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MONTEITH Historic District
This is an aerial view of Monteith Historic District in  1978. Photo: George A. McMath.

Working on the Past in Local Historic Districts
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Located in the western portion of downtown Albany, the Monteith Historic District is comprised of 50 blocks of primarily one and two story wood frame residences built between 1849 and 1915. This is an image of the Marshall House in Monteith Historic District. Photo: Robert Potts, Albany Visitors Association.

Community History

Local pioneers and the first frame house. The Monteith District, located on the West Side of downtown Albany, is named after Walter and Thomas Monteith, the founding fathers of Albany. After arriving in Oregon from New York in 1847, the brother’s Monteith bought squatter’s rights to a claim held by Hiram Smead for $400. They named the city “Albany,” in remembrance of their hometown in New York. Soon, the brothers had completed the first frame house in Albany in 1850 “making use of the first cutting from Albany’s first sawmill.” They opened a General Store in the West parlor.

This is an image of Walter Monteith. Photo: Courtesy, Monteith Historical Society. This is an image of Thomas Monteith. Photo: Courtesy, Monteith Historical Society.
Walter and Thomas Monteith (left to right) between 1875-1885 (Below) The earliest extant photo of their house from 1912.  
This is the earliest extant photo of the Monteith House, from 1912. Photo: Courtesy, Albany Regional Museum.  

Over the years, the Monteith House served various uses, including a boarding house, meetinghouse, military headquarters, a storehouse, and still later, a private residence again. Albany’s first indoor sermon was preached in the house, Indian treaties were signed there and, in 1856, political leaders met there to establish the Oregon Republican Party.

Business, education, politics. In 1851, the Monteiths built the Magnolia Flouring Mills along the Calapooia River. With the mill in operation, the first boat ever to travel the upper Willamette River, the "Multnomah", arrived in Albany, thereby increasing Albany's shipping potential for the manufacturing and farming industries. Other businesses soon followed. By 1878, downtown Albany boasted grocers, dry-goods stores, a wagon dealer, cigar stores, butchers, livery stables, a tailor, a "shaving salon," shoe stores, a printer, saloons, hotels, an agricultural implement dealer, and a furniture dealer who doubled as an undertaker. The Monteith brothers also figured prominently throughout the early history of Albany as supporters of higher education. In 1854, Thomas Monteith donated seven acres for the Albany Academy, which ultimately became Lewis and Clark College after the campus moved to Portland in the 90s.

National Register listing. The Monteith House was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It is also the historical centerpiece—or cornerstone—of the Monteith Historic District, which was listed in the National Register in February 1980. In 1982, the restored Monteith House opened as a museum to interpret the importance of the Monteiths in the building of an entire community.

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