The Willamette Heritage Center offers special rates for adults, senior and student groups of 10 or more. Groups receive special docent led tours of the Early Settlement Houses, Thomas Kay Woolen Mill or both.
Creating a Community Tour
Visit our historic houses to explore and understand the history of the mid Willamette Valley from the Kalapuya to today.
The Lee House, built in 1841, is the oldest frame house still standing in the Pacific Northwest and was home to five Methodist Missionary families. Today the rooms are galleries telling their stories and explaining their legacy in the education and development of the Willamette Valley and Oregon.
The Methodist Parsonage, built in 1841, was built to house missionary individuals and families. Current exhibits explore the stories of the Kalapuya, women and children in the community and some of the people and institutions that have made Salem what it is today.
The Boon House, built in 1847, was home to the family of Oregon Trail emigrant John D. Boon, who served as Oregon’s Territorial Treasurer and later as Oregon’s first State Treasurer. Boon was a businessman in early Salem, influencing the development of the city’s transportation, communication and commerce. His home today completes the story of early Salem with a snapshot in time of 1847 Oregon.
Industry in Oregon tour
The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, founded in 1889 by Thomas Lister Kay, was one of numerous textile mills that operated throughout the Valley. These textile mills were critical components in Oregon’s economic stability. The Mill produced fine woolen blankets and fabric for more than seventy years and was managed by four generations of the Kay family – a legacy still perpetuated at the world-renowned Pendleton Woolen Mills, owned and operated by Kay’s descendants.
The Mill closed in 1962 and was subsequently purchased by the Mission Mill Museum Association, a private, non-profit organization formed in 1964. It is the only woolen mill museum west of Missouri and has one of the few water powered turbines in the Pacific Northwest that is still capable of generating electricity from the millrace. Displays of the original 19th and 20th century machinery illustrate industrial wool processing, and images throughout the Mill capture the stories of the lives of the individuals and families who worked at the Mill since its founding.