Area History

The following text is from A Brief History & Walking Tour - College Hill published by the City of Eugene in March 2001:

"For many years, College Hill, like the surrounding Willamette Valley, was occupied by the Kalapuya Indians. These nomadic people practiced controlled burning of the valley floor to increase growth of edible plants and facilitate hunting.

While the Kalapuya had ceased burning long before Eugene Skinner first laid eyes on this area in 1846, the evidence remained. In the 1850's, the first U.S. Government survey of the area recorded the terrain as prairie with isolated white oaks. College Hill was also grass-covered with a group of trees on the Southwest slope.

The donation land claims of Daniel Christian, Charnel Mulligan, and William Breeding covered the area now known as College Hill during the 1840's, the earliest phase of white settlement in the Eugene vicinity.

Built in 1857, the Masterson house is the oldest remaining example of residential development in College Hill and the second-oldest in Eugene. The structure was built by pioneer William Masterson on a knoll on the west side of the College Hill.

Prior to subdivision in 1890, College Hill (and the rest of Friendly Neighborhood) was sparsely populated. Although an early survey listed the soils of College Hill as fertile, they were in fact composed primarily of clay. Early area inhabitants used the area primarily for grazing. Later residents planted small gardens and fruit trees. Until established transportation routes went through the area, improved residential development was limited.

Small early roads had passed to the east and west of the hill, but Willamette Street was the first major transportation route through the area. Henry Holden began a mule-drawn streetcar system (see below) through College Hill in 1891. Although Holden's enterprise only lasted into 1900, it was essential to area development. Almost all of the early residences sprung up around these established transportation routes...The electric streetcar system, which ran from 1907 (1910 in College Hill) to 1927, continued to boost residential development along its path.

The majority of residential development in the College Hill area occurred between 1900 and 1925. This is made evident by the preponderance of Bungalow and Revival style architecture which was very popular at the time. Development continued, with older professional homes primarily at the top of the hill, and later, often post-World War II working-class homes near the base of the hill. Today, College Hill remains a fashionable residential area with very few vacant building lots."