The Old Wood House circa 1870

Marvin Sylvester Wood (born in New York on October 8, 1836), a wounded Civil War Veteran who was officially listed as deceased during the war, was discharged as a corporal from the United States Army in January of 1864, and he came to the Southern Oregon area in 1868 along with his susan hart in front of wood housebrother Dennis Wood. A homestead was established just north of Eagle Point, Oregon. Dennis Wood died in June of 1869 leaving Marvin to manage the existing homestead and a land patent was filed in May of 1870, at which time the existing house was constructed.

Marvin Wood married Susan Griffith in 1876, and they had three children: two daughters, Ora and Mayme, and one son, Walter Sylvester Wood. Marvin and Susan divorced in 1900. Susan later married John Hart in 1901, and Mr. Hart committed suicide in 1912. Marvin Sylvester Wood died in 1924, and Susan Griffith Wood Hart passed away in the Wood House in 1929. Walter Wood was born in the house in 1881, and he lived in the house his entire life until he passed away in September of 1974. Marvin Wood, Susan Wood-Hart, and Walter Wood are all buried in the old IOOF Cemetery in Central Point, Oregon.

Around 1898 the house was remodeled. A kitchen wing was added and also the second story of the housed was raised several feet higher. The famous “front gable” was also added at that time.

During its career, the Wood House has been in jeopardy several times. The first time was in 1946 when Highway 62 was widened. The house was in the way of the construction so the State of Oregon was going to demolish the structure. Walter Wood, son of Marvin Wood, fought to save the house, and he was instrumental in purchasing the Ashpole property (38 acres) across the street from the existing homestead and then the house was moved to its present location where it still stands today. The price for moving the house was $1,420. When moved, the house was turned around 180 degrees so that it would face Highway 62. In its old location the house faced Mt. McLoughlin.

photo courtesy of Loretta Wood Corbett

Prior to 1946, the house never had electricity or internal plumbing. After the move three lights were installed in the house and a sink with running water was installed in the kitchen. An outhouse was still used.

After Walter Wood passed away in September of 1974, the house was boarded up and abandoned. An investor from California purchased the house and the 38 acres it sat on in 1983. The house continued to waste away and it was taken over by brush and blackberry bushes. Over the years vandals removed all of the doors and windows except for one living room door and the door leading to the staircase. The house was set on fire several times over by vandals and each time the house refused to burn. Due to its deteriorated condition and the backdrop of Mt. McLoughlin, the Wood House became the most photographed and art painted house in the Pacific Northwest, and it still claims that title today. There are photographs and paintings of the house all over the United States and in foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, England and Japan.

photo courtesy of Skip Geear

In the year 2000 the existing land owner donated the structure to the Eagle Point Historical Society, but he retained the 38 acres. A one-acre lease to the Society was established at $200 per month so that the house could be kept on site. Using donated money and volunteers, during the summer of 2001 a minimal restoration was done to the house. Keeping the atmosphere of the house in mind that photographers and artists enjoy, only the work needed to keep the house structurally safe was performed. The old porch on the house was torn down and using what original wood could be salvaged, a new porch was constructed. The roof was reshingled with old weathered cedar shakes that were removed and donated from the Don Grissom house in Lake Creek, Oregon. Vintage windows and doors were added to fill the vacant openings throughout the house. Nothing was done to the inside of the structure, and visitors can view the unchanged interior to see exactly how things were back in the 1870’s.

Several years later the Wood House was in danger once again. The existing property owner put the land up for a speculative sale, so the future of the house was uncertain. Fund raisers were established to try to raise enough money to purchase the land, but the landowner continued to increase the price making any purchase of the land by the Eagle Point Historical Society impossible.

In May of 2006 Judson Parsons and Diana Gardener (a Salem couple) purchased the property from the existing landowner and the Wood House was saved once again. A new lease was established with the Eagle Point Historical Society and instead of one-acre, two-acres were now leased at $1 per year.

Wood House Roses. The rose bush in the foreground is original to the house. It was just a twig and was almost dead when we arrived there to refurbish the house. Today it thrives, just like the house!

In 2007 all funding from a state-wide levy established in 1947 for historical preservation purposes was discontinued by the Jackson County Commissioners; therefore, all 14 of the local historical societies within the county were without an annual income. With no more funding available, the days of the Eagle Point Historical Society were limited therefore, the Wood House existence was in danger yet again. To save the Eagle Point Museum and the Wood House for future generations, a dual conveyance of the assets and properties of the Eagle Point Historical Society was established. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization was setup by three Wood House volunteers and the Wood House, along with all of its assets, were conveyed to the newly formed “Woodhouse Preservation Group”, and the Wood House received a new life. At that time a second conveyance was done and the City of Eagle Point received the Eagle Point Museum, all of the existing assets and the artifacts contained in the museum. After both conveyances were completed, the Eagle Point Historical Society was officially dissolved and it no longer exists.

photo courtesy of Gary Wilkinson

All work and the events at the house are performed on a volunteer basis and since there is no payroll the Wood House is operated on a very small annual budget, supported strictly by donations. Various annual events are held at the Wood House each spring and summer to bring tourists and local visitors to the house. The events include a Farm Festival Show, a Halloween Open House and an Old Fashioned Christmas Open House. Free tours of the Wood House are given during each event and at other times of the year by appointment.

