It's We Love Tigard week on KGW News at Sunrise. It's just part of the way we want to connect you to the communities around us, and show off what's unique and special about each city in the Portland metro area.
You might think of Tigard as home to a Costco and Washington Square Mall. Or just a pathway for Highway 99 to get you to wine country, or the coast. But we're spending a week learning about the history and community of the city. And it's so cool!
Chapter one: History of Tigard
The city of Tigard sent us some historical photos to compare "then and now."
The John Tigard house was built in the 1800s. It's where the pioneer, Wilson Tigard, built his house for his kids after traveling from Arkansas on the Oregon Trail.
The cool part is, the house is still here, and kept up to its original look inside and out. It was moved to East Butte Heritage Park, and is open four times a year for tours.
Tigard's first high school wasn't named Tigard at all. It was called Union High School. It was right on Main Street until the 1950s. KGW met David Rodriguez, a Vietnam vet, and Tigard native, in the parking lot of what Union High has become: Value village. He loves to shop there for music and work clothes.
We asked if he was surprised to see the school in Value Village's place.
"Yes! Very much. I didn't know that, I didn't know that at all," Rodriguez said. "The history of Tigard! You have so much that was going on here, and things have kind of changed."
Old Germania Hall Hotel on Main Street, seen here in the 1800s, has been replaced by the same style of building.
The new building has been a restaurant and storefront.
On Tigard's Main Street sat the Tigard General Store in 1920. It also held the post office and meeting hall inside. Today it's home to Doctors Greg Oltmann and Terry Erdman, who own Tigard Chiropractic Clinic. The old store building, long gone.
"I hurt my back working on a drilling rig years ago and we gassed up in Tigard," Dr. Erdman recalls. "There was a store and a gas station as I remember it. And I thought, 'Who would ever want to live in this little town? There's nothing here. That was 50 years ago, and look at it now, and it's nice being not right in downtown Portland, but on the outskirts. I love it."
We Love Tigard: The city's historic roots
Chapter two: Community and conversation
If you love where you live, community and conversation are usually at the heart of why. Hundreds of KGW viewers chimed in on our Facebook page, voting for the best places to eat, best coffee, best parks and many of you wouldn't live anywhere else but Tigard.
Primo Espresso came in number one with our Facebook family. We sat down two strangers who happen to have the same first name, and the same love. Meet Carin and Karen. Tigard is near and dear to their collective heart.
Watch: Why we love Tigard
"It's a small-town feel but with all the amenities of a place you would want," said Karen Hughart. "There's access to downtown Portland, access to the freeway, but everyone still goes to the high school football games, even the mayor. And you see people you know. It's such a supportive community."
"The Tigard Festival of Balloons, we've been active with that since it started here," said Carin Grover. "My daughter, the year before she was born, we started helping to run it and she grew up doing balloon festivals with us."
Photos: 2015 Festival of Balloons in Tigard
Tigard is a nexus to so much.The city of 53,000 didn't become official till 1961. But a pioneer named Wilson Tigard was among the first to settle here in the 1850s. His son opened the first store, which combined a post office and meeting hall. Grandson Curtis Tigard just passed away last year at 109. A lot has changed in that time.
"It's definitely growing. It's growing a lot but I still think it has that small town feel," said Hughart. What's more cozy and small town than a 24-7 diner? Add in the same family that's run it since it opened 40 years ago. And pie. It's got to have pie.
"You'll find me or my brother in all the area farmers markets every spring and summer, picking up fresh fruits and peaches," says Jenn Banning of Banning's Restaurant. You told us on Facebook it's by far your No. 1 favorite food pick in Tigard. And Jenn's parents, the couple who started it as newlyweds in 1979, are the cutest ever.
Her mother Trish Banning reminisced with husband Mark, "I started out hostessing and waitressing, pie-making, scheduling and bookkeeping, but he fired me from bookkeeping."
Banning's was an early landmark on Highway 99. In old newspaper ad clippings, they offered 30 varieties of pie, baked fresh daily. Fast forward through years of upgrades and a switch to being open 24-7. The menu has even made room for millennials, thanks to daughter Jenn.
"Something more fun that we serve now is the "Tot-chos," which is a tater tot nacho. We thought it was weird at first, but it's totally taken off," said Jenn.
Loyal customer Jerry Hedin is partial to their soups. "The food is real good. The wait staff is real friendly," Hedin said. He was here on opening day 40 years ago as a maintenance tech for Lake Oswego schools, and every week since, now that he's retired. Tigard has been his home for decades.
A place like Banning's is rare for a community that's seen a lot of big box stores move in. But for the Bannings and so many other Tigard residents, it's still about the people.
"I enjoy coming in here all the time, weekends and nights. All different times," said Mark Banning. "It's the people, it's the customers, great employees, that's what makes it good. We're so grateful, our customers and our staff are amazing and loyal."
Chapter three: Nature parks
What may truly set Tigard apart from other cities of its size are the nature parks, trails and wildlife that you can experience just off Highway 99.
Hundreds of you told us your favorite place to get off the beaten path is Cook Park. Viewer Gretchen Mills gave it such a good shout-out, we asked her to take us on the 4-mile walk she does everyday along the Fanno Creek Trail.
"I love Tigard because of the community feel. And the animals I get to see. There are always ducks around, rabbits over there. There are even beavers!" Mills said as she walked along the trail one drizzly morning.
"You feel like you're out in the country but you're right next to downtown, off Pacific Highway so it's just the best of both worlds."
Mills said there's so much wildlife, she was stalked by a coyote on one walk. On a drive past Cook Park, she spotted a cougar another morning some years ago.
So what makes Tigard so special? For Mills, that's easy. "It's the neighborhoods, the trails, I love the walking trails. I love the stores, where I go shopping and stuff, you just know everybody"
Chapter four: Tigard's painted rocks
"I always like to hide one right there, and it's very obvious to people that it's not part of the decoration of the fountain," said Christina Kell as she pointed to a rock fountain outside the jewelry store she works at on Main Street. In her off-time, the Tigard mom of two is the founder of Tigard Rocks, a Facebook group with over 300 members.
The city is part of the secret painted-rock phenomenon. Many of you told us on Facebook that this scavenger-hunt of looking around the city for hand-painted rocks is just another reason why Tigard is so special and community-centered.
When you find a hand-painted, smooth river rock, you're supposed to post a photo of it to the group's page, then either re-hide it or keep it and paint a new one to hide. A bunch of cities do it across the Northwest and across the country, and they get pretty intricate.
There are rocks with quotes, designs, themed groups of rocks, whatever you can think of to make someone's day. The only rules are: No hiding them inside businesses or in grass--for the danger of lawnmowers kicking them up.
But most rocks are "hidden" out in the open for people to easily spot. The Facebook page has hundreds of posts of all different kinds. Kell organizes big painting parties, and gets her kids in on the action too.
"There are people you form friendships with as you're hiding them, or rivaling who-can-do-it-better kind of thing. There are people who paint them with a Disney theme or something. And it blows my mind what people can come up with."