The first white man in the area
that is now Colville was David Thompson, who came in 1811 to
explore the Columbia River for the Northwest Fur Company. A
few months later a water route was opened from Astoria up
the Columbia through Canadian waters, and overland to the
Great Lakes or Hudson Bay. During that first year, nearly
11,000 pounds of furs were reported shipped to the fur
markets of London from the Colville area.
Fort Colville, named for Lord Andrew Colville, a London
governor of Hudson's Bay Company, was built at Kettle Falls,
a few miles west of Colville. The fort functioned as the
center of trade in the Northwest. A large farm supplied
wheat, oats, barley, corn and potatoes to sustain the
personnel at the fort. (Today, both the fort and farm sites
are under water, covered by Lake Roosevelt, a part of the
Coulee Dam National Recreation Area.)
the Hudson's Bay trading post was processing 18,000 furs a
year. When the boundary of the northwest was drawn at the
49th parallel in 1846 and the territory of Washington was
established in 1853, Hudson's Bay Company, being a British
company, withdrew from Fort Colville and moved to Canada.
The War Department in 1859 ordered a military post built
just northeast of the present townsite. The post was called
Harney's Depot at first, then Fort Colville. Four companies
of the United States Infantry were stationed there. (This
second Fort Colville, located at different places at
different times, sometimes confuses visitors.)
The town of
Colville was founded in 1882 when Fort Colville was
abandoned. The first school, a hand-hewn log building,
built shortly after the founding of the town is presently
located at the Keller Historical Center within the city
STEVENS COUNTY MUSEUM
The days of the
Westward movement, potbellied stoves, and slate boards, are
long gone. Yet, their memories live on, along with the rest
of Stevens County's rich history, at the Keller Heritage
Center in Colville. Located at 700 N. Wynne, the center is
the home of the Stevens County Historical Society Museum.
The Keller House, a machinery museum, Colville's first
schoolhouse, a home-stead cabin, and a Forest Service fire
lookout are among the many buildings on display on over
seven acres of a pristine park-like setting.
The museum houses a very
extensive collection of native American artifacts of tribes
from all parts of the nation as well as all local tribes.
The rest of the building is filled with remnants of days
gone by and contains several well-organized displays of life
as it was in the younger years of Stevens County.
extensive gun display is exhibited in one area of the
museum. There are also numerous display cases depicting the
progress of the local lumber and fur trading industries,
schools, missions, agriculture and pioneer life.
included in various displays are discussions of local
history, dating from the 1811 visit of David Thompson to the
area through the era of both Fort Colville and Pinkney City
to the present day.
the Hudson Bay Co. also played a large role in the county's
early history, and they are included, along with several
prominent pioneers and "founding fathers," in exhibits
throughout the museum.
of an early-day general store is one of the highlights of
the museum. Here one can see the large variety of items
once sold in just one store. Many of the items are marked
with the enviously low prices of the time, including a
domestic sewing machine for $11.90, 68 cent waffle irons,
beef roast for 18 cents a pound, and Western Style Ladies
sidesaddles for $12.45.
Picture Gallery has a fine photo display, including many old
photos of buildings, towns, families, and agriculture,
mining, and lumbering areas.
was opened in June of 1976 by members of the Stevens County
Historical Society, who still run it today.
addition to the geological exhibit is a display of 25
samples of ash from different areas around the state,
gathered after Mt. St. Helens' eruption in 1980. Also
exhibited are artifacts dating back several thousand years
up to the 1800's when the white man came to the area.
the museum is one of Stevens county's early one-room
schoolhouses, completely equipped as it was when operating.
HISTORY OF THE KELLER HOUSE
Keller House was constructed by a Colville contractor, Mr.
D.H. Kimple, for J.H. "Harry" Young in 1910. Young had come
to Colville in 1885 from Spokane where he had operated a
stage line from Spokane to Fort Spokane.
Louis G. Keller
married Young's widow, Anna, in 1915. They resided in the
beautiful home built by Young and soon became noted for
their gracious entertaining. Lou Keller was from a wealthy
Cincinnati family, and came to Colville in 1907 and opened a
hardware business with his brother William, and L. Stannus.
Located in the Rickey
building, Stannus-Keller Hardware became one of the most
flourishing enterprises in Northeast Washington. In
addition to being a prominent merchant, Keller became a
leading figure in the growth of Colville as a commercial
center of the Northeast. He was instrumental in forming the
Colville Chamber of Commerce, and in 1910 he became its
1923 to 1944 Keller was the sole owner and operator of
Keller's Hardware. He retired and sold out to Louis
Strauss, owner of Barman's Dry Goods, in 1944.
generosity has survived him. In his will he bequeathed his
estate to the City of Colville to be used for historical
purposes and for the benefit of the public. Under the
guidance of the Stevens County Historical Society, the
Keller Historical Park has expanded its service to the
The house is presently
occupied by a curator who takes care of and shows the house
to visitors. Those wishing to tour inside the house must do
so by appointment only, from 1-4 p.m., Wednesday through
The Keller House is a
fine example of fashionable and elegant early 20th century
It was the home of two
of Colville's early civic and business leaders, John J.
Young (1854-1914) and Louis G. Keller (1881-1966), prominent
among the small group of people whose dedication and
foresight turned the frontier mining town of Colville into a
thriving commercial center.
bungalow-style house is an excellent example of the
Craftsman Movement in the design of its interior
decorations. The Craftsman Movement, which became popular
in the 20th century, was inspired by the English Arts and
Crafts Movement of the late 19th century.
The house exists today
unaltered and in exceptionally good condition, due to the
excellent care taken by the previous owners and to the
ongoing maintenance and restoration being done by the
Stevens County Historical Society. Visitors to the Keller
Estate will enjoy the interior of the house, which contains
many distinctive and noteworthy features. Some of the
original furniture is displayed in the dining room and the
guest bedroom upstairs as well as some original wallpaper.
The Society replaced some wallpaper in keeping with the
style of the home. For the most part, the interior
decoration is original and unaltered.
The City of Colville
owns the Keller House, and the property site of the Stevens
County Museum, which has a 99 yr. lease on the property
commencing on July 1, 1975. By agreement, the complete
facility is operated and managed by the Stevens County
Historical Society. The facility is funded by donations,
grants and the City of Colville.
Historic Plaque Recipients
Self-Guided Tour Book
County Historical Society
List of Area