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1504 Elm Street

South Park House  c.1893

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This house lies with the "South Park Addition," which was the first expansion to the original Forest Grove plat. The land was added to the town in August of 1891. It was made up from land which was owned by Charles Keep and William and Mary Kane. This plat is located directly south of the original town plat, and the Clark National Register Historic District. 

While it has been long known as the Barnes House, it remains a mystery why this structure became associated with the bow-maker, Friend Barnes.  Barnes lived in a home on what is now 19th Avenue, where he made his world-famous bows.  Additionally, he does not appear in any city directories, censuses or in the line of title connected with this house.

For much of its early existence, the house was a rental property, and was owned by banks, realty companies or individuals who didn’t reside here.  It is believed that Charles Keep probably built it to serve as a symbol for the new South Park district, and the "South Park House" name best suits it. 

At the time that the South Park House was built in c.1893, Charles Keep had already built a home southwest of here on Block 13 which in many ways resembled this house.  The Block 13 house was occupied by the Reverend Clapp family and became known as “the house that the church ate” because the house was incorporated over time into the structure of a church, which was later built there.

Keep sold the South Park House in 1893 to Frank Davey. It was lived in by the Davey family until the following year when Davey sold it to E. W. Haines.  Haines, along with Charles Keep established the Bank of Forest Grove in 1889.  Haines held the title to this property for 20 months until he resold it in 1896.

The next owner Lavina Watt lived here for nearly 6 years before moving across the street to the new home she built there.

Other early owners were: 

The Agnete Staehr family – 8 years

Johanna Hills family – 4 years

Velma McConkie – 5 years

By 1923, Thomas Littlehales, who was a real estate investor, was the owner.   When he died in 1946, his daughter Winifred Littlehales inherited it and then sold it in 1947 to the Owen and Celia King family. 

In 1960 Celia King died and the house passed to her daughter Ruth King Draper.  During this time the home was known by the name “King’s Kastle” which was on a sign they had on the front of it.  Ruth sold “King’s Kastle'' in 1965 and moved to Grants Pass.  

The next owners were Ivan and Muriel Marble who dubbed the house “Marbles Mansion”. Over time, Ivan and Muriel had nine children.  Ivan was a skilled carpenter who owned Marble’s Cabinet Shop on the corner of 19th and Main Street in Forest Grove. At that same time he served as Chaplain for the Forest Grove Fire Department.  However, Ivan was probably best known for serving first as the pastor at the Banks United Methodist Church and then at the Gales Creek Church of God where he and his wife ministered for 42 years until his death in 1995.  

In 1999 the South Park House was sold to its latest owners Don and Carol O’Nion.  Over the years, multiple owners of this house have rented out rooms to students and others and the O’Nions have continued this tradition. To achieve this, they have done remarkable work in making repairs and upgrades to their home.  The house has had a new foundation, wiring, and plumbing.  The walls were stripped to the studs and they received new or restored windows, doors, moldings, stairs, and baseboards.  They converted a bedroom into a master bathroom and added an east gable to conform to the original house plan, and a north dormer was added over the den.

Friends of Historic Forest Grove has been fortunate to have been able to include this wonderful house on two home tours in the past, and we are grateful to Don and Carol O’Nion for allowing us to honor it.

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