Grand Survivors in Astoria, Oregon

Article excerpt

Tour historic houses or spend the night in one

Four traders sent by John Jacob Astor set up shop here on the Columbia River in 1811. Eventually, Astoria, Oregon, was born, and it thrived as a coastal port from the mid-1800s to 1922, when a fire ravaged the downtown waterfront. Victorian homes uphill from the river escaped the blaze, and today these survivors serve as private residences, B & Bs, and repositories of the history of Astoria, the oldest English-speaking settlement west of the Mississippi.

Visitors to Astoria can easily spot one such survivor: the 1885 Flavel House, at Eighth and Duane streets, considered by many to be the finest example of Queen Anne architecture in Oregon. The red-roofed mansion was built by Captain George Flavel, a pioneer Columbia River bar pilot who kept watch on river traffic from the three-story octagonal turret atop his house. In 1935, Flavel's great-granddaughter donated the house to the town, and today it serves as a museum.

Since 1982, the Clatsop Historical Society has worked to refurnish the house as it was during Captain Flavel's time. The interior woodwork and much of the furniture are in the Eastlake style. In the grand hallway are paintings of the Columbia River by maritime artist Cleveland Rockwell. You'll also see paintings by Astoria native John J. Trullinger.

Flavel House is open 10 to 5 daily. Admission costs $5, $2.50 ages 6 through 12, and includes admission to the Heritage Museum. If you visit this month, you can have tea and scones in the dining room overlooking the rose garden. Tea will be served from 2 to 4 daily (except August 11); cost is $3 per person.

A block south of Flavel House is Franklin Avenue, with more than 20 historic houses along its eight blocks stretching east to Exchange Street. …