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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 4


April 2005

St Anthony of Padua confirmation class, May 19, 1900 (courtesy Mary Groch)

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church

by Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill History

If you look sharp you’ll notice a small cemetery encircled by redwood trees north of the Village Baptist Church property on SW Murray, south of Highway 26. It is the St. Anthony Catholic cemetery and the site of the old St. Anthony of Padua Church and School.

Although the site is not considered within the boundaries of Cedar Mill today, it certainly was back then – there was no freeway cutting things up.

St. Anthony of Padua was the second Catholic mission in the Tualatin Valley, founded in 1876 by Father Joseph Hermann. An earlier mission had been founded in Verboort but Father Hermann selected the Cedar Mill area because ”this place was and is the most central location of the Catholic settlers in that section.” Prior to that time, Mass was held for Cedar Mill folks at Union School on NW 143rd and in various private homes.

Several Cedar Mill parishioners donated land and Archbishop F.W. Blanchet bought about 1.4 acres for $14.00 to complete a tract large enough for a church and cemetery. In 1878, a modest 20’ by 40’ wood frame church was built on the west side of Murray Road. The exterior was given three coats of paint but the interior remained unfinished due to lack of funds and the thin and lightly constructed building creaked and groaned in heavy winds.

At this time, about 30 families attended Mass, some driving as far as 20 miles by horse and wagon to attend services. Because many roads were impassable in winter and people rode on horseback, horse railings were installed along both sides of the church and a shed was constructed for shelter.

Later, the changing of the County Road and the selection of a suitable burial ground, made it necessary to move the church building to the east side of the tract. In 1888, the St. Anthony of Padua Parochial School was built and opened with 75 students, taught by the Dominican Sisters who lived next door to the school. Fire destroyed the structures in 1897 but they were later rebuilt, with the Sisters of Mercy teaching the children. The church building had survived.

During the church’s existence, a total of 13 priests were attached to the parish. Many made friends in Cedar Mill. Father Levesque was a member of the Cedar Mill Debate Club and Father LeMiller resided here, traveling by horse and buggy to Tigard and Cooper Mountain to visit Catholic families there.

Fire struck the St. Anthony School and sisters’ home again in 1906 but this time the buildings were not replaced. Due to road conditions and a shift in population, parish headquarters were moved to Beaverton. The church building, however, remained to serve the community for a number of years. In 1912, Father James O’Flynn was appointed to St. Anthony. He lived in Beaverton and commuted by horseback to Cedar Mill to conduct Mass. The final service was offered in 1916 and in 1922 the old church was dismantled and the lumber was used to floor the basement of St. Cecelia in Beaverton.

Only the small cemetery and the redwood trees remain today. Joe Murray, who briefly attended the school, is buried there along with other family members. Stop and take a stroll into the past. (Access to the cemetery is through the Village Baptist parking lot.



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The Cedar Mill News
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