Maplewood Coffee & Tea began life in 1911 as the Maplewood Store and Post Office – locals called it the Green Store. Along with standard postal supplies and basic grocery items, they carried penny candy in big glass jars, and ice cream from a cooler at the front of the store. Lots of locals tell stories of stealing candy when they were kids – the bane of the postmaster’s existence.
In 1911 the store was considered to be the hub of the community. Newspaper ads for home rentals frequently asked respondents to “inquire at Maplewood store”. At that time, basic lots in the area went from $60 to $90, with “Easy Terms”, and no interest. A listing in the in the July 9, 1922, Oregonian advertised a plat with a house –
½ acre with 6 rooms, large living room and modern fireplace, with two-inch waxed fir flooring which looks as neat as hardwood floors; buffet, breakfast nook, FRENCH doors, double constructed, plastered, full cement basement, white enamel bath, septic tank, gas, electricity, city water, city carfare. Wonderful view. Located on good gravel road, close to electric lines and school.
The asking price was for $4,200. Apparently, genuine French doors were a big deal in those days.
On New Year’s Day in 1908, Oregon Electric trains began operating between Portland and Salem. The service was fast and dependable, the entire line being powered by electricity. To stand out, the railroad ordered the highest quality interurban cars available. Their “traction orange” color, a bright orange that had become a trademark of the industry, was changed to a more elegant “Pullman green”. Rolling stock included combination baggage, smoking, and passenger motorcars, observation-buffet cars; and elegant passenger trailers. Amenities included leather-covered seats, overhead racks, and even a toilet and drinking fountain.
This “Main line” ran from the Portland North Bank Depot at NW 11th and Hoyt Street in downtown Portland – now luxury condominiums. From downtown, the route made many stops on the way to Multnomah Village. It came down what is now Multnomah Blvd to a station located at the current site of John’s Market on the Northwest corner of SW 35th and Multnomah Blvd. The next station Shahapta, was just west of Gabriel Park, and then came Kusa, for the Kusans; Athapascans settled on the Siletz reservation. In 1911 it was renamed Maplewood after developers began planting Norway maples along the streets. You can still see them today. According to Multnomah Historical Society, the Oregon Electric Railroad policy was to name stations after Native American tribes.
The electric train continued on, making its way west and then south to many other stations, with a branch to Forest Grove via Beaverton and Hillsboro, and another to McMinnville. The main line ran through Salem and all the way to Eugene. A one way trip from Portland and Salem was $1.50. As many as eight trains made the trip every day. Even sleeping cars were available, but there was only one problem – the trip to Eugene wasn’t long enough for them to be needed, but the railway wanted the income from the higher cost berths. To solve the problem, the train would pull off onto a spur and stop for seven hours before proceeding the rest of the way to the southern terminus.
The store and post office was originally built just west of the Oregon Electric Railway station. The tracks came down the curve of Maplewood road and crossed the ravine on a long wooden trestle where Woods Creek flows today. The station was originally located on the south side of Maplewood road but was later moved directly across the street on the north side, towards the school.
As you face Maplewood Coffee & Tea, look left and notice a ridge between the present-day houses. The Oregon Electric train tracks came down the long, lazy curve of what is today Maplewood Road and crossed the ravine on a large wooden trestle where Woods Creek flows today. You can see an interesting picture of the bridge here on the Multnomah Historical Society website. Unfortunately, time moved on, and all passenger service ended in 1933.
The Green Store closed in 1976 and was converted to a residence. In 2012, it was purchased by Jo Whitsell who wanted to create a neighborhood meeting place. She specializes in locally roasted coffee, Portland baked pastries from Pearl Bakery and New Cascadia vegan pastries as well as other local Portland products. In 2017 the coffee house expanded with a new kitchen which allows them to serve full meals.