Snapp House preserves local medical history


The familiar Queen Ann Victorian house at the confluence of Silk Creek and the Coast Fork of the Willamette River is a museum maintained by the Prospectors and Gold Diggers Club to showcase early medical practices. It is Cottage Grove’s only Victorian-era house open to the public and next week it will be decorated in its holiday finery for the annual Dr. Snapp’s Holiday Bazaar, Dec. 1-3. 

Built in 1886, by one of the town’s early doctors for his wife, it was originally located near the corner of South River Road and Main Street. In 1966, the Lane County Housing Authority purchased the property to construct Riverview Terrace, a senior housing complex. To make way for what was to become the tallest building in town,  nicknamed the High Rise by locals, the shabby Victorian home was destined to become a “burn to learn” exercise for the fire department. 

Local historian and business leader Ray Nelson persuaded club members to purchase the house from Lane County for $1 and then raised the funds to relocate it to a nearby city-owned property. Nelson’s original vision was to create a replica of the “village era” of Cottage Grove on that property to attract freeway travelers to stop and visit. The Dr. Snapp House was the first and only phase of that effort and sits today on the north end of Prospector Park near the Swinging Bridge that connects Slabtown to Lemati.

The booster club traces its origin to Oregon’s Centennial Celebration in 1959; when Grovers organized an elaborate observance of the town’s early history. Everyone had such a grand time a decision was made to create a community organization devoted to preserving local history.  This resulted in the establishment of the annual Bohemia Mining Days festival in mid-July. In 1964, the club began BMD’s legendary Miners’ Breakfast on The Mountain. The popular event attracts nearly 1,000 diners to Bohemia Saddle Park, 38 miles southeast of town in the Bohemia Mining District.

With the goal of “prospecting better things for Cottage Grove”, the Prospectors and Gold Diggers Club uses revenue from its summer Breakfast on the Mountain and its Christmastime bazaar to maintain the historic house, to support community organizations and to provide scholarships to high school graduates.

Next weekend, as part of The Grove’s community-wide Holiday Open House, the beautiful historic house filled with antiques and 19th Century medical equipment and artifacts will also feature sale items from 50 cents to $50. Holiday shoppers can enjoy free treats as they browse for unique and tasty holiday gifts.  Bazaar hours are: Friday from 4-8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 360 S. River Road.