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David T. and Nan Wood Honeyman House, Portland, Oregon, c1909: home of progressive leader and reformer Nan Wood Honeyman, the first woman from Oregon to serve in the U.S. Congress

Photograph courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No 35935, #1822
David T. and Nan Wood Honeyman House
Portland, Oregon

Nan Wood Honeyman (1881-1970) was a progressive local and national leader for the Democratic party and of Prohibition reform. Her home on Prospect Drive in Portland, Oregon, was the fundamental base and backdrop for her social and political work from the 1920s to 1953. The oldest of five children, Nan was the daughter of Charles Erskin Scott Wood and Nanny Moale Smith. Nan learned progressive politics from her father, a celebrated soldier, lawyer, explorer, poet and artist. As a lawyer, C. E. S. Wood was a champion of labor and progressive reform. Among his many clients was Margaret Sanger, whom he defended when she was arrested for lecturing in Portland about birth control.

Nan attended school in Portland and at the Finch School in New York where she met life-long friend Eleanor Roosevelt, who in later years was a frequent quest at the Honeyman's Portland home. In 1907, Nan married David Taylor Honeyman, vice-president and treasurer of the largest hardware store in Portland, the Honeyman Hardware Company. Construction on their Prospect Drive home began shortly thereafter. The Colonial Revival house was designed by David's brother-in-law, David C. Lewis, a native-Oregonian architect noted for his residential work. Finished in 1908, Nan Honeyman raised three children here with her husband, where she lived for half a century.

[Photo] Portrait of U.S. Representative Nan Wood Honeyman, 1939
Courtesy of Harris & Ewing; from the collection of the Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No. 011397

Honeyman had a long and active political career. During the 1920s she served as president of the League of Women Voters, state and national committeewoman for the Democratic party, and was elected president of the Oregon Division of the Women's National Organization for Prohibition Reform. This group, which sought an end to prohibition, was in opposition to their vocal and powerful rival, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. In 1933, she presided over the Constitutional Convention, which ratified the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition (the 18th Amendment), and was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. In 1936 she was elected to the United States House of Representatives and became the first woman to represent Oregon in Congress.

Once elected, Nan Wood Honeyman brought her daughter Judith with her to Washington, DC, while David remained in Portland to take care of the family business. During her two-year term, Honeyman was a strong supporter of the New Deal and served on the Irrigation and Reclamation Committee, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Rivers and Harbors Committee. Through her position on the latter committee, Honeyman supported the completion of the Bonneville Dam, was an outspoken advocate of the construction of transmission lines to carry power throughout the Pacific Northwest, promoted the development of the Port of Portland and the Columbia River as a major waterway, and worked to control pollution of that river and to protect the salmon fishing industry. Nan lost the subsequent elections of 1938 and 1940, and in 1941 filled a vacancy in the Oregon State Senate. In December of 1941, President Roosevelt nominated her for District 29 Customs Collector at Portland, a post which she held for 12 years. Following her husband's death in 1946, she continued to reside in their Prospect Drive home until 1959, when it was sold out of the family. Nan Wood Honeyman died at age 89, known as a woman of boundless energy, considerable charm and "endowed with a fine personality, unpretentious and magnetic, a woman of distinction whose interest in the problems of the day is sincere and friendly, who brings a fine intelligence to their consideration." (The Oregon Democrat, January 21, 1935

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