A Brief History of the R. R. Thompson House
When R. R. Thompson began construction of his stately home in 1936, the United States, under the economic policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was recovering from the Great Depression. FDR’s activism and optimism were contributing to a renewal of the national spirit. Radio was king, with families gathering around in the evening to listen to news broadcasts, a favorite singer or comedy program. In sports, American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens dominated the Summer Olympics in Berlin, capturing four gold medals and striking a blow to Nazi propaganda.
This is part of the legacy of the 1930s when Mr. and Mrs. Thompson built the Carlton home which today is the R. R. Thompson House Bed & Breakfast. Mr. Thompson was the namesake and grandson of the wealthy and influential Oregon pioneer, Robert R. Thompson, also known as R. R. The elder Thompson made his fortune in river commerce, founding the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, the first enterprise to move goods on the Columbia River.
The McMinnville News Register described the influence and power of this early Oregonian: “Probably the single most prominent among the family patriarchs was a man who amassed a fortune building frontier infrastructure, then set his sights on the area’s rural riches: Robert R. Thompson, known as R. R.” (February 17, 2007). Indeed, R. R. acquired 2,500 acres of farmland a few miles west of Carlton, property his son Lewis, father of the younger R. R., managed and later purchased. The enormous wealth of the elder R. R. required someone to manage it, and his grandson R. R. was entrusted with that role.
The young R. R. and his wife became prominent members of the Yamhill county social scene, hosting many parties in their beautiful federal-style home. The property has been well preserved. In the years since the Thompsons lived here, the property has known only three owners.
Roselyn and Mike opened the R. R. Thompson House to guests in 2007. It has been remodeled to offer modern amenities, all the while taking care to preserve the home’s historic character. The polished mahogany woodwork, golden fir floors, and many of the lighting fixtures are original to the house, creating a warm and relaxing atmosphere.