The Harn Homestead is an Oklahoma treasure that celebrates the territorial history of Oklahoma offering a “hands-on” and “minds-on” experience. Visitors share in the abundance of a territorial farm, the brilliance of a one-room school house, the grace of a Victorian home, and the waste-not want-not ethic of a territorial farm family. There is no place else in Oklahoma that can offer this experience which captures the spirit of the brave men, women, and children who settled this state.
The History of the Harn Homestead spans over 100 years. After the Land Run of April 22, 1889 in the Oklahoma Territory, there were many disputes over land claims so President Benjamin Harrison appointed Mr. William Fremont Harn to be a special land commissioner in Oklahoma Territory to settle these disputes.
Mr. Harn and his wife, Alice, moved to Oklahoma Territory and bought 160 acres on which the William Fremont Harn Gardens, Inc., known as the Harn Homestead, exists today. Through his experience as a claims adjuster, Mr. Harn knew the value of land and became one of the early developers of Oklahoma City. Mr. Harn purchased land near downtown Oklahoma City and developed several neighborhoods. Most notable is Harndale, now known as Heritage Hills and features some of Oklahoma City’s oldest homes. Many are currently on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mr. Harn was a generous man. He donated 40 acres of his property for the State of Oklahoma to relocate the state capitol building from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. His neighbor, Mr. Culbertson, also donated 40 acres of land. The State Capitol now sits on both Mr. Harn and Mr. Culbertson’s land.
The Harn Family
At first, Mr. and Mrs. Harn lived in a one-room house on the property. Mrs. Harn wanted to return to Ohio to her family but Mr. Harn said that if she would stay in Oklahoma, he would build her any house she wanted. She chose a Victorian, Queen Anne style home, characterized by a small, offset front porch and the half-octagon shape of the parlor and upstairs bedroom. Mr. Harn ordered it for a Christmas present. It was crated up in Chicago, put on a train, and erected at the homestead in 6 weeks in 1904.
Mr. and Mrs. Harn did not have any children, but they did take in Mrs. Harn’s niece, Florence Wilson. Mrs. Harn died in 1931 and Mr. Harn passed away in 1944. Miss Wilson inherited the house and property and lived there until 1967. She deeded it to the City of Oklahoma City for a museum. After passing through several historical societies, the Harn Homestead is now a private museum. In June 1986, the museum became the William Fremont Harn Gardens, Inc., doing business as the Harn Homestead, a private non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
When the Harns niece, Florence Wilson, deeded the property to the City, she did so with the expectation that this homestead would offer educational programming to children and become a children’s museum. Continuing with Miss Wilson’s wishes, it is our mission to teach about Oklahoma’s pioneers and what life was like for them over 100 years ago.