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Oregon Historic Sites Database

address:641 NW 4th St historic name:Gorman, Hannah & Eliza, House
Corvallis, Benton County current/other names:Polly, Peter, House
assoc addresses:
block/lot/tax lot:11/10, 1/2 of 11 / 2300
location descr: twnshp/rng/sect/qtr sect:11S 5W 35 DB
resource type:Building height (stories):1.5 total elig resources:1 total inelig resources:1
elig evaluation: eligible/significant NR Status: Individually Listed
prim constr date:c.1857 second date:c.1866 date indiv listed:02/24/2015
primary orig use: Single Dwelling orig use comments:
second orig use:
primary style: Gothic Revival prim style comments:
secondary style: Vernacular sec style comments:
primary siding: Horizontal Board siding comments:wood shiplap and clapboard; decorative shingles on south elevation
secondary siding: Shingle
plan type: Side Passage/Entry architect:Unknown
builder:Unknown
comments/notes:
Upright-and-wing form with early section (wing) constructed circa 1855; addition (upright) constructed circa 1866. Detached garage of 20th century construction.
Survey/Grouping Included In: Type of Grouping Date Listed Date Compiled
   African Americans in Oregon, 2014 Thematic Grouping
   Corvallis Central Multiple Neighborhoods Survey 2012 Survey & Inventory Project 2012
   Corvallis Downtown North Neighborhood Survey 2012 Survey & Inventory Project 2012
   Settlement-era Dwellings, Barns & Farm Groups the the Willamette Valley, Oregon Survey & Inventory Project 2013
NR date listed: 02/24/2015
ILS survey date:
RLS survey date: 02/27/2013
106 Project(s): None
Special Assess Project(s): None
Federal Tax Project(s): None
(Includes expanded description of the building/property, setting, significant landscape features, outbuildings and alterations)
The circa 1857-1866 Hannah and Eliza Gorman House is located at 641 NW 4th Street in Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon. Sited mid-block on a 75’ x 100’ city lot, the modest 925-square-foot building comprises two volumes built in two phases creating an upright-and-wing form with Gothic Revival stylistic influences. The earlier volume is the vernacular one-story, single-cell (one room) wing, built of stud-wall construction by or for the Gormans circa 1857. The Gothic Revival 1½-story front-gabled upright was built using the box construction method about 1866, and was attached to the north wall of the wing, creating the “upright-and-wing” building form seen today (Photo 1). A non-contributing, twentieth century garage is the only other building on the property. The site is simply landscaped with street trees, lawn, and foundation plantings. Although there have been some alterations to the building, most dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the house retains integrity from its period of significance, circa 1857 to circa 1866, in the areas of design, workmanship, feeling, location, and association. Integrity of location, design, feeling and association is high. In the area of workmanship, the building displays a surprising level of historical integrity that is visible in the spaces not ordinarily seen by a casual viewer, namely the building’s structural makeup, which is visible in the attic and storage spaces, and the substructure. In these areas the vernacular character of the building’s method of construction is intact and clearly evident. Some later nineteenth and twentieth century alterations, such as window and siding replacements, have somewhat impacted the building’s material integrity, but not to the degree that the building cannot convey its period of construction and significance. Its setting has evolved over 160 years, but remains residential in character. Overall, the Gorman house appears much as it did during the Gormans’ time of residence, retaining its historic mid-nineteenth century location, form, and plan, as well as a number of its original interior and exterior architectural features.
(Chronological, descriptive history of the property from its construction through at least the historic period - preferably to the present)
The circa 1857-circa 1866 Gorman House is locally significant under National Register Criterion A in the area of Exploration/Settlement as one of only a handful of pioneer-era houses remaining in the community of Corvallis. Once common in this urban setting, today only six settlement-era dwellings remain in the Corvallis city limits, and just fourteen survive throughout Benton County. The Gorman House is also significant at the statewide level under Criterion A in the area of Ethnic Heritage for its intimate association with Oregon’s black pioneer history. The house is the only identified extant residence in Benton County that was owned and occupied by former African American slaves who crossed the Oregon Trail during the settlement period. Further, current research suggests that it may be the oldest extant dwelling in Oregon that was originally owned, during the pioneer period, by African American overland emigrants. Having been freed from bondage, Hannah and Eliza Gorman, mother and daughter, both unmarried, purchased the property and built the subject house during a period in which Oregon’s exclusion laws prohibited African Americans from owning property. As such, the building stands as an important primary resource embodying the struggles and triumphs of African American pioneers during Oregon’s settlement period. Although not being nominated under Criterion C, the wing portion of the house may have significance architecturally as a rare surviving example—perhaps the only surviving Oregon example—of a house built by or for former slaves in the form common to slave housing in the Eastern States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Preliminary study suggests that the one-story portion of this building is similar in dimensions, form, and design features (such as window, door and fireplace elements) to the single-cell slave dwellings found in Missouri and states further east. The building is not currently being nominated under Criterion D in the areas of Exploration/Settlement, Ethnic Heritage or Archaeology, although the property appears to have the potential to yield information in these areas, specifically relative to the lives of Oregon’s early black pioneer residents—women in particular—during the pioneer period and the era of exclusion laws. Preliminary study of the property, including archival research and surface reconnaissance, suggests that there is reasonable probability that the site could yield information important to the early history of black pioneers in Oregon. This information is potentially archaeological and is also architectural, in that the form and structural makeup of the building itself may reveal information about building methods and architectural forms that migrated across the continent with African American pioneers. The period of significance of circa 1857-1875 reflects the initial construction date of circa 1857 (the one-story wing), embraces the second phase of construction in circa 1866 (the 1½-story upright), and closes with the sale of the property by Hannah Gorman to Peter Polly in 1875. The building is in fair condition, and retains sufficient historical integrity to convey its period of construction, essential historic appearance, and historical associations.
