McLoughlin House National Historic Site

Oregon City, Oregon

Unfortunately, I was not able to retrieve the photos before GeoCities ceased to exist.
Photo of McLoughlin House National Historic Site from the street, 713 Center Street. According to a brochure received at the site, 'The McLoughlin House reflects the story of Dr. John McLoughlin, the Chief Factor (President) of the Hudgon's Bay Company at Ft. Vancouver, and later the owner of Oregon City. McLoughlin offered aid to the American pioneers who often arrived at the Fort, destitute and in need of assistance to survive their first winters in Oregon. Dr. McLoughlin, disobeying orders from his British employer, proved to be one of the greatest humanitarians ever to live in the West. His home features many of his original furnishings.'
In 1909 the long-neglected former McLoughlin home was threatened with demolition. Instead, it was saved by moving it up Singer Hill to McLoughlin Par, and later it was opened to the public in 1910. The side facing the river in this photo was actually the front side of the house; whereas the side facing the street (which the public sees upon arrival to the site) is the former back side of the house.

The marker in front of the site reads:
National Historic Site
In the city he founded
In this house he built, lived
Dr. John McLoughlin, 1846-57.
He won enduring fame
For his generous and humane aid
To early American settlers
In the Oregon Country.
As Chief Factor and Superintendent
Of the Hudson's Bay Company
In the Territory, 1824-1845.
In 1850 Dr. McLoughlin presented
This park to Oregon City.
In 1851 he became a citizen
Of the United States.
His house, which originally
Stood closer to the river, was
Removed to this location in 1909.
Erected 1950 National Park Service
United States
Department of the Interior

Gravesite of Dr. John McLoughlin and his wife, Margaret
The grave of Dr. John McLoughlin says he died Sept 3, 1857, Aged 73 years

The curator of McLoughlin House, Nancy Wilson
I talked with Nancy and had her sign the book that she wrote.
She told me that she was inspired to write her book about John McLoughlin after she had a 'sign' in the form of a 'white eagle' that appeared to her. She is standing in front of the Barclay House, 719 Center Street, which serves as a visitor center and gift shop. The brochure says that 'the Barclay House, originally only six rooms, tells of a Hudson's Bay Company physician who chose to leave his position at Ft. Vancouver and follow Dr. McLoughlin to Oregon City. Barclay became a pillar in the community, working in government, with the school system, and as the doctor and coroner.'

Cannon, which is located behind the McLoughlin House

Post Card of John McLoughlin, 'Father of Oregon', 1784-1857, Chief Factor of Fort Vancouver and manager of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department from 1825-1846. He established Fort Vancouver in 1825. Known for his kindness and generosity to American settlers who emigrated to the Oregon Country in the 1840's. He retired from active service in the Hudson's Bay Company in 1846, and moved to Oregon City where he died in 1857.

Post Card of the dining room of the McLoughlin House - the home of the 'Father of Oregon' - features furnishings from the period of the fur trade and the early settlement of Oregon.

Wallpaper border design located in the parlour of McLoughlin House

The McLoughlin House brochure provided courtesy of the National Park Service. The picture is a painting of Oregon City in 1852, by John Mix Stanley. The McLoughlin home is behind the church (center left). Amon Carter Museum

Visit the McLoughlin House Web Site (listed on brochure):
McLoughlin House National Historic Site

1. Dr. John McLoughlin: Master of Fort Vancouver, Father of Oregon
by Nancy Wilson
Curator, McLoughlin House
National Historic Site -- Oregon City
Bert Webber, Editor
Webb Research Group Publishers
Books About the Oregon Country
Copyright 1994 by Nancy Wilson

