Historic Buildings

Fiechter Barn

Rich cultural history is evident at Finley National Wildlife Refuge, and sets it apart from the other Willamette Valley Refuges.

With 8 historic barns and buildings on the refuge lands, visitors can catch a glimpse at what life could have been like in the days of the Euroamerican settlement of the Valley. For an article on the early donation land claims on William L. Finley NWR by Deputy Project Leader Laila Lienesch, check out the 3rd Quarter, 2013 edition of the Wild Goose Tales.

  • Fiechter House

    The Fiechter House is located on the original Donation Land Claim site of John Fiechter and is considered one of the oldest buildings in Benton County .

    John Fiechter was born in 1822 in Baden, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1835 and arrived in Oregon on November 15, 1846. He married Cynthia Ellen Newton on March 21, 1850 when he was 28 and she was 16. The Fiechters had seven children; Melissa, Francis, Marion, Emeline, Rachel, Clarinda, Ellen Ann and Cynthia Ann.

    Construction of the house is thought to have begun around 1855 and took two to three years to complete. While the house was being built the large family lived in a log cabin nearby.

    In 1861, at the age of 39, John Fiechter was accidentally shot as he prepared to go hunting. Archibald Johnson, a farm laborer from Indiana, who apparently lived on the claim, was with Fiechter. His wife Cynthia was left a widow with seven small children at the age of 27.

    In 1862, Cynthia married Archibald Johnson. Together they had five children making a total of twelve children raised in the Fiechter House. The house remained home to the Fiechter/Johnson children until they were married and moved out.

    Cynthia and Archibald continued to operate the farmstead until his death in 1889. Cynthia and her son, Francis Marion Fiechter, managed the farmstead until 1906 when it was sold. After the sale of the land, Cynthia moved to Corvallis where she lived until her death in 1924 at the age of 90.

  • Carriage House

    The Carriage House is located on the west side of the Fiechter House. Mrs. Henry Failing Cabell referred to this building as the "garage". It was built in 1933, at the same time the Cabells remodeled the Fiechter House, to house their car when they visited and to store their wood. Mrs. Cabell said that she drove around the area and found a "carriage house" that she liked and had it copied. It was patterned after the New England architectural style of the Fiechter House. The Carriage House is on the Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties.

  • Cabell Lodge

    Cabell Lodge was built by Henry and Emily Cabell around 1912 and is located about 200 ft. south of the Fiechter House overlooking Cabell Marsh. This lodge is an example of an early twentieth century home of a well-to-do rancher and sportsman.

    When originally built, the first story housed the farm manager and his family and the second story was used by the Cabell family during hunting seasons and other times when the family visited the estate.

    In 1964, the Cabells sold land that included the Fiechter House to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and it became part of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. From 1979 to 2009, this building was used as the headquarters office for the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

    Cabell Lodge has been placed on the Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties and the Benton County Register of Historic resources.

  • Fiechter Barn

    The Fiechter Barn is located about 250 feet north of the Fiechter House. It is a large, well built farm building from the early twentieth century. The exact date of construction is unknown. The condition of the barn is fair and is currently being used by the Benton County Historical Society to store and display historic farm related equipment.

    This building has been placed on the Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties and the Benton County Register of Historic resources.

  • Big Barn

    The Office Barn, or as it is fondly referred to, the “Big” Barn is located in the Refuge equipment yard. It can be seen from Mill Hill Trail, but is closed to the public. The Big Barn is one of the largest of its type in the Willamette Valley.

    The original barn is thought to have been constructed in 1904. Lean-to sides are believed to have been added to the barns east and west elevations in the late 20's or early 30's. The interior of the barn contains a loft with a large central opening to the main floor below. This design feature provided for the storage of the feed and hay on the second level with easy access to the livestock below. In the winter the barn housed several hundred cattle and 30 horses. The hay loft held enough hay to feed all these animals through winter.

    This building is currently being used for the storage of Refuge equipment and supplies. This barn has been placed on the Oregon Inventory of Historic properties and the Benton County Register of historic Resources.

    The Refuge was recently honored with the Benton County Preservation Award for the work done to replace the Big Barn’s failing roof.

  • Irwin-Cheadle Barn

    Irwin-Cheadle barn is located near the south end of the Refuge at the end of an access road on a hill just west of Muddy Creek. This barn was constructed in 1900 by Earnest Brimmer for Richard S. Irwin. Irwin owned the property until his death in the 1920's when it was transferred to two daughters, Leanna Avery and Bessie Hunsberger. In 1947 the farm was sold to the Cheadle family. The Cheadles are believed to have constructed the additions to the barn in the late 40's and 50's.

    Cheadle Barn was originally constructed as a horse barn in an era when horse-drawn farming methods prevailed. The basic interior was designed to facilitate the stabling and care of both the work and saddle horses. This included stalls, feed storage and tack room. The transition to mechanized farm machinery during the 1920's rendered the horse barn obsolete. Still in its original form, the barn continued to house riding horses and milk cows and provided storage for sacked and baled feed. Later it was used as a winter shelter for cattle. In 1947 the barn was used for the care and feeding of sheep.

    The barn is currently used for storage of refuge and farming permitted equipment. Cheadle Barn is on the Benton County Register of Historic Places and the National Register of historic Places.

  • Granary

    Historically used for grain storage, the granary was once functionally related to the Big Barn and recently moved to its current site in order to preserve the structure. By function there are no windows in the granary, however a wooden access opening for grain dispersal still exists just above ground level. The interior of the building is divided into two spaces with a stacked plank that is open above the height of the exterior walls. Large, free-standing granaries like this are exceedingly rare in Benton County as much smaller granary areas were often built within barns to provide easy access to animal feed. Also, the superior plank-style construction necessitated by the weight of the grain stored made these buildings valuable “banks” of lumber for other agricultural building projects.

  • Smokehouse

    The smokehouse is a small historic construction which stands just north of the headquarters observation platform. The small building was originally used to cure meat products for preservation and was functionally related to the Big Barn.