Oregon Historical County Records Guide
Washington County History
Public Services Building
Forest Grove in Washington County is an unlikely home for a sakery--which brings up at least two questions. What is a sakery? It's a place where saké is brewed. What is saké? It's a rice wine based on centuries of Japanese tradition that is made like beer but served like wine. In fact, saké comprises about a fifth of the wine consumed in the world, yet only a tiny fraction of the wine consumed in America.
SakéOne Corporation, based in Forest Grove, became the world's only American-owned-and-operated sakéry in 1998. It has gained a large percentage of the American premium saké market thanks in part to a surge in the popularity of Japanese restaurants. Company officials are confident that when Americans think of wine, a growing number of them won't just think of grapes, they'll think of rice too. (Source: SakéOne Corporation)
The Provisional Legislature created Washington County as Tuality District on July 5, 1843, as one of the four original counties created in Oregon. Tuality County was bordered on the north by latitude 54deg. 40min., on the east by Clackamas County, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the south by Yamhill County. In 1844, the Columbia River was made the northern boundary of Tuality County and Clatsop County was created from Tuality County's western half. In 1849, the Territorial Legislature changed the name of Tuality County to Washington in honor of President George Washington. Washington County obtained its present boundaries in 1854 with the creation of Columbia County to the north and Multnomah County to the east. The area of Washington County is 727 square miles.
Columbia was selected as the county seat in 1850. Later, the town was given the name of Hillsborough, which in 1858 was modified to Hillsboro. After meeting in two local church buildings, a permanent county headquarters was built in 1852. A brick courthouse was built in 1873 and remodeled in 1891. In 1912 an annex was built. A new courthouse was built in 1928 to replace the original brick structure. The Justice Services Building was added on to the courthouse in 1972. The Public Services Building was constructed in 1990 to house most county offices. The Walnut Street Center opened in 1999 and houses many Land Use and Transportation Department offices.
Although Tuality County government was established in 1843, a complete county government was not organized until 1845 when three county judges having probate and administrative authority, a treasurer, and a sheriff were appointed. The first election of county and territorial officers was held in 1846.
The voters of Washington County approved a home rule charter at the general election in 1962. The new county government was headed by the county administrative officer and board of county commissioners, which is the five-member policy making body of the county. Under home rule, most county services are provided by broad functional departments, such as assessment and taxation, health and human services, and land use and transportation.
Washington County is one of the fastest developing areas in Oregon. Its population of 445,342 in 2000 represented an increase of 42.94% since 1990. The 2006 population of 500,585 marked a 12.4% increase since 2000. The development of a large electronics industry during the last two decades has contributed significantly to the economy of the county. Other principle industries are agriculture, lumber, manufacturing, and food processing. The headquarters of Nike, the world's leading supplier of athletic shoes, apparel, and sports equipment, are near Beaverton.