The Aurora Colony ox barn was constructed about 1860 to provide an enclosed space for the colony’s oxen that had first been used to pull the wagons across the Oregon Trail. Once in Aurora, the oxen hauled the logs as the land was cleared for the village, and they helped plow the many thousands of acres that the colonists needed for their crops.
After these functions were no longer necessary the building was converted by the Fredrick Will family to a store, and during the twentieth century it became the home of the Ezra Hurst family. In 1963 Amy Hurst sold the sturdy building to the newly organized Aurora Colony Historical Society. The building was renovated, thanks to the generosity of Ruth McBride Powers and Barbara Barker Sprouse, and opened to the public as the Ox Barn Museum in 1966. The society membership voted to dedicate the new museum to the memory of Dr. Burt Brown Barker, the father of Mrs. Sprouse, and an early champion of historic preservation in Oregon.