Forgotten Former Name of Sunnyside: Rosedale

Doctor Perry Prettyman was one of the first settlers around Mt. Tabor. He practiced as a doctor and is credited with introducing the dandelion to Oregon. He built a home near the modern intersection of 55th and Hawthorne, and the path he would take to the Willamette River would later become Hawthorne Blvd.

Prettyman obtained a one-square-mile land claim around 1850, bordered by today’s SE Chávez to the west, SE Stark to the north, SE 60th to the east and SE Division to the south. The NW quarter of his claim lies in today’s Sunnyside neighborhood east of SE Chávez. 

Sometime before his death in 1872, Prettyman started dividing his land claim, transferring various parts to his four sons. The section to the north, between today’s Stark Street and Belmont Street, was divided into a series of five-acres lots, some of which were subsequently sold. 

It is around this time that William Beck acquired the two five-acre lots in the NW corner of the land claim. William Beck arrived in Portland in 1852 and quickly established himself as a prominent gunsmith and gun merchant. The first lot he acquired from Prettyman today includes the Volunteer of America office building at the SE corner of Stark and Chavez as well as all the apartment buildings along the east side of Chavez going south to Belmont. The second lot would later become Peacock Lane and all its adjoining houses.

Beck’s main residence at the time was in the city (west of the Willamette). The 10-acre lot in Sunnyside was to become his “summer home” which he named Rosedale. In his book, “Portland, Oregon, Its History and Builders,” Joseph Gaston offers the following description:

Beautiful Rosedale, his summer home two miles from the city, was the pride of his heart. With his own hands he cleared the ground and planted his trees. The days spent here were probably the happiest of his life, although he worked from sunrise to sunset he called it “recreation.” The magnificent fruit and vegetables raised in Oregon today are no finer than those which came from the Rosedale orchards and gardens; not a pound was ever sold—it was only for his friends and those who were unable to buy. Many Sundays found him at Rosedale and at evening when he drove back to the city he told his friends he had “been in church all day.” 

Beck is credited as the main force behind the first bridge across the Willamette. Although the first Morrison bridge created a direct connection between his store at Front and Morrison streets and his summer home, Beck only enjoyed it briefly from its opening in 1887 to his death in 1889. With the new bridge in operation, the streetcar arrived in Sunnyside that same year and Rosedale was sold to be further divided. The Peacock Lane section was purchased by Joseph Simons, then a State Senator, and later US Senator and subsequently Mayor of Portland. It remained undeveloped until 1923 when it was subdivided into today’s Peacock Lane under the name of “Ex-Mayor Simon’s Addition.”

The name Rosedale survived a while longer. It can be found on the original subdivision survey of the land to the south. Owned by John A. Beck, William Beck’s nephew, the land encompassing today’s Yamhill from Chávez to that little zigzag on Yamhill east of 42nd, and up to Belmont, was subdivided under the name of “Edendale” in 1889. On the official survey, the stretch of Belmont Street from Chávez to east of 42nd is named “Rosedale Avenue’.’ Although it’s unclear whether that street name was ever used in practice, the Mount Tabor trolley stop later built at the corner of Chávez and Belmont was known as Rosedale station. A funeral announcement published in the Oregonian on April 12, 1895 refers to a residence on today’s 38th block of Yamhill St. as located “a short distance from the Rosedale Station, Mount Tabor railway.” In his book “Portland’s Streetcars,” Richard Thompson has a picture dated at the beginning of the 20th century showing a Mount Tabor trolley car with a dashboard sign reading “No stops west of Rosedale.” Thompson adds “the dashboard sign (…) indicates it was running as a limited from the city limits near Thirty-ninth Street.” It’s unclear how long Rosedale survived as a station name into the 20th century before becoming one of the forgotten place names of Sunnyside.

Vincent Dawans