View of Barclay House from Center Street (northwest perspective) with McLoughlin House shown to the south
Currently serving as the National Park Service’s administrative office for the Fort Vancouver – McLoughlin House Unit, the Dr. Forbes Barclay House shares more than proximity with its better-known neighbor (the McLoughlin House). The two structures not only housed important figures of the Hudson Bay Company, who then retired to Oregon City and contributed to the development of the town, their preservation and restoration are linked in several efforts of the New Deal era as well.
Built in 1849, the Barclay House is one of Oregon’s oldest examples of Classical Revival architecture. As such, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) funded local architects to document the house in 1934 as part of the first Historic American Building Survey (HABS). After restoration work began on the McLoughlin House, local preservationists seized the opportunity to save the Barclay House from a highway expansion project and restore it on park land adjacent to the older home. Consequently, preservation and landscape planning for the two structures were linked.
In 1936, the Classical Revival Cottage was moved to its site on Eighth and Center Street. Laborers from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted a complete renovation of the Barclay House, including the removal of a wing that had been added by the Barclay family in 1907. As the project architect Glen Stanton had said of work on the McLoughlin House, the intention of the Barclay House restoration was to “de-modernize” it and return it to its original external appearance. However, because it was to serve as the curator’s house for the McLoughlin House museum, it retained the plumbing and electrical improvements of the twentieth century.
Prior to its relocation to the park property, Barclay family members retained use of the house from its construction to 1936. Its original location was at Seventh and Main Streets, only a block away from the Territorial Government at the time. The Scottish-born Dr. Forbes Barclay had served as the physician for the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver for ten years before retiring to Oregon City in 1850. He then assumed an active public life as Clackamas County coroner, as a city school superintendent and as both a mayor of Oregon City and city councilman.
Long after his death, the family relocated the house in 1907 to a lot near Tenth and Center Streets and added to the cottage. Documentation for the historic register nomination indicates that the Barclay House is “the earliest identified example of the Classical Revival style in Oregon.” While few others remain, the one and a half story cottage represents a style choice popular among mid-nineteenth century settlers.
"Barclay House, Erected in 1849, To Be Moved to McLoughlin Park," Oregonian. November 22, 1936. p. 14.
"Faces and Places," Oregonian. November 27, 1938. p. 43.
Oregon City Planning website - National Register Documents (Visited August 2021). https://www.orcity.org/sites/default/files/fileattachments/planning/page/5733/719_center_street_barclay_house.pdf
Project originally submitted by Judith T Kenny on September 24, 2021.
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