Howell House Collection, 1873-2005  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Howell House Collection
1873-2005 (inclusive)
4 linear feet, (4 boxes)  :  Additional oversize framed materials
Collection Number
Photographs, newspaper clippings, house records, and research files related to Howell House, a boarding house used at previous iterations of Western Oregon University located in Monmouth, Oregon.
Western Oregon University Archives
Hamersly Library
345 N. Monmouth Ave.
Monmouth, OR
Telephone: 503-838-8419
Fax: 503-838-8399
Access Restrictions

Collection is available for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for archival supplies made possible, in part, by a grant from the Polk County Cultural Coalition.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The John Howell family arrived in an 1843 wagon train via the Oregon Trail and settled in Howell Prairie, Oregon. A son, John W. Howell, was born in 1850. He married Sarah K. White in 1873. In 1890 they moved their family from Silverton to Monmouth so that their daughter Susan could attend Oregon State Normal School (now Western Oregon University.) That year John, a carpenter, built the Howell house, located at 212 Knox Street. The house displayed his craftsmanship abilities well and served as a form of advertising of his trade, since there was no newspaper in Monmouth until 1902. He later built several other historic homes in Monmouth including the Riddle House and the Graves-Fischer-Strong House.

In 1891, fourteen Oregon State Normal School male students rented rooms at Howell House and were fed by Sarah in the dining room on the first floor. When their daughter, Susan, finished her degree in 1893, she became house mother, where she managed all people coming in and out. The house continued to board primarily male students, with the exception of the war years when female students rented rooms.

In 1924, John W. Howell died at age 74. That same year, while remaining privately owned, the home was incorporated by the college as an official dorm with elected officers, known as Howell Hall. As one of the better places to live in Monmouth, rooms rented for the top amount of $6.00 per month and had a waiting list to live there. After John's death, his wife Sarah operated the house until 1942, when her daughter Susan took over full operations of the boarding house. The following year Sarah died, leaving Susan as proprietor and house mother until her death in 1962.

Between 1962 and 1984 the house was owned by numerous owners and was vacant part of the time. The City of Monmouth condemned the house and closed it in 1984. The house was purchased in 1986 by Clint and Sandra Boylan and restored the house to a bed and breakfast. They were able to keep most of the original trimmings including the original wall paper in the closets as a remembrance of the décor in the whole house. After restoration, the Boylan’s registered the Howell House on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. From 1988 to present the house has been open as a bed and breakfast under several owners, continuing the tradition giving temporary housing to persons visiting Monmouth.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains historical documents and artifacts found in the historic Howell House during a remodel in the 2000s. As both a local boarding house and a temporary dorm of Oregon Normal School, the many residents of Howell House are documented in these found materials. Documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, student correspondence, and other materials are included in the collection, as well as research materials about Howell House compiled by student interns in 2008.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

For further information, see the Western Oregon University Archives Research Rules.

Copyright Information: Researchers are hereby cautioned that materials within archival and manuscript collections may be protected by copyright laws (Title 17, U.S. code). Researchers who plan to eventually publish their work are responsible to inquire about publication restrictions before beginning their research. Researchers wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Preferred Citation

Howell House Collection, MSS 9, Western Oregon University Archives

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Boardinghouses
  • Dormitories
  • Oregon College of Education--History
  • Oregon Normal School--History
  • Oregon State Normal School--History
  • Western Oregon State College--History
  • Family Names :
  • Howell family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Monmouth (Or.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • Photographs