Gresham History

Early SettlersView of Gresham from Walters Hill circa 1907. This early Gresham photograph looking north from Gresham Butte has landmarks that are recognizable today.

It was the lure of land that enticed settlers to what would later be known as Gresham. The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 granted 320 acres of free land to pioneers who wanted to homestead.

Before 1884, Gresham was known to many as Camp Ground or Powell's Valley, after one of the first pioneer families that settled in the area.

Many early pioneer family names are still recognizable as street and road names including: Powell Boulevard, Regner Road, Roberts Avenue, Palmquist Road and Shattuck Way.

Becoming a City

In 1884 business owner Benjamin Rollins petitioned Postmaster General Walter Q. Gresham for a post office, suggesting the town be named after the postmaster. At the same time, a second petition had been circulated to name the post office Camp Ground, as it was known to locals. The postmaster was swayed by the suggestion to name the community in honor of him, and on May 15, 1884 the Gresham Post Office was established.

Gresham elected its first mayor and city council in 1904. Permission to incorporate Gresham was granted by the state on Feb. 11, 1905. Gresham’s first city hall was built for $3,000 in 1912 at the corner of Powell and Roberts.

Explore Gresham’s History

To learn more about Gresham visit the Gresham Historical Society, located in the historic Carnegie Library building at 401 N. Main Ave.

To see how early Gresham families lived tour the historic Zimmerman House. The Zimmerman family lived on the farm continuously from 1869 until 1992. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

See Our History

Thayer Berry Box Factory 

Thayer Berry Box Factory 

Columbia Brick Works 

Columbia Brick Works 

Cultivating cabbage 

Cabbage Cultivation 

thumbnail - threshing machine 

Threshing Machine 


Cedarville Confectionary 

  Cedarville Confectionery 

snow in downtown Gresham 

  Downtown Snow 

Gresham Fire Department 

Gresham Fire Department  

first aid car 

First Aid Car 


gravel pit 

Gravel Pit 


cutting hay with horses 

Cutting Hay 


Donahue and Kelly Logging Co. 

Logging Camp 


Metzger Store 

Metzger Store 


thumbnail - newspaper 

Gresham Outlook 


thumbnail - S and J Hardware Store 

S & J Hardware Store 


Schedeen Homestead 

 Schedeen Homestead 


Gresham Berry Growers Cannery 

Gresham Berry Growers