2. Young Mac of Fort Vancouver
by Mary Jane Carr
Illustrated by Richard Holberg
Thomas Y - Crowell Company, NY
Copyright 1940 by Mary Jane Carr
[Juvenile Literature, Historical Fiction]
The book-jacket has the following synopsis of the book:
Just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, is the city of Vancouver, Washington. Fort Vancouver, the principal western post of the great fur trading Hudson's Bay Company of England, stood in territory which both the United States and England were claiming. Here Dr. John McLoughlin, a man big in soul and body, governed not only the fort and fur traders but the thousands of Indians who made up the population of the then uncivilized country. They called him Great Tyee, Great Chief.
It was to this fort that Henri LeGrand, the voyageur, brought young Donald MacDermott to place him under the guidance of the great White-headed Eagle. Although he missed his mother, White Cloud of the Crees, young Mac lived by the voyageur creed: "Keep a high heart!" He didn't like school, but he went--to the first school west of the Rockies; he had wonderful rides on Bluebelle; he went with George Allan on his rounds to visit the sick Indians; he rescued Mia from the tribe that held the little girl captive; and then he, himself, was seized by Three Gulls, the medicine man with the tomaniwas eye. It took a good deal of courage to be worthy of the Northman feather, but Young Mac was worthy.
This is a story about the typical sons of the fur trade, whose fathers were traders and whose mothers were Indian women.

Disclaimer: The Contents of the McLoughlin House brochure (distributed by the National Park Service) is here reproduced for educational purposes only.

John McLoughlin retired to the home he built at the falls of the Willamette River after directing the fur trade at Fort Vancouver through its first and most influential two decades. He had come to the Northwest to turn the bounty of the land into profit for the Hudson's Bay Company, to promote British interests in the vast wilderness. McLoughlin's domain extended from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from Russian-held Alaska to the northern border of Mexican California--a chunk of land equal to about one-fifth of today's continental United States. By the time his career ended, he was famous for his efforts, intentional or not, in securing most of that territory for Americans.

Born into a Quebec farming family in 1784, McLoughlin was 19 when he signed on as a physician for the North West Company. He soon worked his way up to company partner. After the merger with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, McLoughlin was sent to the Oregon Country to preside over the vast wilderness on which the organization pinned its hopes for expansion. As chief factor (superintendent of trade), McLoughlin oversaw the construction of the new headquarters at Fort Vancouver, promoted agriculture, opened new trapping routes, and took in an impressive profit. In transacting business with the Indians, key players in the fur trade, he kept the peace and won respect.

Successful as it was, the Hudson's Bay Company operated without clear title to the land. The Oregon Country was caught in a tug of war between Britain and the United States. An 1818 treaty settled the dispute temporarily by establishing joint occupation. Thereafter both sides maneuvered to be in a position of strength when the treaty was renegotiated. McLoughlin foresaw that Britain's dominance of the region, based as it was on control of the fur trade, was doomed in the long run. The fur supply was dwindling as was demand. Emigrant wagon trains were moving in; thousands of American farmers clearing plots would inevitably tip the balance of power. Defying company orders to discourage American settlement, McLoughlin extended credit for food, seeds, and farm tools to the newcomers, then steered them southward into the Willamette Valley. He came to be regarded by the emigrants as a paternalistic figure who would never turn away those in need. One transplanted Pennsylvanian's gratitude was typical: "He is always on the lookout for an opportunity to bestow his charity, and bestows with no sparing hand."

Though genuinely kindhearted by all accounts, McLoughlin also had practical reasons for his open-handedness. Ill treatment of weary, impoverished new arrivals would reflect badly on the fur men. Moreover, if the Oregon Territory were divided along the course of the Columbia, as many predicted, the land to the south would cede to the United States no matter what. While the Hudson's Bay Company asserted its claim to the territory, reported one British observer, "it appears that their chief officer on the spot was doing all in his power to facilitate the operations of those whose whole object was to annihilate that claim altogether." Gov. George Simpson, the top Hudson's Bay official in North America and an old rival of McLoughlin's, battled continually with the chief factor. In 1845 McLoughlin was forced to resign. The following year the Oregon Country was divided along the 49th parallel. The company continued to trap and trade south of the boundary for 14 years, but British notions of acquiring the land permanently were squelched.

Fort Vancouver (combined with painting found at Yale University, Beinicke Rare Book and Manuscript Library):

The Hudson's Bay Company wanted furs and land, and the Columbia watershed offered both. John McLoughlin's first task as administrator of company holdings in the Oregon Country was to construct a headquarters from which the company could conduct its business of marketing the regions natural wealth. Fort Vancouver, named for the British captain who explorer the Columbia River, was built on that river near the mouth of the Willamette. Living quarters, factory, storage depot, and seaport, Fort Vancouver was hub of the Northwest Coast fur trade during its heyday in the early 1800s. By 1845, when this painting was made, Fort Vancouver's location near the end of the Oregon Trail placed it squarely in the path of American westward expansion. Its role in shaping Oregon's destiny had changed. Emigrants stopped here on their way to claim farmland in the Willamette Valley. At this British outpost, Chief Factor McLoughlin gave supplies and encouragement to the people he came to view as the rightful possessors of much of the Oregon Country.

