Will Family Washhouse

The Will Family Washhouse or Summer Kitchen

A washhouse, which is sometimes known as a summer kitchen, is common in hot and humid climates.  The Will Family Washhouse, however, was uniquely utilized in Oregon by the Aurora Colonists.  The building provided a separate space to work on the hot, steamy and messy jobs, such as the washing and drying of clothes and the making of sausage, sauerkraut and apple butter.

These jobs, referred to as “frolics”, often engaged several families as they completed the tasks necessary to support the needs of their own family as well as the broader goal of producing for the colony in general.

This house, associated with the Leonard Will family, was donated to the historical society by their descendants in 1977, and moved from across the street to become part of the museum complex. A sausage stuffer is on permanent exhibit in the Will Family Washhouse as an example of the items used by the colonists.