Where We Live: The John McLoughlin House

John McLoughlin is known as the father of Oregon

John McLoughlin is known as the father of Oregon. (Courtesy photo)
John McLoughlin is known as the father of Oregon. (Courtesy photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Most of us have traveled McLoughlin Boulevard between Portland and Oregon City. It’s named for the founder of Oregon City and the man many call the father of Oregon.

Where he lived tells an important story about where we live.

On Center Street in Oregon City, the John McLoughlin House gives us a window into one of the most important men in Oregon history.

John McLaughlin is known as the father of Oregon. (Courtesy photo)
John McLoughlin is known as the father of Oregon. (Courtesy photo)

“This house was always very popular,” Park Ranger John Salisbury said. “You had to be important to be invited here.”

Doctor John McLoughlin was born in Quebec, hired by Britain’s Hudson’s Bay Company in 1824 to run Fort Vancouver, a critical outpost for the world’s fur trade.

“The Hudson’s Bay Company provided furs for the gentry back in England,” Salisbury said.

Despite his wealth ans success, McLoughlin fell out of favor with the British for helping hundreds of early American pioneers arriving on the Oregon Trail. It’s why he’s known as the father of Oregon.

“They called him a traitor,” Salisbury said. “He gave them supplies and credit and sent them down to Oregon City. He founded this community.”

McLoughlin bought the Hudson’s Bay Company’s land claim near Willamette Falls and moved his family to Oregon in 1845, a year after Oregon City became the first incorporated U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1851, 6 years before he died, and his home eventually became a hotel and a boarding house.

“And then it became known as a house of nighttime pleasure and negotiable affection,” Salisbury said.

Mired in disrepair, the McLoughlin House was saved by residents and moved away from the river in 1906. Now it’s a National Park, preserved much as it looked in the 1800s. Many furnishings and possessions actually belonged to McLoughlin .

You used to be able to tour the house 5 days a week, but budge cuts have reduced that to just Fridays and Saturdays.

The McLoughlin House is a National Park. (Courtesy photo)
The McLoughlin House is a National Park. (Courtesy photo)