McLoughlin House:
In 1829, Chief Factor McLoughlin and Governor Simpson claimed land along the Willamette River 25 miles south of Fort Vancouver. The acquisition was part of Hudson's Bay Company strategy to diversify in the face of a limited fur supply. McLoughlin envisioned a company town as the center for subsidiary industries. The falls were ideal for powering mills and the river was a convenient water route for shipment of manufactured goods and agricultural products. McLoughlin retired from the company before he could fully implement his plans. He placed the land in his own name in 1845 by paying the company $20,000 for the claim and constructed his family home on a piece of this property.

Simple in design, with two stories and a root cellar, the house was elegant for the Willamette Valley, where most emigrant families lived in crude log cabins. It was built completely of finished lumber--local timber and prefabricated trim shipped from a Boston factory. The first floor consisted of a large parlor, a dining room, a reception room, and McLoughlin's office. Upstairs were three bedrooms, as well as a sitting room and a hallway that often doubled as a guest room. The kitchens were separate buildings out back. The McLoughlin home was known locally as the "house of many beds," a reference to the hospitality the family extended to just about anyone passing through Oregon City. The steady stream of house guests included relatives, friends, business associates, new emigrants, a traveling artist, and a good many retired Hudson's Bay Company employees to whom McLoughlin felt a special responsibility. McLoughlin's wife Marguerite opened her home to the needy and was thought of as "one of the kindest women in the world." Other permanent residents were daughter Eloisa and her family, and the Indian servants who had been in McLoughlin's employ at Fort Vancouver.

Known throughout the valley as the Doctor because of the vocation that had started him out in the fur trade, McLoughlin built himself a new career promoting the economic prosperity of the territory he had helped to establish. In part to smooth over a controversy arising from an American claim to his property at the falls, McLoughlin took U.S. citizenship in 1851. That year he served as mayor of Oregon City. A supporter of small business as a means for helping emigrants become established, McLoughlin loaned money for commercial ventures and himself owned two sawmills, a grist mill, a granary, a general store, and a shipping concern. He also donated land for schools and churches. John McLoughlin died in 1857. His house now occupies one of the sites he set aside for public use when he helped to plat [i.e. map out] the town in the 1840s. The home is restored to honor the life and accomplishments of a man well deserving of the title "Father of Oregon."

About Your Visit:
John McLoughlin lived in this house from the time he left the Hudson's Bay Company in 1846 until he died in 1857. After the death of Marguerite McLoughlin the home changed hands many times. In 1909 the McLoughlin Memorial Association saved the house from demolition and moved it from the falls up to the bluff overlooking the river.

Today the house is restored as nearly as possible to its appearance during the McLoughlin occupancy. Furnishings are period pieces that belonged to the McLoughlin family, the Hudson's Bay Company, and local residents.

Visiting the house:
Tours are conducted Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. The house is closed on Mondays, holidays, and for the month of January. The home is not fully accessible to the disabled. There are no restrooms.

The house stands in McLoughlin Park at 713 Center St. between 7th and 8th Sts. It is fewer than 4 blocks east of Pacific Highway (U.S. 99) and about 9 blocks from I-205.

Related sites:
The neighborhood surrounding the house is a local historic district and part of McLoughlin's original plat. At 719 Center St. is the home of Dr. Forbes Barclay, an associate of McLoughlin's. McLoughlin's step-granddaughter and her husband lived in the Ermatinger House. The first territorial legislature met in the late 1840s at Rose Farm, 536 Holmes Lane. Local Indian Culture and Oregon history are exhibited at the Stevens-Crawford House (County Museum) and End of the Oregon Trail center.

McLoughlin House National Historic Site is administered by the McLoughlin Memorial Association, the city, and the National Park Service. Write:
Curator, McLoughlin House NHS
713 Center St.
Oregon City, OR 97045
Phone: (503) 656-5146