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The Weber Homestead & Historic Stanger House

The Jane Weber Evergreen Arboretum has a long history in the Vancouver, WA community. Learn more about the Weber family and the historic properties being renovated at the arboretum.

The Weber Homestead, originally built in the late 1920s.
The property purchased by the Weber family comprises the arboretum today.

The Weber Homestead

It all started with a neighborhood conflict about a driveway. A home-made “For Sale” sign was put up at the top of the parcel where the Arboretum is now, where Dr. Weber saw it while driving by.  He got out and looked at the house, and  gave the owner a couple of hundred dollars to secure the sale.  With the conflict with the neighbor then resolved, the seller said that was not necessary. 

Later the Webers bought the old Stanger House and three acres to the amazement of others because of the poor condition of the old historic house. The Weber’s bought the strip of land on both sides of the railroad track along the Columbia River.  Then the Weber’s owned the top half and the lower half of the parcel, but not the middle section, which was owned by a lawyer and the Stanger family and that was more conflict. The Weber’s bought additional land, and then bought the second half of that ownership, which was the balance of the parcel.  With that last purchase the parcel went from the Evergreen Highway to the Columbia River, which is the entity now known as the Weber Arboretum. 

The Webers lived on their beloved land, cared for it, improved it, entertained friends, Vince practiced dentistry and taught, Jane was a beloved teacher who taught at Hudson Bay High School, held meeting to stop the growth of the Portland AirPort and they were successful, were involved and took leadership roles in civic activities, sold handmade hats to very exclusive Portland stores, decorated their home and Stanger House with incredible creativity including fabric covered walls,  managed rental property, acquired a caboose built in Vancouver in October of 1942 and barged it on the Columbia River to the property and used it as a rental residence for a family, planned the future development of their land, had goats to eat the growth on the sides of the stream until they strayed too far,  he cut the growth on the sides of the stream with a riding lawn mower until the steep hillside became too dangerous,  and made the Stanger House a charming residence where a future Congressman and his lovely wife (Don and Carolyn Bonker) resided.  During their residence the Bonker’s bed was suspended from the ceiling by leather wagon straps as Jane had designed, and no change was allowed.

The Historic John Stanger House is believed to be the second-oldest building in the county.
Board members present a generous donation to the Arboretum Stanger House by the Honorable Frank L. and Arlene G. Price Foundation.

Left to right: Doris Hale, Mike Hale (leader), Anne Devereaux, John Caton (board president), and John Critchfield.

The Historic John Stanger House

The historic John Stanger home is also located at the Jane Weber Evergreen Arboretum.

Believed to have been constructed in 1867 on the banks of the Columbia River, the John Stanger House is a rare example of Pioneer Plank construction. The house is historically significant for its close association with the earliest period of settlement in Clark County. 

The simple two-room gabled structure built of milled cedar planks was the first permanent house of Stanger, who came to the area in 1838 as a millwright for the Hudson’s Bay Company, settled on the property by the 1840s, and received a Donation Land Claim patent for the site in 1865. A frame wing was added to the rear of the house in the late 19th century, and the house remained in the Stanger family until the 1960s. 

The Stanger House is on the Clark County Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The Webers care and their generosity and their love for this land is the result.  

Left to right: Doris Hale, Mike Hale (leader), Anne Devereaux, John Caton (board president), and John Critchfield.
The Honorable Frank L. and Arlene G. Price Foundation granted $3700 to the Arboretum specifically for updates to the Stanger House. The Foundation was unable to present the check in person this year, so they asked that we send them a picture of the check being presented to the restoration team. With a fire roaring it was the perfect setting on a soggy morning.
The old caboose in its glory days.
A barge travelling down the Columbia transported the caboose to its current resting place.
Today, the caboose sits on the waterfront parcel of the arboretum property.

The Old Caboose

There is a historic red railroad caboose on the Weber Arboretum property.  It is located on a stream that flows into the Columbia River. There is also a separate wooden deck with a viewing platform and a lovely vista of Mt. Hood and the river.

The railroad caboose is one of two constructed by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway in October of 1942 in shop facilities in Vancouver, Washington.  Because of the lack of materials and manpower at that time only two cabooses were constructed.  The cost of construction was $2929.50 each.  The two cabooses served the entire rail line system from 1942 until 1966.  The wonderful SP&S caboose was bought by  Dr. Vinson and Jane Weber for their large parcel of property.  The existence of the other caboose is unknown.

The foundation of the caboose is steel and it has a wood structure.  There is a small standing platform on the front and one on the back of the caboose.  And on each side of the caboose there are three sided  windows that were “built out” from the side so the conductor could see what was happening on both sides of the tracks from inside of the caboose.

A conductor, who was most often assigned to his specific caboose, lived in the caboose.  This was his home and where he resided.  Inside is a small  living room area, a bed, a primitive toilet, an iron stove for heat and cooking, a small ” ice box”, and a smaller cupboard and  closet.

The Webers’ caboose was transported by barge on the Columbia River to their property, and both the Webers enjoyed being and entertaining at the caboose, and at a later time they rented the caboose for housing.  One family with three children lived cozily in the caboose for a time as the Weber’s helped them get back on their feet. 

At a time the caboose was a point of pride to the SP&S Railroad and to the conductor/s who lived in it.  The years have been hard on the caboose.  Kevin Franklin, a prior member of the Weber Arboretum Board, has worked to stabilize the caboose or find a new home for it.  There are no current plans.   


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