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, in 1891, 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. 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 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 donated 40 acres of his property when the State of Oklahoma relocated the state capitol building from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. 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 him to return to Ohio to live near family. 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 as a Christmas present. 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 pioneers and what life was like for them over 100 years ago.