Areas of Significance * Period 1800 – 1899 * Architecture * Agriculture
The William Bybee House is listed on the National Historic Register and is registered with the Southern Oregon Historical Society # 296.
The William Bybee House is an interesting example of Classical Revival Architecture in Oregon and nearly identical to the house built by William’s cousin, James Bybee, nearly 300 miles away on Sauvie Island. William Bybee was also an important and influential citizen in Jackson County.
William M. Bybee was born in Clark County, Kentucky, in 1830. In 1850, Bybee went to Missouri where he became a freight driver for the U.S. Government. Two years later, Bybee went to the California Gold Mines. Then in 1853, William headed north through Jacksonville to Sauive Island, where his cousin James, also from Clark County, Kentucky had settled in 1847.
Bybee returned to Jacksonville in 1854 where he and fifty others fought the Indians under the command of Jesse Walker. Walker and his family had migrated to Oregon from Missouri, settling first on Sauvie Island. They then moved south and established a Donation Land Claim (DLC) near Jacksonville in 1852.
In November of 1854, Bybee married Walker’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann. After his marriage, he purchased a portion of the Walker DLC, upon which he built his house. Bybee was “unusually successful in his agricultural affairs” and at one time owned more than 5,000 acres in Jackson County, 2,000 of which were in one piece.
Although his principal occupation was stock raising, Bybee was a very influential man and was active in democratic politics. He was also sheriff for two terms beginning in 1878, and like his cousin James, he was a horse breeder and racer. “Horse races were run at Bybees’ where a course famous up and down the coast was used by owners of thoroughbreds whenever the occasion demanded.”
After Bybee died in November of 1908, it was said that “during his entire life he was counted among the safe and progressive leaders in all matters relating to public affairs.”
The William Bybee House (now Bybee’s Historic Inn) is an imposing figure set off of Old Stage Road, in the Historic Corridor of Jackson County, approximately 1/4 mile north of Jacksonville. The William Bybee house was one of five Jackson County buildings measured and photographed by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) in 1934. The Bybee house is one of a series of vernacular farmhouses and high style country homes constructed between the 1850’s and the 1920’s, along Old Stage Road from Jacksonville to Gold Hill, Oregon. This potential linear historic district contains the route of one of the county’s earliest and most important roads, traveling through numerous Donation Land Claims, reflecting the evolution of the valley’s agriculture; from family gardens and orchards to cattle and wheat ranches and to the commercial orchard boom at the turn of the century.