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Donations needed for exhibit celebrating communities outside of city's 'Historic Downtown.'

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM HISTORICAL SOCIETY - Stark Street, then known as Baseline Road, ran through the heart of Rockwood. Rockwood was named after pioneering farmers encountered nearly unworkable soil filled with rocks and boulders — an unfortunate legacy of the ancient Missoula Floods.

But nevertheless a small community grew around the crossroads of Stark and 181st — then the intersection of Baseline and Rockwood roads. The community was characterized by the roadhouses that served stagecoach traffic leaving Portland. At least one, known as Birdleg's Place, was owned by a Black resident and in operation until 1936, outlasting many competitors that shuttered during Prohibition.

Those stories are just part of what will be featured in an exhibit this fall at the Gresham History Museum, 410 N. Main Ave., that will celebrate not only Rockwood's history, but the stories from all the communities and neighborhoods outside of downtown Gresham, including Centennial, Cedarville, Pleasant Valley, Sycamore, Hillsview, Orient, Pleasant Home, Wilkes and Powell Valley.

Like Rockwood, many of those neighborhoods used to be considered separate towns, annexed into Gresham as it grew.

"Often people get the impression that all of the city's history is contained within Historic Downtown," Museum Director Silvie Andrews said. "This exhibit is one step to rectifying that and proving each of these places has its own unique history."

The display, "Beyond Main Street," will highlight what made each of those communities unique and special. The Gresham Historical Society is seeking donations to fill out the exhibit, including objects, photos or documents that depict life or were made in those places.

Donations can be made at greshamhistorical.org/contact — walk-in donations are not accepted.


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