The Jenkins Estate

The Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation department continues to surprise me. First there was the Cooper Mountain nature preserve which I have written about before. When researching that, I came across the Jenkins Estate and have had that on my list of places to go for a while now. Until recently, I hadn’t really put much of a priority on it. Yesterday I went and what a great property. Let me start with a little history…

Belle and Ralph Jenkins bought the 68 acre property on the top of Cooper Mountain (part of Beaverton now) in 1913 and wanted it to satisfy her love of horses. They built a large stable and covered riding area. They also put in extensive English style gardens, although I have not been able to discover who the architect was. I tell you – he was good. It includes a tea garden, ponds, wetlands area, rhododendron gardens, lawns, forest walks and so much more. Unlike “The Oregon Garden”, this garden was masterfully designed and everything hangs together properly. There are some area of the garden where this is not so, and I am guessing that these areas were changed from their original purpose or designed later by people who did not quite understand the whole concept. Still, the gardens are delightful and very well tended to.

The property was sold to a land developer in 1971 but it became clear that getting sewer services there was going to be a long time coming. The Park District bought the property in 1976 and I am pleased to say they have totally preserved and probably improved upon the structures and the gardens. Today the property is available for corporate meetings, weddings or just to take a quiet stroll around. Now that is what I call preserving things of value and making them available to the public.

As soon as I entered the property I felt a kind of peace and excitement. The big question was which direction to head in first. I took the wooded trails and looked off into small meadow areas in clearings. A variety of trees were present as well as thick undergrowth. Every now and then I watch catch a glimpse of one of the structures on the site. I pictured myself as a child exploring this estate, trying to find the best tree to climb, or the location to build a secret hiding place. I think any child would have loved to have lived here and I can so imaging the adventures that would have been possible. The sad part about it is that they never had children.

Also present on the site is Camp Rivendale. This is a summer day camp and recreational area for at-risk youths and individuals with disabilities or behaviorally challenged. My hat is off to them for doing this!

I will be writing a lot more about this place, but that will have to wait for another time. Entrance to the grounds is free year round. Times are approximate but there was a nice big sign on the gate saying the time that they would be closing. The main building was in use when I visited so I will also have to go back sometime to explore this log home that was built in 1912.

What can I say – I am becoming a fan of the Tualatin Hills Parks department.

Brought to you by Brian Bailey

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