Cornelius, Or Custom Home Builder

by Delahunt Custom Homes

Cornelius is a city in Washington CountyOregonUnited States. Located in the Portland metropolitan area, the city’s population was 12,147 the 2010 census. The city lies along Tualatin Valley Highway between Forest Grove to the west and Hillsboro to the east. Cornelius was incorporated in 1893 and is named for founder Thomas R. Cornelius.

History for Cornelius, Or Custom Home Builder

In 1845, Benjamin Cornelius immigrated to Oregon with his family, traveling with Joseph Meek. The Cornelius family settled on the Tualatin Plains, near what is now North Plains. The same year, Benjamin Q. Tucker and Solomon Emerick staked land claims and established farms on the land that would eventually become Cornelius. At that time, the area was called Free Orchards; there was no actual community, but the name referred to the orchards on the 107 acres of land.

In 1871, Benjamin Cornelius’s son Colonel Thomas R. Cornelius learned that Ben Holladay planned to extend the Oregon and California Railroad right through Free Orchards. Holladay had been told by Forest Grove and Hillsboro that they would not allow the railroad free right-of-way, so Holladay planned to bypass them, and build Free Orchards into a new city that would become the new county seat of Washington County.

The new railroad was approaching Free Orchards in 1871, and Cornelius saw an opportunity to benefit from the new railroad. He left his farm and built a new house, a warehouse, and a store in Free Orchards. The warehouse and store were located right next to the railroad, and so became natural places for local farmers to trade and store their goods. Cornelius also built a creamery to process milk, and two sawmills to supply lumber for the growing community. In addition, he helped to build the first frame schoolhouse and the Methodist Church.

In 1893, Free Orchards was incorporated and renamed “Cornelius”, to honor the man who spent many years helping build the community. Though Holladay’s plan to make Free Orchards into the county seat never materialized, Cornelius survives today as an agricultural town and, increasingly, as a suburb of Portland. The Cornelius Public Library was founded in 1912.


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 11,869 people, 3,339 households, and 2,666 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,905.0 inhabitants per square mile. There were 3,499 housing units at an average density of 1,740.8 per square miles. The racial makeup of the city was 64.0% White, 1.2% African American, 1.3% Native American, 2.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 27.2% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 50.1% of the population.

There were 3,339 households of which 51.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.1% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 7.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 20.2% were non-families. 14.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.51 and the average family size was 3.88.

The median age in the city was 30.4 years. 32.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 30.6% were from 25 to 44; 20.5% were from 45 to 64; and 6.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.1% male and 48.9% female.

Schools near Cornelius, Or Custom Home Builder

In 1851, the Cornelius Elementary School District 2 was founded. The Cornelius district was dissolved in 1960, with the western parts of the enrollment area going to the Forest Grove district and the eastern part going to the Hillsboro districts.


The Cornelius Library has served the community for over 100 years. We are a small neighborly library with about 20,000 items. We share books with WCCLS and millions of items can be delivered here free for you to pick up.We specialize in programs for all family members and have a nice children’s area with lots of books and toys. We also have the largest percentage of bilingual/Spanish items in WCCLS libraries, and plenty of bilingual staff to offer support.


During summer months, visitors can pick strawberries, lavender, lilies, dahlias, gladiolas and a host of other floral varieties at local farms.  Family-owned farms are well known throughout the area for plump, delicious berries, which sell at area farmers’ markets and grocery stores, as well as on some farms.  If golf is your game, play a round at Forest Hills Golf Course. Built in 1927, Forest Hills is a challenging course with 18 holes of rolling terrain among scenic farmlands.

Shop at Cornelius, Or Custom Home Builder

Oregon produces 99 percent of the nation’s hazelnuts (also known as filberts). At Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts, a co-op of Hazelnut Farmers of Oregon, shoppers are greeted with a variety of hazelnut products, including roasted, salted, hickory-smoked, chocolate-covered and fruit-flavored.


Situated in the Chehalem Mountains American viticultural area (AVA), Cornelius is also home to three wineries: Ardiri Winery and Vineyards, with spectacular views of the Tualatin Valley (in the northern Willamette Valley), A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery, one of the newest (and smallest) wineries in Oregon’s Washington County, and Gresser Vineyard, a small family-owned vineyard and winery.


There is a variety of small family owned restaurants offering Italian, barbecue, American and pub food. In addition, there is no shortage of great Mexican restaurants in Cornelius, and one stretch of road holds court.  Take a stroll down Adair Street and explore!

City Parks

  • Alpine Park 2500 S. Alpine St.
  • Veterans Memorial Park  1251 Baseline St
  • City Hall Park  107 N. 14th Ave.
  • Dogwood Park  700 S. 26th Ave.
  • Free Orchards Park  1493 S. Fawn St.
  • Harleman Park  795 S. Heather St.
  • Ryland Park  285 N. 31st Ave.
  • Steamboat Park  1356 S. 15th Ave.
  • Tarrybrooke Park  545 S. 4th Ave.
  • Water Park  1800 N. Barlow St.

Content above provided by Washington County Visitors Association.

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