The Vonder Ahe House & Summer Kitchen
600 South Molalla Avenue
1869 - 1909
By Gail J. McCormick
The Vonder Ahe House and Summer Kitchen are located at the Molalla Area Historical Society Complex at 600 South Molalla Avenue in Molalla, Oregon. It was the home of Christian Friederich and Marie Vonder Ahe of Carus, Oregon, and was located on the main wagon road from Oregon City to Molalla. For many years, the house was a popular stage coach stop. In 1972, the house and summer kitchen were acquired by the Molalla Area Historical Society who moved it to its present location, adjacent to the Dibble House. In addition to displaying artifacts, it holds the resource library for the Historical Society. The Summer Kitchen was a separate building used for canning and big meals.
The architectural style is Vernacular Federal Style. The Federal Style is named after the Federalist Party which was dominant in American politics at the turn of the 18th Century. In the newly formed United States, the emphasis was on home life. The Federal Style grew out of the needs of a growing middle class and was most popular from 1780 to 1830. This style usually revolves around a central hall floor plan and a side gabled roof. Vernacular refers to the use of the local material and knowledge that would have been available at the time.
Christian Frederick Vonderahe
Christian Friederich Vonder Ahe, known as Fred, was born in Prussia, in 1828. He was the son of Cord Heinrich Vonder Ahe and Marie Wehmer. At the time, King Wilhelm ruled Prussia and there was not much opportunity for farmers. When Fred was 19, he heard of a place of opportunity – America. He made the decision to leave for America to seek his fortune. It was a hard decision as it meant leaving behind his beloved, Marie Louisa Kleine. Marie was born in Prussia, in 1831, and was the daughter of Johann Friedrich Kleine and Marie Elisabeth Rueter. Promising to send for her when he could, Fred departed on a sailing ship for New York City. When he reached New York, he traveled however he could, including by foot, until he reached Blue Island, Illinois. He found work at the Erie Canal, which was then being built. Jobs could be had for $1 per day. From there, he went to work for a farm, in Illinois, where he was paid $6 per month plus room and board. He stayed on the farm for three years.
In 1852, Fred joined a wagon train headed for the Oregon country. Upon arrival in Oregon City, he took a job at Pope's Hardware Store. He made $5 per day delivering for Pope's which was located near Warner Milne and Leland Roads. In his spare time, Fred would take long walks across the countryside. Eventually, he met a man who had taken out a 320 acre donation land claim, but had only cleared six acres of land. By then, Fred had the means and, on August 15, 1857, he bought the property for $600 in gold coin. Ten years had passed since leaving Marie and his family.
Fred moved into the log cabin on the property and sent for Marie. Marie, along with her sister, Elizabeth, left for America in February of 1858. They sailed, for New York, on the ship Airstias. In New York, they spent some time buying new dresses and bonnets. They left New York in the spring and sailed for San Francisco, arriving in July. They traveled from San Francisco to Oregon City by stagecoach.
At the time, Oregon City was a little settlement nestled below the falls of the Willamette River, with a few houses straggling up dusty streets. We can only imagine the meeting of Fred and Marie after waiting such a long time. Their love had lasted and they were married August 13, 1858. Fred was able to clear the land and build a drying house. They went into the business of raising and drying apples. They also made an excellent vinegar to sell. The house was a stopping place for travelers and Indians often camped out in their front yard. Today, that farm is called Evans Farm and is a thriving nursery. It has been operated by descendants of Fred and Marie all these years.
Fred built the house in 1865 and they raised a large family. Fred died in 1909, at Carus. Marie died in 1905, also at Carus. The old house is now over 150 years old. Excepting winter months, you can tour it at the Molalla Area Historical Society Complex at 600 South Molalla Avenue on Friday and Saturday afternoons from 1 pm to 4 pm.
“Christian Friederich Vonder Ahe”, usfindagrave.com
“Frederick Vonder Ahe”, U. S. Census: 1860, 1870, 1880, Beavercreek, Orego
“Marie Kleine”, U. S. Social Security applications, Ancestry.com
“Marie Louisa Kleine”, Oregon Biographical Index Card
“The Story of Fred Vonderahe”, Enterprise Courier, March 27, 1959
@ Gail J. McCormick 2020