Harlow House Museum
726 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR 97060 - United States
The Harlow House was built in 1900 on what was known as the “Harlow Farm” by Fred Harlow, son of Capt. John Harlow. Its orientation is toward an old wagon trail, now Robins Way, that goes up the hill to the west. The Columbia River Highway would not open until 1915.
Capt. John Harlow, a sea captain from Maine and a successful Portland businessman, bought his rural retreat on the Sandy River in the 1870s. His original home was a small, rambling house just north of the Harlow House. Utilizing springs from cliffs on the west side of the property, he built fish ponds and named his farm Troutdale. That home was torn down in the late 1920s. When the railroad was built from Portland through the Columbia River Gorge in 1882, a depot was established taking the name of Troutdale at the Captain’s insistence. In 1890 Harlow’s widow, Celestia, platted the Town of Troutdale where his sons, Fred and Louis, would own the store and the bank.
Fred Harlow and his family lived in this home until 1915. He and his wife, Minnie, had two daughters and a son. The boy died as a toddler. Daughter Lucile died in 1907 of typhoid fever. The surviving daughter, Harriett, grew up to dance the vaudeville circuit. Fred left the community in disgrace following the failure of the Harlow Bank.
The next family members to occupy the home, beginning in 1920, were Lou Harlow and his wife, Laura Bullock Harlow. He was the second mayor of the city and she was the second woman mayor to serve Troutdale. They had three sons, none of whom lived long. Jack died at age 18 of a brain tumor. Bob died at 26 of Hodgkin’s disease. Sam married and had two daughters, one of whom, Ginger Harlow Allen, is the family historian. Sam died at age 31.
The third residents of the home were Lee and Mabel Evans, former neighbors and good friends of the Harlows. They purchased the house in the 1940s making changes to the ground floor to accommodate Mabel’s grand piano as she was the town piano teacher. Music always filled this house. Laura Harlow sang at most weddings and funerals. Lee and Mabel Evans were said to be the best dancers in town “floating across the dance floor.”
The Troutdale Historical Society purchased the home in 1979 after the death of Mabel Evans. The tongue-and-groove interior is straight-grain old growth fir. The open ceiling beams are unusual in Oregon houses. The kitchen is remarkably unchanged. The fireplace ornamentation was made by Laura Harlow and her sons and means “Welcome.” The knoll on which the house stands kept it above the 1948 flood waters. The contents include household goods from both Harlow families as well as many items donated by residents of the area.
The home is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Harlow-Evans House. The grounds of the Harlow House are part of the City of Troutdale park system.
The home is adorned in period-style furnishings. Very little changes have made to this home. You get a real sense of how they lived in the early to mid 1900s. A new exhibit of WWII Nurses Uniforms will be on display for this event.
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