Oregon City Heritage Days partners with Portland Rose Festival
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Madisyn Montgomery, an Oregon City High School junior, recently received the royal treatment during her tour of the historic Holmes House.
Montgomery bested three other candidates to be named the 2017 Rose Festival Court's Metro East princess on March 22. On June 10, she could be the princess crowned as the Rose Festival Queen, in an event scheduled prior to the Grand Floral Parade.
Volunteers in 19th-century period dress surprised Montgomery during her visit to the Holmes House. The volunteers were members of the committee representing Oregon City in its larger role in the upcoming Rose Festival.
OCHS's marching band and flag team traditionally have performed in the Grand Floral Parade, but Montgomery is the school's first Rose Fest princess since 1916, when Rose (Uptegrove) Moody represented Clackamas County in the festival.
This year, Oregon City historians will ride a 1948 U.S. Park Service van in the parade. Also new this year, Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory and the Portland Rose Festival are sponsoring Oregon City Heritage Days June 23-24, when free admission will be offered at local historical tourist attractions.
Start your day at 10 a.m. at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, 1726 Washington St. Coach transportation will offer free tours to the Ermatinger House, Holmes House, Stevens-Crawford House, McLoughlin House, Barclay House, Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Museum of the Oregon Territory and Mountain View Cemetery.
It was appropriate that Montgomery celebrated the partnership between the Rose Festival and Oregon City history buffs at the Holmes House, also known as the Rose Farm. Inaugural ceremonies for the first Oregon Territory governor, Gen. Joseph Lane, were held at the Holmes House, which became known to locals as the Rose Farm due to all the roses Mary Holmes planted around it. Completed in 1847, the Holmes House is the oldest American home in Oregon City.
Tennessee native William Livingston Holmes arrived in Oregon with his wife, Mary, via a wagon train in 1843. After a trip down the Columbia River in a canoe, they settled at what is now 536 Holmes Lane, on their Donation Land Claim of 640 acres. Oregon City historian Wendell Baskins told Montgomery that it was unlikely Mary Holmes brought roses with her via wagon and canoe, but she clearly loved her roses and soon developed quite a collection.
"If she could have brought rose stock, she would have," Baskins said. "A lot of the early roses came out of this site, and it is the first original homestead recorded at the Oregon City office."
Baskins and the other volunteer historical guides are passionate about telling Montgomery and others the story of Oregon City. As the end of the Oregon Trail, Oregon City's story is at the heart of the state's history.
Marge Harding told Montgomery a story about a child who had been friends with Dr. John McLoughlin, the "Father of Oregon." When the child, Josephine Hunsaker, died in 1852 of typhoid fever, she was buried at Mountain View Cemetery. While she was sick, McLoughlin cut her a rose that eventually took root and thrived at her grave and is now a historic heirloom variety, Josephine's Rose. Twenty-seven types of roses are available for viewing at the Rose Farm, and more types of roses around the Holmes House are planned.
Asked to reflect on her surprise visit to the Holmes House, Montgomery invited everyone in the Portland metro area to participate with her in Oregon City Heritage Days, where organizers hope to raise the profile of the city's historical tourism throughout the region.
"I feel very humble, and I've discovered a lot of rich history here that hopefully many more people will find out about, too," she said.
Elected as her class president, Montgomery has been an active community volunteer even before she began high school. A Girl Scout for the past 10 years, she volunteers at Youthline, a crisis hotline for teens. Then as an OCHS sophomore, she was named a Pamplin Media Group Amazing Kid for starting Continue to Find Kindness, a nonprofit organization that combats bullying.
"At the age of 11 I was inspired to help young girls recognize bullying, resolve bullying and revolutionize kindness," Montgomery said. "To date, my board of nine girls and I have currently spoken to — and educated — more than 1,000 students. Our goal is to help prepare, solve and sustain friendships. I'm proud of my passion for beginning and growing a solution to tackle a phenomenon I found within my community and others in founding CTFK."
After graduation, Montgomery hopes to attend Stanford University where she can explore business and the arts.
Oregon City Heritage Days
What: Free tours of Oregon City's historic tourist attractions
When: 10 a.m. June 23-24
Where: Start your day at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, 1726 Washington St., and take free coach transportation to the Ermatinger House, Holmes House, Stevens-Crawford House, McLoughlin House, Barclay House, Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Museum of the Oregon Territory and Mountain View Cemetery.
More: For information, call 503-650-1851.
Rose (Uptegrove) Moody was the first Oregon City High School student to be selected as a Rose Festival princess in 1916.