The Howell House was built in 1891 by Mr. Howell so his daughter, Susan, could attend the Oregon Normal School (now Western Oregon University). Women could actually attend the ONS because it was a teacher training school. Kudos to Mr. Howell!
After Susan obtained her teaching degree, she took in student boarders which makes the Howell House the oldest student housing in Oregon. Through the years, the house went through several owners but remained a rooming house until 1984 when it was officially condemned after its final years of lots of use and little care.
In 1987, Clint and Sandy Boylan bought the house for $25,000. With a commitment to stylistic integrity and a vision for beauty, the Boylans cannibalized another house built by Mr. Howell which had been built for Mr. Riddell on what is now Riddell Road at the North Gates of WOU. If you’re on Riddell Road in the Spring, you can see that it is lined on the west side by a bevy of beautiful Irises which Mr. Riddell planted decades ago just for your enjoyment.
The original wood from both houses was used to painstakingly reconstruct the Howell House to its original grandeur. The Boylans added flourishes such as the beautifully designed and placed wallpaper in the parlor, dining room and central hallway.
For 12 years the Boylans ran a successful Victorian Style Bed and Breakfast complete with fluttery lace curtains, vintage cars and parlor piano concerts. They sold the house to Cary Madden who added further vision and flourishes as well as her charming personality and culinary artistry. In 2005, Cary went on to pursue her career as a pastry chef and the house stood sadly vacant for two years.
While completing my Master’s degree at WOU in the early 90’s, I often admired the Howell House as I drove through town from Salem. The trimmed corner lot and the serenity of style that beckoned to a quieter time was very appealing to a full-time student and mother of six. Monmouth has many beautiful old homes but this one is right out here in the middle of everything so it has the opportunity to get properly noticed.
Surprisingly, in 2007 I had the opportunity to buy the Howell House, all mustard-colored with brown trim, chipped and weathered and looking like it needed a lift of spirits throughout (sorta like me at the time). Right away, with a crew of singing painters, an expert wood restorer, an ebullient contractor, a long-suffering building inspector, a progressive city planner, a boisterous crew of non-English speaking roofers, and a truly magical muralist, the visions I awoke with daily began to materialize.
In the beginning of this adventure, now called MaMere’s Bed and Breakfast, my trendy collegiate sons wondered why I’d bought “an old haunted house,” or any house for that matter without surround sound. But, eventually, after months of working on certain aspects of the redesign and catching the vision for what the house would become, they stood back with awe and pride, just like the rest of us.
I look forward to sharing the house with all who enter. Her rich history and the care she’s gotten in recent decades have restored her to a place of warmth and comfort and healing. Y’all come!