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Reed-Cobb-Bowser House and Barn listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Nov. 17, 2017

The Reed-Cobb-Bowser House and Barn in Merlin, Josephine County is among Oregon's latest entries in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Reed-Cobb-Bowser House and Barn is located on Merlin Road in the unincorporated town of Merlin, approximately seven miles northwest of Grants Pass, in rural Josephine County. Built in 1910-11, the 2-1/2 story Craftsman-style house is associated with early 20th century movement in many parts of western Oregon to promote residential-agricultural development on relatively small, usually 5 to 10-acre parcels. In 1909, a group of wealthy investors led by brothers William T. and Franklin E. Reed began purchasing property around Merlin for the purpose of both speculating on the land itself and fostering the development of an orchard economy in the area. The Reed-Cobb-Bowser House was originally built in 1910-11 as the headquarters and clubhouse for what became known as the Country Club Orchard development, as well as the residence of William T. Reed's daughters, Grace and Marian Reed. Though initially successful, the project soon faltered, and by the early 1920s, undeveloped land began to be sold off to satisfy debt. The house remained in the ownership of William T. Reed, who, upon his death in 1924, passed ownership to Marian and Grace. Grace lived in the house with her husband, Everett Cobb until 1936, when the house was sold to miner Heber E. Bowser and his wife, Clementine, the wealthy heiress of Portland family wealth. Clementine, in addition to owning and managing several successful mines in the area, was also a well-known equestrian, and is responsible for the large and well-appointed horse barn that accompanies the house on the National Register. In addition to its association with the events of local development, the house is also recognized as an exceptional example of the Craftsman style of architecture, widely popular across the United States during the early 20th century.

Oregon's State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation recommended the district's nomination during their June 2017 meeting, and on October 30, 2017, the house and barn were formally listed by the Keeper of the National Register in Washington DC. The Reed-Cobb-Bowser House and Barn are the second property in Merlin, Josephine County, to be listed in the National Register. The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

More information about the National Register and recent Oregon lists is online at www.oregonheritage.org (click on "National Register" at left of page).