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Dibble House Museum

The Dibble House Museum and research library consists of three main structures: The Dibble House, the VonderAhe House with summer kitchen, and Ivor Davies Hall.  Here, you can check out these buildings and learn about their history and contribution to the museum.

The museum is owned and operated by The Molalla Area Historical Society, and is located just a few streets south of downtown Molalla.

The Horace L. Dibble House

This story was written by Gail McCormick.

The house was built circa 1859 in Molalla, Oregon for Horace Lasalle Dibble and his family. The house is unusual as an example of a saltbox, a dwelling type more commonly associated with Colonial-era New England. The timber-framed house has two stories on the eastern main facade, and one story in the rear.[2] It is unusual for a Settlement Era house to have such large rooms, large windows, and two fireplaces.

Dibble was born in Madison County, New York in 1815 to Thomas and Ruth Gates Dibble. He married his wife Julia Ann Sturges in Van Buren County, Iowa in July 1845. In 1852, Horace, Julia, their three children, along with members of the Sturges family, traveled overland to Oregon and settled in the Needy area of the Willamette Valley. While riding out looking for lost cattle, Horace came upon a knoll covered with apple trees not far from the four corners of what is now Molalla. He decided that this is where he wanted to live out his life, and arranged to purchase the land belonging to the widow Rachel Larkins. He hired a local builder who was a former seafarer, who took three years to build the house. The Dibbles and their then 6 children moved into their new home in 1859. Two more children were born to them in the house. The family lived in the home until 1909. Horace died in 1899, a man noted for his thrift. Julia died in 1904,[2] and was a loving mother, a kind friend, and as long as she was physically able, was very ready to extend a helping hand to the sick and needy.   

In 1909 the house was rented and then sold to Dudley and Goldie Boyles. They lived in the house only until 1914, when Dudley was elected Clackamas County Recorder, and they moved to Oregon City. In 1930 Dudley lost his life in an automobile accident, leaving Goldie with two daughters to raise. She maintained ownership of the house, renting it out, until she was finally able to return to Molalla and live in the house until her death in 1968. Her heirs then sold the house to Ruth McBride (Mrs Albert) Powers, who did some immediate restoration work and arranged for the house to be purchased by the Molalla Area Historical Society. The historical society was incorporated in January 1970 for the purpose of restoring the Dibble House and using it as a museum.

The Dibble House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 1974. 

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The Fred VonderAhe House

The historic Fred Vonder Ahe house and summer kitchen were built in 1869 for Christian Frederick and Marie Kline Vonder Ahe and their children, and was originally located on the Vonder Ahe farm near the community of Carus on the main wagon road between Oregon City and Molalla. A portion of the original farm, known today as Evans Farms, is still owned by Vonder Ahe descendants. For many years, the house was a popular stage coach stop. In 1972, the house was acquired by the Molalla Area Historical Society and moved to their present location adjacent to the Dibble house where restoration continues today. The Vonder Ahe House has been listed on the National Register of Historic places since 1976.

The Vonder Ahe house was built in 1869 and is a box style construction. The Vonder Ahe family provided meals and sleeping arrangements for the people traveling on the stages between Portland and Salem. It houses display items and some period furniture. The separate "summer kitchen" is an interesting part of the family story.

Christian Frederick Vonder Ahe was born in 1828, in Wesphalia, a principality that was united by the influence of Bismark into Prussia and the Germany known before World War II. 

Now, 131 years later, you may tour this house.  It is lovingly restored and cared for by the Molalla Historical Society.  An unusual feature is a small building known as the summer kitchen.  Early pioneers often built separate summer kitchens in case of fire.  Although it is next to the house now, in its original setting it was built about 40 feet from the "big house".

With the help of his family, Fred cleared the land and built a drying house and the family went into the business of raising and drying apples.  The peels and trimmings went into a vinegar barrel and Vonder Ahe vinegar earned a reputation for excellence for miles around.  The house was also a stopping place for travelers, often staying overnight in the upstairs rooms.  Indians, passing through, often camped in front of the house.

Maria Louisa died in 1905 and Fred in 1909.  At his death, the farm was divided among the six children.  The old farm is called Evans Farm, after Clarence Evans, who married into the family.  Today it is a thriving nursery business still operated by descendants of the Vonder Ahes.

The house just before it was moved to its current location in Molalla.

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The Ivor Davies Hall

Ivor Davies Hall used for special events and meetings of society. This Hall also houses artifacts from the Molalla High School destroyed in the 1993 earthquake, along with other local history exhibits.

 

Built in 2003, Ivor Davies Hall is located adjacent to the Dibble and VonderAhe houses. Displays on exhibit there include memorabilia from the Molalla Union High School, local Native American artifacts and arrowheads, an array of antique telephones from Molalla Communications, and a one room school house display typical of the 1890s. On display are photos of the MUHS, a collage of photos of Ivor Davies himself, and recent memory boards created annually by Joan Deardorf, to honor late MHS alumni. The hall incorporates many materials from the unique architectural elements salvaged from the historic Molalla Union High School building that was demolished after the 1993 earthquake. 

The Corner Store was designed to be reminiscent of the early 19th century stores of the area, and offers local history books, yearbooks, and memorabilia, replica toys, as well as bricks from the fondly remembered school. 

The hall is available for use by groups and organizations for meetings or social events for a reasonable donation. It has a maximum capacity of 35 people.

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