Oregon Coast History Museum


Newport is blessed with not one, but two museums less than a block from each other.

The Oregon Coast History Center is just that, a center for learning about the history of not only the development of Newport, but Native American traditions and cultures as well.

Loretta Harrison, executive director of the center, says there are two buildings to see when you visit, the Burrows House Museum and the Log Cabin Museum.

“A lot of people see one or the other, because they end up not making it to the other site,” Harrison said. The funny part is the two sites are within the same block, one at the end of the block and the other in the middle – tucked off Highway 101, so traffic isn’t an issue.

The Burrows House is filled with hundreds of objects from the Lincoln County Historical Society’s collection, a collection that has more than 40,000 artifacts in all. The house has been the site of Smithsonian exhibits and the historical society’s offices upstairs.   The society is an affiliate of the Oregon Historical Society. The old home, which was moved from its perch near Highway 101 in the mid-1970s, also houses the research library. When you take a tour through the house, try to wait for a volunteer to become available because it makes the experience much more in-depth. While each exhibit does have a card with a story, hearing even more of the history of items makes the experience one you soon won’t forget.

From quilts to antique pianos to parts and pieces of shipwrecks, the museum includes exhibits from the past that give visitors a real sense of the history of the area.

“The focus of the Burrows House is mostly the 19th and 20th centuries,” Harrison said. “We focus on Newport history and every three to six months we change something out.”

One exhibit that Harrison said would stay awhile is about shipwrecks. From old schooners to more modern wrecks, namely the New Carissa, there is an entire hall filled with artifacts and mementos. “People are just fascinated with it, so we have left it up,” she said.  

The Log Cabin, which was closed when I visited, is open part-time, so call ahead if you want to tour that attraction. Harrison said the cabin features the early history of Lincoln County and also has reservation history from the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz. In addition it also has information regarding the covered bridges that were in the area, fishing industry and settlement history. “It also has a hands-on room for the kids,” Harrison said. “Kids can even do their own research.”

Harrison said that both the Log Cabin and Burrows House have gift shops where proceeds go to keep the doors open, and both have a strong selection of local history books and maps.

Both sites see anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people annually, and Harrison said to check the society’s web site to get hours of operation, as they change seasonally.

“History gives people a foundation in this fast-paced world we live in,” she said. “People who take time out of their vacations and visit us learn new things about the coast and see how this community grew.”

About the Oregon Coast History Center: History is always changing . . . and so are the exhibits and programs offered by the Lincoln County Historical Society. Visit two museums at one site and explore many different exhibits. Check out the museum stores with books and gifts that offer a closer connection to the fascinating history of this coastal region. Delve deeper into the past in the research library.

What to bring: Curiosity. With the different focuses of each building, and artifacts ranging from historic office equipment, to quilts, to fishery and industry history, chances are you will find something to pique your interest. Give yourself several hours and make sure to visit on a day when both buildings are open.

Tip: Harrison couldn’t say it enough: There are two buildings to see when you visit. So many people will spend time in the Queen Anne Victorian Burrows House that they will forget the Log Cabin and vise versa. In addition, the Lincoln County Historical Society is trying to set up a maritime museum near Newport’s historic bay front. If you are so inclined, ask how you can help make finishing the site a reality.

Season: The center is closed for two weeks in December; otherwise it is open year-round. 

Getting there: Plug 545 SW Ninth Street, Newport, Oregon into the GPS, and it is pretty easy to find. The center is one block off Highway 101 to the east, behind Pig ‘n’ Pancake. Coming from the north, if you pass over the Yaquina Bay Bridge, you have gone too far south.

Contact information: You can reach the center to find out the latest hours at 541-265-7509.

By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com