Welcome to the Heslin House Museum & Fairview Historic Jail
Called their “house in town” by Edward Eugene “Edd” and Helen “Maude” Heslin, ECHO’s museum has had an interesting life over its 123 years, thus far. From its initial building as a boarding house, to a family home, and now a historical society headquarters, these walls have seen many changes.
Much of the house’s history has yet to be researched, but what we do know has come to us by way of family lore, a book called “On Duck Lane” by Helen Guyton Rees, and the memories of ECHO volunteers who reconstructed the home, many of whom grew up in the area.
As the stories go, the home was originally purposed to be a rooming house to service the train depot, only a block away. Its builder, a member of the larger Heslin clan, however, could not afford the price of the construction lumber, at the end. (The home also lost out to a much closer hotel and additional boarding home, built around the same time.) To make good on their debt, they sold the home to the lumber’s owner, John Patrick Heslin (J.P.).
The Heslin occupants of the home around this time is murky, but J.P. and his family did not live in the home. Rather, his eldest son, Edd, purchased the home from his father sometime before 1899, when his second child, Hazel Merle, was born.
The family lived for a time in Long Beach, CA, and had a very unfortunate trip to see the St. Louis World’s Fair before visiting family in Georgia. Edd spent most the time coming down with and recovering from typhoid fever, a prevalent ailment in the area and era. His wife, Maude, wrote of this time, “It was a great mistake and we have been sorry ever since.”
By February 1905, the family had moved back to Oregon and to their Fairview “house in town.” They also had a home “in the country,” along Sandy Road, not far from Fairview, where they lived and farmed for a time.
According to their youngest daughter, Lillian Rose, upon returning for one last family home visit when she was 96 in 2006, the house had no electricity, the outhouse was northwest of the city jail, their chicken coop was just north of the jail (of which she liked to climb to the chagrin of her parents), and the property also contained a “big barn.”
As the years passed, the house was deeded over to Edd’s sister Calla, who then left the home to Edd’s son, Edward H. “Ted” Heslin, upon her death. Ted lived in the home for most of his life. He was the last Heslin to live there.
In 1991, shortly after the death of Ted Heslin, the Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society (now ECHO), approached the Fairview City Council with a request that they purchase the Heslin home. Our group recognized the importance of a home in which members of a single family had resided for
almost 100 years, and wanted to restore the home for use as a local historic center. The City Council approved the property’s purchase, and agreed that ECHO should renovate and maintain the home as a museum.
ECHO then became caretakers for the home, which had fallen into serious disrepair. In early 1993, the organization completed placement of a new foundation under the house. This important structural step was done to protect the historical integrity of the building. In addition to the foundation, the roof was replaced, the two chimneys restored, the interior was gutted, exterior painted, and the electricity, plumbing, heating/air conditioning, insulation, sheet rock and paint were all updated. Exterior porches and gardens were also reconstructed.
In addition, all the windows were replaced with new vinyl storm windows to help us maintain the collection at an even temperature.
After 17 years of dedication and perseverance by many volunteers and gracious donations from the community, the 1893 Heslin House Museum opened its doors on May 18, 2008.
The historic home is located at 60 Main St in Fairview within Ne-cha-co-kee Park, adjacent to the Fairview City Jail. Both are next to Handy City Park, former site of Fairview’s Historic City Hall. These areas also contain a rain garden, gazebo, a historical marker, and play sets for the local children.
The museum is home to ECHO’s office and our collection of historical artifacts from many different Heslin family members and from the Fairview, Rockwood, and Wilkes areas that we represent.
The Fairview City Jail is located behind the house and playground. This unassuming structure is on the National Register of Historic Places, and contains a fun token of yesterdays gone by. See if you can spot it as you walk in.