Column: The Real Story – Dirk Knudsen
The Hillsboro Herald and our staff often take on stories designed to make our readers think and understand the greater context and world in which we live. All things are not as they seem, and behind every story, there is a much bigger one. A couple of months back, our Matt Andersen and Ginny Mapes wrote a story about an iconic and historical banker, John C Shute. His first home was built on the Tualatin Plains on the Constable Land Claim. The classic farmhouse was built in the 1880s and placed on 80 acres of the most beautiful farmland in Washington
County. Mr. Shute married Lizzie Constable, who grew up on over 600 acres of land along what is now Brookwood and Evergreen Roads. Land that is now the hottest Industrial land in the State of Oregon. The dowery given to the young couple by her parents, Edward and Brazilla Constable, was enough to stake the Shutes to become one of the wealthiest families in the Region.
At City Hall this evening, we witnessed the next huge land expansion heading West of the Shute Farm; we paused to think about how this farm, or any farm or home on acreage, will survive. The onslaught of developers, pushed on by the State, METRO, and our own City Hall, are leaving nothing of what was. Everything, including trees and natural features, is being flattened and ripped out. Gravel, steel, and cement replace ancient Oaks and beautiful farm fields. With the testimony we heard tonight, one would think there is no choice and that what is coming is for the best. But that is hard to believe. Look at the changes that have come to the Shute Farm just in the last ten years; most of it has come in the past 24 months.
2012 -SHUTE FARM – 4825 NE Starr Street, Hillsboro, Oregon
2015 -SHUTE FARM – 4825 NE Starr Street, Hillsboro, Oregon
2018 -SHUTE FARM – 4825 NE Starr Street, Hillsboro, Oregon
2019 -SHUTE FARM – 4825 NE Starr Street, Hillsboro, Oregon
2020 -SHUTE FARM – 4825 NE Starr Street, Hillsboro, Oregon
The 2021 View of North Hillsboro Industrial Park showing the historic Shute House and property as marked in yellow
The John C Shute House has the National Historic Registry designation making it one of the most historical places in Oregon. This is the state of affairs as of August 2022. In 10 years, the farm has been completely surrounded by heavy industrial uses that have destroyed the country’s setting and livability – all in the name of progress.
These last 10 years have been transformative. The Haag family, who have called this place home for 60 years, enter a new era with eldest Son Mark and his wife Erin, and his sister Lisa and her husband Randy, trying to care for and guide the farm into the next 60 years. Tonight we look at this icon and support them in their efforts to provide a place where history can take a stand and remain among the many new facilities that are now opening. The City of Hillsboro can help by providing some zoning options beyond pure industrial for the family to be able to survive. Visitors all agree that the farm would be a natural for a McMenamins like Pub and destination for events and an Air BNB Inn. It now has a veggie and fruit store offering local farm products, garden plants, and flowers, something the farm has done for decades. Time will tell, but we are hopeful for a solution that can work for all parties.
Who Is Next? The 30-plus small acreages in the Jackson East Industrial Expansion are next up! How many years before they are in the same position? Well, the City of Hillsboro has used taxpayer money to purchase over 200 acres of land to create another pad-ready development site. This will accelerate the process, no doubt shaving years off of the process. Here is the battlefield in which there will be winners and losers in the next few years. Are you ready? Stay tuned to the Hillsboro Herald on this developing story!