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Located On Eyrie Road

First in White Salmon, 'Overlook' house gains historical status

A White Salmon home that was built nearly 100 years ago has been listed on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places.

On May 22, the Governor's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation officially designated the "Overlook Farm" for the honorary designation, which is geared toward raising public awareness about historical and cultural values.

The historic house is located at 464 SW Eyrie Road, about two miles west of downtown White Salmon.

According to Allyson Brooks of the Washington Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, the house is a living symbol of the community's origins as a farming community.

"The house is historically significant as an intact example of a [1910 craftsman style farmhouse] and for its importance to the early fruit industry in the mid-Columbia area. The house is the first property in White Salmon to be listed on the state register," Brooks explained in formally accepting the Overlook Farm to the state's historic listing.

The house rests on a total of 8.6 acres on the White Salmon bluff, 380 feet above the Columbia River.

The Washington Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation describes the structure as follows: "It is a two-story, wood-frame structure sided in original dark-stained, cedar clapboard with long sloping shingled roofs. The total square footage of the first and second floors combined is 3,075 square feet. The interior contains original, unmodified plaster walls, dark stained fir moldings and original wood flooring also constructed of fir. Back-to-back brick fireplaces in adjacent rooms on the ground floor center the interior space ..."

Stuart Chapin and his wife, Mildred Canfield Chapin, were joint owners of the Overlook property for 30 years, from 1968-1998. Mildred passed away in 2003, but Stuart still lives at Overlook.

Chapin described the emotional impact of his first visit to Overlook, in the spring of 1941.

"I was on my way across the country to meet Mildred's folks, and Mildred had come out to Baker by train from Portland to introduce me to the West," Chapin recalled. "Our first stop was Overlook, Mildred's `Shangri-La' from childhood days. The thrill of that first impression of the Gorge -- the view up and down the Columbia and the view of Mount Hood -- made it my Shangri-La in that instant too. Even now, I feel the need to pinch myself to believe the beauty of it has survived the years of frenzied development along the bluff."

Chapin's daughter, Alison Henderson, is now the legal owner of the Overlook Farm. Henderson lives in Oregon City, Ore.

As part of her formal application for the designation, Henderson detailed the reasons she wanted the house to be placed on the historic register by the Washington Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation: "The year 2010 will mark 100 years since the construction of Overlook," Henderson wrote. "This home, built by an early pioneer in the orchard industry ... has been prized and cared for down through the generations because of its intrinsic beauty and the home's magnificent views of the Columbia River. A love of place has inspired the preservation of Overlook over the years. The more life changes around us, the more we feel the unique character of this home is worth preserving."

Chapin, who has compiled a list of the owners of the Overlook house since its construction was completed in 1910, noted that the George Aggers family built the home after starting a fruit orchard on the land:

George Aggers & Family, 1907-1922: Aggers established and operated a cherry orchard there, then built a home on the site, with the house completed in 1910.

Doris & Maud Aggers, 1922-1946.

Flora Webster Canfield: 1946-1968.

Mildred & Stuart Chapin: 1968-1998.

Alison Chapin Henderson: 1998-present.

In the official Washington Heritage Register that describes the property, the significance of "Overlook" to local history is highlighted as follows:

"George and Louisa Aggers and their two daughters, Doris and Maud, came to the White Salmon area to establish a cherry orchard. The property was assembled piece by piece beginning in 1907, combining to a total 46.6 acres," read an excerpt of the Heritage Register regarding the property. "The family finally built their home and planted their orchard in 1910. The name of the business was `Overlook Farm,' shortened over the years to simply `Overlook.' The spectacular views entered into their choice of home site, but the richness of the volcanic soil was just as important for their selection of property. This was an era when the mid-Columbia area established its reputation for its excellence in fruit production, and the Aggers were a part of this community ... Overlook remains a solitary reminder of an earlier era."

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