Built in 1878, the Old Scotch Church (officially the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church) in Hillsboro is one of the oldest churches in continuous use in Oregon. It was founded by twelve pioneers from Scotland and built in the Carpenter Gothic style.
History of the Old Scotch Church
On November 16, 1873, twelve settlers from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, gathered in a four-room schoolhouse in Hillsboro to discuss the need for a place of worship and burial ground. By the time the meeting was over, they had founded the Tualatin Plains Church, nominating George Ross as pastor and William Chalmers and James Smith as elders. The pioneers had been members of the Free Church of Scotland back in Aberdeenshire so the new congregation was Presbyterian.
At a meeting held in William Chalmers' house in 1878, the congregation agreed to buy a picturesque two-acre site from one Jacob Hoover on which they would build a church. Mr. Hoover was present at the meeting; he generously offered to donate one of the acres and sell the other for $25. At another meeting on May 11, a proposed design submitted by a Mr. Balantyne was approved. The expected cost was $2120.
Most of the founding twelve members remained in the area throughout their lives; eight of them are buried in the churchyard. The first person laid to rest there was Margaret Smith Chalmers, the young daughter of William and Catherine Chalmers; she died May 28, 1876, at the age of 6 years and 9 months. William Chalmers died in 1891, followed by his wife in 1899. The first pastor, Rev. George Ross, was still leading the church when he died in 1894.
The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is still in use by a Presbyterian congregation today. In 2004, your author got married here!
What to See at the Old Scotch Church
The Old Scotch Church is situated in a peaceful location in the countryside a few miles outside the city of Hillsboro. The little white chapel is designed in the Carpenter Gothic style (a modest form of Gothic Revival architecture using wood), with a tall octagonal steeple, side buttresses, a steep roof and stained glass windows. It is oriented north, with the old burial ground extending to the west and east.
In addition to eight of the founding members of the church, the cemetery contains many historic graves. The most famous is that of Colonel Joseph Meek, mountain man and first U.S. Marshall of the Oregon Territory. He died in 1875 and was buried at his nearby homestead. When the land was sold, his remains were moved to the east cemetery of the Old Scotch Church.
Quick Facts on the Old Scotch Church
|Names:||Old Scotch Church · Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church|
|Categories:||churches; National Register of Historic Places; religious buildings|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||45.572700° N, 122.994285° W|
|Address:||30685 Scotch Church Road|
|Hours:||Usually locked, but cemetery and grounds are always open.|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Old Scotch Church|
- Personal visits (September 2004, May 2009).
- History of the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church - official website
Map of the Old Scotch Church, Hillsboro
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Old Scotch Church. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.