characterized in a statement from the city, "uncover stories and document historical features found on the sidewalks of Newberg, Oregon."
The grant allowed the city to contract with consultant Harris Environmental Group to inventory the sidewalk markers. Folks interested in hearing more are invited to gather at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 12) at the Newberg Public Safety Building, 401 E. Third St.
Most prominent among the markers was a stamp in the sidewalks that says "John Groff & Son," "J. Groff 1914" and "John Groff Contractor" and found at various sites across the city.
Groff, according to an investigation by Harris Environmental Group, was one of nine contractors named in a Nov. 26, 1913, city ordinance that made way for the installation of sidewalks on First, Main, Garfield and Sheridan streets.
"Groff was responsible not only for furnishing all materials and labor, but also for leveling the space between the curb and the sidewalk line and removing all of the trees in the way," according to the Harris report.
Groff didn't exactly make it rich undertaking the work, though. He was "paid nine cents per square foot for all cement laid and thirteen cents per square foot for all walk laid," the report added.
What the report found that was a bit confusing, however, is that all of the Groff stamps found in the city are outside the boundaries of the four streets identified in the ordinance. Harris, the city said, is continuing to research Groff and "his contribution to the sidewalks of Newberg, with previous research showing that there are at least eight other stamps with his name in the city."
But the inventory of historical elements isn't reserved strictly to sidewalks stamps. It also features horseshoe rings, mail posts, curb stamps and rail lines, with many features dating back to the late 1800s.
"A project like the Historical Sidewalk Inventory invites residents to feel more connected to the streets and sidewalks they use every day," the report said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.