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Home > Cultural > History > History Organizations > Willamette Heritage Center

Willamette Heritage Center

The historic Thomas Kay Woolen Mill at the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem. (Scenic photo No. marDA0027a)

The historic Thomas Kay Woolen Mill at the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem. (Oregon State Archives Photo marDA0027a)

The Willamette Heritage Center (WHC) brings together Mission Mill Museum, established in 1964, and Marion County Historical Society, established in 1950. Both organizations were leaders in the preservation and interpretation of Mid-Willamette Valley history. The WHC continues on that tradition as it interprets the lives of the people who lived and worked in the Mid-Willamette Valley.


The five-acre campus is home to 14 historic structures that present the saga and richness of Oregon’s past. Buildings include the 1841 Jason Lee house, arguably the oldest standing wooden framed house in Oregon, and the 1896 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, one of the best-preserved Victorian-age factories in the West and designated an
American Treasure by the National Park Service.


Permanent exhibits at WHC explore pre-Oregon Trail pioneer life in the Willamette Valley, reflect on life in the industrializing Northwest, present the story of the Kalapuya and discuss the import of agriculture in the Willamette Valley. Changing exhibits will tell the many different histories found throughout the region. The Research Library at WHC holds valuable photographs, records and documents that are centered on Marion County. The center offers beginning and advanced classes in various fiber arts through its Textile Learning
Center. WHC hosts educational programs and events year-round. These include Sheep to Shawl, held the third Saturday in May, honoring the agricultural heritage of the Valley, and Magic at the Mill, held December 19th to 23rd, which celebrates the holidays with lights, music and activities.


WHC is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Research Library is open Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday by appointment.


Bob H. Reinhardt, Executive Director
Address: 1313 Mill St. SE, Salem 97301
Phone: 503-585-7012
Fax: 503-588-9902