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Local History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical Sketch

A color image of a covered bridge. Wren, a small community perched on the banks of the Marys River roughly 10 miles ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­west of Corvallis, is named for early white settler George Peake Wrenn (Oregon Geographic Names, 1944).

Moving west from Ohio, and settling first in Portland in the early 1850s, Wrenn settled on a donation land claim outside Corvallis in 1854. Between December 1858 and June 1860, after the unexpected resignation of James P. Stewart, Wrenn served as the County Sheriff. In 1870, Wrenn and his family relocated to Corvallis, where Wrenn worked as a builder and contractor.

Originally know as the Corvallis Engine Company No. 1, Wren organized the Young American Engine Company No. 1 in 1872 and served as its first foreman. Wren subsequently served as the first Chief Engineer when the Corvallis Fire Department was organized. He served two terms in the Oregon Senate (1876 and 1878), and was elected Justice of the Peace in 1880. In 1882, Wrenn was killed while fighting a warehouse fire in Corvallis.

The community of Wren was named in his honor and developed on his former donation land claim, at the junction of two roads and the Oregon Pacific railroad. The first schoolhouse was built in Wren in the 1850s. The Wren post office was established in July 1887, and operated until February 29, 1968 (Oregon Geographic Names, 1944).


Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides Collection, 1936-1998
The Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides provide visual documentation of Oregon State University and the state of Oregon from, in bulk, the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. Consisting of nearly 16,000 unique 35-mm color slides, all of which are described individually, the collection depicts a wide range of university activities, particularly as concerns agricultural research and the development of agricultural practices at OSU's county Extension offices and regional Experiment Stations. Other strengths of the collection include faculty, staff and student life at OSU; Oregon's rural communities as viewed from the ground and the air; and imagery from Henderson's travels around the world. The collection includes images of the covered bridge near Wren (Box 04, image #2778), and of Christmas tree planting near Wren (Box 04, images #3547-3548). The Henderson Slides are being digitized for online access in Oregon Digital.

Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection, circa 1860-1949
The Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection is comprised of black and white images of the Horning Carding Mill and Frederick A. Horning residence, and images, taken in the 1940s, of public schools from in and around the Willamette Valley, including the Wren School (Box 01, image #52). The photographs appear to have been collected, rather than created by VanCleave, and many, if not all, are copy prints.

Oral Histories

Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection, 1975-1978
The Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection consists of 33 interviews conducted primarily in the summer of 1975 by Oregon State University students to document various aspects of local history from 1880 to 1929 in preparation for the United States bicentennial in 1976. Ethel Morgan, who was born in Wren in 1899, discusses her great grandfather Nahum King, and the history of Wren (Box-Folder 2.17). Nearly all of the audiocassettes held in this collection have been digitized and are available upon patron request.

Rare Books

Kings Valley Parents Club, History Committee. Looking Back. Kings Valley, Oregon: The Club, 1985. F884.K52 L61 1985*

Digital Resources

Looking for online content? Oregon Digital, ScholarsArchive, and Media Space contain a wealth of digitized materials that document the rich history of Oregon's residential communities. Often, digitized materials are gathered together as sets, either by publication or collection. Please note that links listed below are "canned searches" for specific content relating to the city, town, or community in question.

  • "Wren" in Oregon Digital
  • "Wren" in ScholarsArchive