McMinnville Heritage Preservation has officially handed the deed to the original town springs to city officials.
“This is a great addition to our park system as we extend greenways and walking trails, as well as being a vital part of our history,” said McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley. “I would like to thank the organization and all the volunteers who worked on this project. It truly is a benefit to the city and its residents to have this piece of our history.”
The spot that drew settlers into the area more than 200 years ago caught the attention of McMinnville Heritage Preservation as its latest historic conservation effort. It is located on Colville Street near the office of Burroughs-Ross-Colville.
“We want to express our appreciation for the city of McMinnville taking over our project,” said Neil Schultz, McMinnville Heritage Preservation member, as he presented the deed to the area which officials unanimously agreed to adopt in May 2016.
McMinnville was founded in 1810. More recently used as a dumping ground, the springs were once the primary source of water for the city from 1810 to 1884. It was the first lot deeded on May 7, 1811.
Organization members and volunteers spent more than $40,000 and years of hard work removing the trash and overgrowth in order to erect a stone monument in the middle of a rock garden to mark the spot that prompted settlers to locate here.
The monument is an eight-foot stone is called “Our Ebenezer,” a Hebrew word which means stone of help. It was placed as a testimonial to the hard work of our pioneers, while the garden was named “Emmanuel’s Garden” after a black church that once stood there.
“Some people think it’s strange we’ve spent that much money on a project and we’re happy to be able to give it away,” said Schultz. “We are giving it away because we feel like, in time, it will engender a feeling of community pride and we will be paid back in many ways.”
The deed does have a reverter clause. If the city abandons the property and ceases to use it as a historic park, ownership of the property will revert back to McMinnville Heritage Preservation.