History

The Museum

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 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 men, women, and children who settled this state.

Harn Homestead HouseThe History of the Harn Homestead spans over 100 years. After the Land Run of April 22, 1889 in Oklahoma Territory, there were many disputes over land claims. In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Mr. William Fremont Harn to be a special land commissioner to help determine property ownership.

Mr. Harn and his wife, Alice, moved from Mansfield, Ohio to Oklahoma City in 1891. His federal appointment ended in 1893. In 1897 he purchased 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 understood the value of property and became one of the early developers of Oklahoma City. 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 wanted to return to Ohio. But Mr. Harn said that if she would agree to live in Oklahoma, he would build her any house she wanted. In 1897, Mr. Harn purchased the 160 acre farm. 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. In 1903, Mr. Harn ordered it from the National Home Builders catalog as a Christmas present and compromise. It was crated up in Chicago, put on a train, and erected at the homestead over 6 weeks in 1904.

Mr. and Mrs. Harn lost a son in infancy during the early years of their marriage prior to their move to Oklahoma and had no other children, but they did take in Mrs. Harn’s niece, Florence Wilson in 1907. 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 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.