by: PHOTO COURTESY CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY - Charlie Couckuyt and Nolan Fugitt (right) act as docents at the Stevens-Crawford Heritage House in Oregon City. Sleighs and sleighbells are the theme of this year’s Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Stevens-Crawford Heritage House in Oregon City.

This local tradition does more than welcome in the cheer of the season: it is both entertaining and educational.

The historic Stevens-Crawford Heritage House will be festively decorated for the season by several local garden clubs and volunteers. Complimentary homemade cookies, punch and coffee will be served all day, accompanied by live musical entertainment and a holiday raffle. Friendly docents in period costume will be on hand to explain and demonstrate the home’s unique history and contents.

On the first Saturday of every December, visitors are invited to step back in time in this fully furnished, expansive home of one of Oregon’s earliest Territorial families.

Children and adults will enjoy the home’s fine workmanship, gaslights, working telegraph, Victrola, hand-powered washing machine, stereoscopic viewers, antique kitchen tools, kerosine curling iron, and other obsolete novelties and necessities. Some were brought over the Oregon Trail, and others were the treasures collected by the prosperous Stevens-Crawford Family over more than a century.

The Stevens-Crawford House was built in 1908 by the German-born Vondereh Brothers, for Mr. and Mrs. Harley Stevens. With more than a dozen rooms and more than 7,000 square feet, it is a monument to Classical Box architecture. In 1862, Harley Stevens came west as a member of the Emigrant Escort Service, an agency created by Congress to protect travelers on the Oregon Trail. He was only 15.

After settling in Oregon, Stevens took a correspondence course in Morse code. He became the first telegraph operator in Oregon City, and later an O&C Railroad Station Agent. He married Mary Elizabeth Crawford, the daughter of Medorum Crawford, a prominent early Oregon settler. Medorum had traveled on the first wagon train to the State in 1842, and on that journey met his wife Adeline Brown. They had a large family after settling on a 640-acre land claim near Dayton, Oregon.

Crawford served as Oregon House representative from Yamhill County, and was appointed head of the Emigrant Escort Service in the 1860s, when his future son-in-law Harley volunteered as an earnest teenage escort over the perilous, 2,000-mile journey. It was Harley and Mary’s daughter, Mertie Stevens, who deeded the home and its remarkable contents to the Clackamas County Historical Society upon her death in 1968.

The Stevens-Crawford Heritage House’s normal hours of operation are Thursday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., with final tours at 3:30 p.m.

It will be closed from Dec. 16 to Feb. 6 for annual renovations. Admission and tours are free through the end of the year. Call 503-655-2866 for more information, or visit

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