The Harn Homestead is an Oklahoma treasure that reflects the territorial history of Oklahoma City. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the grace of a Victorian home as well as the waste-not want-not ethic of territorial farm families. Our buildings and grounds encapsulate the varied life experiences of the men, women, and children who settled Oklahoma territory.
The History of the Harn Homestead spans over 100 years. In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Mr. William Fremont Harn to be a special land commissioner to help determine property ownership following the run of 1889.
Mr. Harn and his wife, Alice, moved from Mansfield, Ohio to Oklahoma City. His federal appointment ended in 1893. While Mrs. Harn hoped to return to their home state, Mr. Harn had become enamored with the potential of a brand new Oklahoma City and wanted to remain and assist with its growth. In 1897 he purchased a 160 acre plot to create a permanent home for his family. Additionally, Mr. Harn purchased land near downtown Oklahoma City and developed several neighborhoods, most notably Harndale, now known as Heritage Hills.
When the State of Oklahoma relocated the capitol from Guthrie to Oklahoma City, Mr. Harn donated 40 acres of his property for the construction of a new State Capitol. His neighbor, Mr. Culbertson, also donated 40 acres. The State Capitol now sits on both Mr. Harn and Mr. Culbertson’s donated land.
The Harn Family
When Mr. Harn's federal appointment expired in 1893, Mrs. Harn hoped to return to Ohio. But Mr. Harn preferred the opportunities he saw in a young Oklahoma City. It is said that, in compromise, Mr. Harn offered his wife the selection of any home in the National Home Builders catalog. Alice Harn 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. It was ordered at Christmas in 1903 and built on their homestead over 6 weeks in 1904.
Mrs. Harn’s niece, Florence Wilson, came from her home in Plano, TX in 1907 and lived with them for the remainder of the Harn's lives. Mrs. Harn died in 1931 and Mr. Harn passed away in 1944. At that time, Miss Wilson inherited the house and property and lived there until 1967 when she deeded it to the City of Oklahoma City for a museum and city park. In June 1986, the museum incorporated as the William Fremont Harn Gardens, Inc. doing business as the Harn Homestead, a private non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
When the Harn's 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 territorial history and what life was like during the years of 1889-1907.