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Willis, Judge William R., House - Roseburg, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 43° 12.467 W 123° 20.778
10T E 471868 N 4783947
Quick Description: This former residence still sits vacant along SE Rose St.
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 3/5/2016 8:32:05 PM
Waymark Code: WMQN1Z
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 0

Long Description:
The following verbiage (in various parts) is taken from the NRHP Nomination Form to describe this former residence's significance:

The Judge William R. Willis house is a well-proportioned example of the Bracketed Villa style of the 1370s and 1880s. It was for many years one of the finest residences in Roseburg, has a long history of public use, and is regarded as a local landmark.

The house was built in 1874 by William R. Willis, a successful lawyer and first Justice of the Peace in Douglas County. Willis was born in Ohio in 1825 and grew up in Illinois. He taught school for a while in Ohio and Illinois and then became a steamboat pilot on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. In 1853 he accompanied his mother to Oregon, taking a steamer from New York to the Isthmas of Panama and thence to San Francisco and Portland. Other members of the family took the land route across the great plains, and were met by Willis 1 father who had come to Oregon the previous year. William Willis raised stock for several years on a Donation Land Claim of 160 acres he took in 1854 south of Roseburg, and then was employed as a clerk in Roseburg before he was appointed Justice of the Peace. He was County Ju(4ge from 1860 to 1864, was admitted to the State Bar in 1864 and became a prominent attorney. Willis served many years on the Roseburg City Council and was Mayor for three terms.

President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes were overnight guests in the house in October, 1880, during a tour of the West, as suitable hotel accommodations were not available in Roseburg. Several of the Presidential party were also invited to dine there. One, Gen. W. T. Sherman, reportedly was not impressed with the menu. He ate little and when asked what he liked, grumped, "Hard tack and bacon."

The house was moved to its present site in 1910 and it served as the Roseburg City Library from 1924 until 1956... It now faces easterly in the middle of a block on a lot which provides an open green in the downtown district of the city where it was moved in 1910 from its original site facing northerly on the northeast corner of the same block... After an explosion heavily damaged the Roseburg City Hall in 1959, city offices were headquartered in the Willis house until 1973 when a new City Hall was completed next to it. The future of the house is at this time uncertain.

The house has been somewhat altered over the years. The pedimented window in the north, now east, front face has been removed and three windows have been added in the gable to illuminate the attic. One bay has been added to the front porch and..the original chamfered bracketed posts have been replaced with square tapered columns, and there is now a dormer in the south (formerly east) slope of the main volume. These and formerly mentioned alterations may have been effected when the house was placed on its present ashlar foundation or in 1924 when it became the Roseburg City Library. Further alteration and partitioning of the interior occured when the city occupied it as City Hall after the former city headquarters was destroyed in an explosion in 1959. Despite these alterations, the building is substantially original.

Street address:
744 SE Rose St.
Roseburg, OR

County / Borough / Parish: Douglas County

Year listed: 1975

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Person, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1850-1874

Historic function: Domestic, Education, Government

Current function: Vacant/Not In Use

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 1: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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