Located in Seaside, OR, the Seaside Museum and Historical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the area’s social and cultural history, offering an educational museum with historical exhibits and a restored living history museum cottage and garden facility.
Though the Columbia River area of the Pacific Northwest had long been home to the Clatsop, Chinook, and Kathlamet indigenous tribes, the history of European occupation of the area dates back to the 1792 expeditions of Robert Gray and the subsequent 1805 surveys of Captains Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. The area that now encompasses the city of Seaside was historically the location of the Clatsop Ne-co-tat village. In 1899, the area was incorporated as a coastal resort city, and in 1912, French immigrant Alexandre Gilbert was elected as the city’s mayor, adding significant amounts of beachfront land to the area as a result of personal land donations. Throughout the early 20th century, the area became established as a seashore resort community, known for its beachfront cottages, resorts, boardwalks, and cultural attractions. The Seaside Historical Society was established in 1970 to preserve the region’s social and cultural history, and a museum facility was opened the same year to showcase artifact holdings in public exhibits. In 1993, the Society opened the Butterfield Cottage living history museum.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Seaside Museum and Historical Society operates as a nonprofit educational organization, seeking to preserve the region’s history and educate visitors through museum exhibits and public programming. The Society is operated by a board of directors, along with the help of a number of volunteers serving in various operational and archival capacities. The museum’s operations are funded by private and corporate donations, which are accepted via the Society’s website.
At the Seaside Museum, a variety of exhibits chronicle the area’s history, spanning thousands of years through its indigenous history and pioneer settlement. A Native American Exhibit documents the findings of the Palmrose and Par-Tee Archaeological Digs of the 1970s, conducted by researchers at the Smithsonian Institution, and showcases handcrafted artifacts, a model of a Clatsop long house, and a map of the area’s indigenous tribes and languages. A Logging Exhibit displays a collection of photographs related to the area’s logging industry, and a Railroad History Exhibit documents the construction of the 1898 trestle across Youngs Bay. Several exhibits chronicle the area’s history as a resort area, including a Seaside Hotels Exhibit and an exhibit on the city’s Turnaround Building, which formerly housed a bath house, skating rink, and businesses such as an ice cream and confectionery shop. The history of the area’s Pacific Pier Boardwalk and Seaside Signal Newspaper are also chronicled, along with exhibits on historic area businesses and one-room schoolhouses. A Seaside Hall of Fame exhibit also pays homage to past government officials and civic leaders.
Visitors may explore the Butterfield Cottage, which preserves a historic 1910s-era beachfront cottage, as part of docent-led tours. The cottage was built in 1893 by Portland jeweler Horace Seely Butterfield and used as a private family beach cottage for the following decade. In 1907, the home was transferred to the care of Guy E. DeGolia, whose wife, Emelia Roberts, operated the cottage as a summer boarding house. Throughout the mid-2oth century, the building was used as a millinery shop and an antique shop until it was acquired by the Society in 1984 and relocated to its present location. The Butterfield Cottage has been returned to its original 1912 appearance, furnished with period-appropriate artifacts throughout its dining room, study, kitchen, nursery, and two bedrooms.
The grounds of the Butterfield Cottage have also been cultivated into a Butterfield Gardens facility, established in 2004 as part of a grant from the Historical Gardens Project. All gardens are tended by volunteers from the Sou'Wester Garden Club, an Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs partner organization. Gardens showcase native and historic flowers such as Matilija poppies, Harrison’s yellow roses, flowering tobacco, crocuses, and hollyhock, and an herb garden cultivates native herb species.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Docent-led tours of the museum and cottage facility are offered, including curriculum-incorporated tours for elementary and secondary student groups. A Fourth of July Old-Fashioned Social event, held annually since 1987, features a cake walk and silent auction. A Gingerbread Tea is also presented by the Society on several dates in November and December, featuring homemade gingerbread cookies and a raffle of donated gingerbread houses. A History and Hops lecture series is also hosted monthly at the nearby Seaside Brewing Company, featuring historical lectures on a variety of cultural and social topics related to the area’s past.
570 Necanicum Dr, Seaside, OR 97138, Phone: 503-738-7065