Title Records Census Records Property Tax Records Local Histories
Sanborn Maps Biographical Sources SHPO Files Interviews
Obituaries Newspapers State Archives Historic Photographs
City Directories Building Permits State Library
Local Library: University Library:
Historical Society:Benton County Historical Society Other Respository:
Bibliography:
Ancestry.com Accessed November 2013-June 2014. “Missouri Marriages to 1850.” “Compiled Census Index, 1841-1890.” U.S. Census Records, Polk and Benton Counties, Oregon. 1850-1880. Anderson, Martha. Black Pioneers of the Northwest 1800-1918. Martha E. Anderson, 1980. Bancroft, Hubert Howe. The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume XXIX, History of Oregon Volume I - 1834-1848. San Francisco: The History Company, Publishers, 1886. BlackPast.org. “The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed, “The Black Laws of Oregon, 1844-1857.” (Blackpast.org, 2007-2011). http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/black-laws-oregon-1844-1857 Accessed June 2014. Benton County Deeds & Records, Corvallis, Oregon. William and Julia Dixon to Eliza Gorman. Deed of Title, Lot 11 and 12, Block 11, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. April 27, 1857. Isaac Moore to Hannah Gorman. Deed of Title, ½ interest in Lot 5, Block 11, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. November 1, 1858. Weyman St. Clair to Hannah Gorman. Deed of Title, ½ interest in Lot 5, Block 11, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. November 1858. Louis Belfile to Eliza Gorman. Deed of Title, Lot 10, Block 11, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. May 4, 1866. Hiram Gorman to Hannah Gorman. Quit Claim Deed, Lots 10,11 & 12, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. March, 25 1875. Hannah Gorman to Peter Polly. Deed of Title, Lots 5,10,11,12, Dixon’s 2nd Addition. March, 30 1875. Benton County Historical Museum files. Benton County Historical Society. “Online Timeline.” http://www.bentoncountymuseum.org/timeline/print_timeline.cfm Accessed June 2014. Blaine, David. Letters and papers of Rev. David E. Blaine and his wife Catharine; Seattle, 1853-1856, Oregon, 1856-1862. Seattle: Historical Society of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Methodist Church, 1963. Bosco-Milligan Foundation. “Cornerstones of Community: Buildings of Portland’s African American History.” Portland, Oregon: Bosco-Milligan Foundation, August 1995. Carter, Liz. “Settlement-era Dwellings, Barns and Farm Groups of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, 1841-circa 1865.” National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, 2014. Chappel, Jill A., Robert R. Musil, and Kathryn Anne Toepel, Cultural Resource Survey and Evaluation of The Proposed AT&T Fiber Optic Cable Route, Linn and Benton Counties. (Heritage Research Associates Report No. 128, on file at the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, Salem, 1992) Corning, Howard McKinley. Willamette Landings: Ghost Towns of the River. (Portland, Oregon: Federal Writers' Project (Or.), Binfords & Mort for the Oregon Historical Society, 1947). Dasch, May D. “Hannah Gorman and Eliza J. Gorman: Early Afro-American Pioneers in Benton County, Oregon”, 2004, Benton County Historical Society, Benton County, Oregon. Dole, Philip, Papers. Un-catalogued collection, University of Oregon Special Collections. nd. Ellis, Clifton and Rebecca Ginsberg. Cabin, Quarter, Plantation: Architecture and Landscapes of North American Slavery. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. Evans, Elwood. History of the Pacific Northwest and Washington... Volume 2. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company, 1889. Fagan, David D. History of Benton County, Oregon: including its geology, topography, soil and productions, together with the early history of the Pacific Coast, compiled from the most authentic sources: a full political history ... incidents of pioneer life and biographical sketches of early and prominent Citizens, Portland: Oregon, D.D. Fagan, 1885). Flora, Stephanie. “Emigrants to Oregon in 1844.” Accessed January-May, 2014. Gallagher, Mary. Interview by Chris Ruiz, Philomath, Oregon. June 3, 2009. Gallagher, Mary Kathryn. “Historic Context Statement, City of Corvallis, Oregon.” City of Corvallis, August 1993. Gaston, Joseph. The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912. Portland: Oregon, S.J. Clarke, 1912. Genealogical Forum of Portland. Genealogical Material in Oregon Donation Land Claims. Portland, Oregon: Genealogical Forum of Portland, 1957. Hildebrand, Grant and Miriam Sutermeister. A Greek Temple in French Prairie: The William Case House, French Prairie, Oregon, 1858-59. Marion Dean Ross Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, 2007. Hill, Daniel G., Jr. “The Negro in Oregon, A Survey.” Master’s Thesis, University of Oregon Graduate School, 1932. Hill, Jobie. “Cox, Cora, House.” Draft National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 2012. Hines, Rev. H[arvey] K., D.D. An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon... Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1893. Hussey, J.A. Champoeg: Place of Transition. Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society, 1967. Johansen, Dorothy O. “The Role of Land Laws in the Settlement of Oregon,” Genealogical Material in Oregon Donation Land Claims, Volume I. Portland, Oregon: The Genealogical Forum of Portland, 1957. Lang, H.O. History of the Willamette Valley, Being a Description of the Valley and its Resources... Portland,Oregon: Geo. H. Himes, Book and Job Printer, 1885. Lyman, H.S. “Reminiscences of William M. Case,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 3 (September 1900), 269-195. Lyman, William Denison. History of the Yakima Valley, Washington... Volume 1. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1919. Martin, Bruce. “History of Corvallis, 1846-1900.” Master’s Thesis, University of Oregon Department of History, Eugene, 1938. Martin, Bruce. “History of Corvallis, 1846-1900.” Master’s Thesis, Department of History, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 1938. McArthur, Lewis A. and Lewis L. McArthur. Oregon Geographic Names. Portland: Oregon, Oregon Historical Society, Portland. 1974. McLagan, Elizabeth. A Peculiar Paradise, A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940. Portland: The Georgian Press, 1980. Nokes, R. Gregory. Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2013. O’Neil, Shirley H. Polk County Pioneers: Study of the Inhabitants Listed in the 1850 Federal Census of Polk County, Oregon. 2002. Oregon Historical Society. “The Fourteenth Amendment.” Accessed November 2013. Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers. Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon’s Marion and Polk Counties. Salem, Oregon: Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, 2011. Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. “Oregon Historic Sites Database.” Accessed January-May, 2014. Richard, K. Keith. “Unwelcome Settlers: Black and Mulatto Oregon Pioneers,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Spring 1983). -----. “Unwelcome Settlers: Black and Mulatto Oregon Pioneers, Part II” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 2 (Summer 1983). Ruiz, Chris and Liz Carter et al. “Hannah and Eliza Gorman House, Preliminary Study.” Unpublished report, November 2013. On file with authors. Salem Pioneer Cemetery. Online records, “Gorman, Hiram.” Accessed July 2013. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. “Corvallis, Oregon.” 1888, 1890, 1895, 1912, 1927, 1949. Available via Accessed January 2014. Taylor, Quintard. “Slaves and Free Men: Blacks in the Oregon Country, 1840-1860,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 2 (Summer 1982). Tenlen, Jenny. “The Immigration of 1844.” 2001-2007. Accessed January and May, 2014. United States Census Population Schedule. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records. Accessed via January and March, 2014. Polk County, Oregon. 1850. Benton County, Oregon. 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. United States General Land Office. Oregon Cadastral Maps, Township 9 South, Range 4 West. 1852 and 1860. Accessed via Bureau of Land Management “Land Records” website November 2013. University of Oregon Special Collections, Northwest Digital Archives Finding Aid. “Guide to the Theophilus Magruder v. Jacob Vanderpool Case Documents.” Accessed January and May, 2014. Vlach, John Michael. Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1993. Newspapers Corvallis Gazette. “The Obituary of Eliza J. Gorman.” Corvallis, Oregon: July 17, 1869. Ellensburg [Washington] Daily Record. “Links Traced in Thorp Family Chain.” April 30, 1968. Portland Morning Oregonian. “Death of a Pioneer Slave.” Portland, Oregon: July 3, 1888. Salem Oregon Statesman. “Obituary of Hiram Gorman.” Salem, Oregon: July, 24 1888. Waterman, Hazel. Portland Sunday Oregonian Magazine. “Twice Under the Cloud of Slavery.” Portland, Oregon: March 2, 1952. Interviews/Personal Communication Fuenfhausen, Gary. Personal communication with author, September 2013. Mr. Fuenfhausen specializes in the history and culture of southern Missouri. He is the president of the Missouri Little Dixie Heritage Foundation. and McGill, Joseph. Personal communication with author, 2012-2014. Formerly with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Joseph McGill is intimately familiar with slave housing through his work on the “Slave Dwelling Project,” an effort to elevate the visibility and importance of remaining slave dwellings in the U.S. Thorp, Randall. Personal communication with author, September 2013 and May 2014. Mr. Thorp is a descendant of Major John Thorp, with whom the Gormans traveled from Missouri to Oregon.