Civil War at the Wood House. Loretta Wood-Corbett (Walter Wood’s granddaughter) is in center of photo. (Gary Wilkinson photo)

Since the beginning in 1870, the Wood House has fought heavy rains, snow, the Columbus Day Storm, hail, fire, vandalism and county politics, and through all of this the house still remains to welcome you to come and visit. See how western primitive living really was in the late 1800’s!

Woodhouse Preservation Group
161 Rockingham Circle, Eagle Point, Oregon 97524

For additional information or to set up an appointment to tour the Wood House call:
(541) 826-2177

PLEASE HELP TO KEEP THE WOOD HOUSE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS.

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Marvin Sylvester Wood After the Civil War

After the close of the war, Marvin continued to live in Medina, Lenawee County, Michigan from 1864 to 1868, then apparently he and his brother Dennis migrated west by way of Cape Horn and settled Santa Clara County, California 1 for a short time, then continued on to Oregon.

In 1869, Marvin filed a homestead claim and built a small cabin on land just out of Eagle Point, Oregon.  That year, two tragedies occurred, Dennis died, and the cabin burned on Oct. 16, 1869.   With determination and perseverance, Marvin built a large house strong enough to last a lifetime.  The wood for the house was cut from trees above Prospect, Oregon

Susan (Griffith) (Wood) Hart, Photo courtesy of Loretta Wood-Corbett

Photo courtesy of Loretta Wood-Corbett

In early 1876, Marvin met Susan Carolina Griffeth, a local girl.  They married on May 21, 1876 by the JP in Eagle Point, Oregon at the home of the bride’s father, Charles Griffeth.  Marvin and Susan reared three children at the homestead, they were Ora, Mayme (Mamie), and Walter Wood.

The 1880 U.S. Census by Little Butte, Jackson, Oregon listed Marvin S. Woods age 43, Race W, Birthplace NY, Occupation as Farmer, and Father & Mother birthplaces as NY.  Married to Susan C., age 24, with children of Ora (age 3) and Maimey (age 1).  Included in the household was George Doney, Male, Race W, Age 26, Birthplace California, Occupation as Horse Breaker, Fathers birthplace Ohio, and Mothers birthplace Indiana.

After Susan and Marvin reared their three children at the homestead, Marvin separated from Susan in 1898 and he moved into Eagle Point.  Susan’s divorce from Marvin was apparently final in 1900.  In the 1900 U.S. Census, Marvin was listed as a widower, living in Eagle Point with his daughter, Ora Henderson, her husband Thomas and their daughter Veta, age 10 months.

Marvin, over the years, had suffered from his gun shot wounds he received in the Civil War.  He had applied and re-applied for pension increases, and he was examined and re-examined by doctors over the years to justify his pension increases. His left arm became so disabled that he could do very little manual labor, besides his left jaw and face being badly disfigured from his wounds. . 2

Sometime after 1913, Marvin married again, to a widow by the name of Rachel (Gilpin) Wolary.  She had been previously married to Nathaniel Wolary, also a Civil War veteran, who died Jan. 29, 1913 in Eagle Point.  According to the 1920 Census, Rachel was listed as the spouse to Marvin.

Rachel Wood died Feb. 2, 1924 at the home of Dick Johnson, in Eagle Point, OR.  She is buried at the Central Point Cemetery.  Marvin died nearly a month and a half after Rachel, on March 16, 1924 at 3:30 a.m.  Marvin had suffered his last years from senility, and eventually died from Prostatitis and Cystitis during his last month of life.  He died in his son’s home, the one he had built several years before. According to his death certificate, Marvin’s mother was Elizabeth Cawson (Clawson), and father was Sylvester Wood.  Marvin is buried at the Central Point Cemetery.

Obituary for Marvin S. Wood:

“Marvin Sylvester Wood 87 resident of Eagle Point for 55 years, Veteran of Civil War and was wounded, died Sunday (Mar. 16, 1924) at is son’s home.  Mr. Wood was born in Erie Co. New York on 10-8-1836 and came west in 1868.  Married Miss Susan Griffith 1876.  Survivors are Ora, Mayme Hawes and Walter Wood.  He was a Methodist and member of the G. A. R.” (Grand Army of the Republic). 3

  1. Source: Marvin S. Wood Pension Records.
  2. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions document dated 12/2/1899, signed by Marvin S. Wood.
  3. Source: Medford Mail Tribune Obituary).