Forest Grove: Downtown in Vintage America

Much of the Portland metro enjoys a retro flavor.  But away from the city itself, the enclave of Forest Grove offers the kind of small town idyll that we might expect from America of the 1940s and 50s.

Thought Forest Grove might be considered a suburb of Portland if you look at in on a map, that label isn’t really a fair one. Forest Grove has its own economy (largely agricultural in base, with an emphasis on wine);  many of its residents live and work in Forest Grove, with little need to commute to the “big city” at all.

On my recent visit, I was thrilled to find the downtown un-blighted by huge strip malls crammed with chain store redundancy. Instead, I found a town center proud of its 150 year plus history. The architecture here and in the closely surrounding neighborhoods is lovingly restored turn-of-the-century, with  Classic Revival, Second Empire, Craftsman Bungalow, Italianate and Victorian among the many gorgeous old homes for sale in Forest Grove.

Yet though the architecture does indeed evoke the grandeur of bygone eras, Forest Grove itself evokes something more down to Earth. Somehow, the town straddles an upscale and burgeoning wine, arts, and cultural scene while remaining friendly to families, farmers, and people at every point on the economic spectrum. My friends and I, coming from Portland, felt welcome. Anyone would.

Our trip was centered on the chance to visit Forest Grove and to take part in one of the city’s farmers’ market. Rather famous locally, these markets include the chance to taste Forest Grove wines and sample local beer. These, combined with seafood brought over from the nearby Oregon Coast, seasonal produce, plus artisanal cheese, bread, and chocolate make for a memorable meal, all of it free, though to be honest, we spent quite a lot buying more of everything we tasted so we could bring it all home with us.

The downtown also hosts more upscale events, including a wine tasting gala dinner, something you could dress up for and enjoy in these grand, vintage surroundings; and if you lived here, simply walk home, slightly tipsy and very happy.

The best way to see Forest Grove’s graceful homes and historic downtown is with the help of a local real estate agent who knows the area and can find you the perfect home. But in the meantime, start on foot with the city’s historic architectural walking tour which includes time in the town center as well as neighboring residential areas in the Clark-National Historic District.

Homes for Sale in Forest Grove

Photo Credit: Forest Grove.gov

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and  Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert