The Wayne Morse Historical Park Corporation manages and interprets small memorabilia collections relating to Wayne Morse and his family. They are separate from the larger collection of papers, recordings and other materials that document Wayne Morse’s tenure at the UO Law School, his work as a labor arbitrator, and his 24 years as a United States Senator that are housed in the University of Oregon Library’s Special Collections. For more information, visit the UO Special Collections website, or call (541) 346-3068.
WMHPC collections include Morse family and Edgewood Farm memorabilia; UO Law School and labor arbitration memorabilia; political cartoons, photo archives; political campaign and United States Senate memorabilia. Materials from our collections are used in exhibits and also displayed throughout the public spaces in the historic Morse family home.
In 2009 the WMHPC received the wonderful gift of the Lance Wood Hart oil painting that hung over the living room fireplace at Edgewood Farm for many years. Melanie Lee, Senator Morse’s granddaughter, donated the painting after receiving it from her mother. Hart (1891-1941) taught art at the University of Oregon and during that time became a mentor to famed abstract expressionist, Robert Motherwell.
The painting depicts portside buildings on the Washington coast and was painted in 1927. As it was unsigned, we enlisted the aid of Professor Kenneth O’Connell, former head of the UO Art Department, to verify the painting’s provenance and identify someone to clean it. Ken O’Connell’s thorough investigation determined that a small Hart oil sketch for our painting was in the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum collections. Once the painting was verified, we proceeded to have the painting restored to its original condition following decades of darkening accumulations from fireplace use. The painting was sent to the Black Mountain Studio in Springfield where Jim Mayner and Pat Sims Mayer worked on the painting in September.
The painting once again hangs above the living room fireplace. The Mayers did a superb job returning it to its former glory. Ken O’Connell’s research and advice were invaluable. The next time you visit Edgewood Farm make it a point to view our restored Lance Wood Hart painting!
Learn more about Lance Wood Hart and the painting by clicking on this PDF document based on information from Ken O’Connell.
The Wayne Morse Historical Park Corporation recently received Senator Morse’s chair that he used on the Senate floor from 1945 to 1968. We are very grateful to Peter Eaton, the eldest Morse grandson, for this generous gift. Peter serves on the advisory board at The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the University of Oregon and has been of great assistance to our own mission of promoting and preserving the legacy and history of Senator Morse.
The chair is in amazingly good condition considering the 24 years it was used on the Senate Floor. The Morse grandchildren took great delight in being allowed to play on it when Senator Morse took them to the Floor before daily sessions. Peter Eaton was the grandchild who took the most pleasure in this so it was not by accident that he had the chair for many years.
This handsome piece now sits behind the desk in the study at the Wayne Morse Family Farm. It is one of the most important pieces of Morse history to be procured by our board. KEZI in Eugene aired a news story and interview with Melanie Lee, Morse’s eldest grandchild, on April 29, 2015. The chair was proudly displayed for the first time at the WMHPC May 2015 Open House.
Wayne Morse’s study is at the front and center of the family home at 595 Crest Drive both literally and figuratively. This room was originally the music room and playroom for the Morse daughters. During the many years that Morse was Senator, much of his thoughtful deliberation and speech writing occurred in this room when he came to Oregon. Many of the furnishings are intact from those days. One is instantly transformed to bygone times upon entering the study.
Without a doubt Wayne Morse contemplated pressing issues of the times such as civil rights, American involvement in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, John and Robert Kennedy in this room.
A very young Ron Wyden was a frequent visitor during Morse’s 1974 campaign. Wyden returned to Edgewood Farm some 30 years later, now serving in the same United States Senate seat Morse held. He found a 1974 telephone message he’d left for Morse among memorabilia on the study desk.
Another visitor was Senator Ernest Gruening from Alaska who together with Morse cast the only two “no” votes against the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Gruening visited his friend and former colleague in 1972, joining him on the campaign trail.
The entire Wayne Morse Family Farm is a special place historically. At our yearly open house, tours are given by people who worked for or around Senator Morse along with family members. This study is always the focal point of our events. It is one of the ways we promote the legacy of Wayne Morse.
2012 Brings Something New
WMHPC Collections focused in 2012 on upgrading exhibits and display placards throughout Morse family home.
In the entry hall, visitors now enjoy new display panels about Edgewood Farm and the WMHPC. The Farm display includes a 1935 photo of Edgewood Farm, copies of the original deeds for the property, and a framed trio of house plan sketches with notes by architect Wallace Hayden. Throughout the house, room placards now carry early photos of the room or, when possible, photos of the Morse family in the room. The newly designed placards help visitors envision the Morse home in the late 1930s.
Downstairs in the Exhibit Room a new exhibit, “Vote for Morse!” has been developed. Featured are photographs, campaign and press materials from Wayne Morse’s 1972 campaign to regain his U. S Senate seat. The display provides an overview of the Morse campaign as well as a glimpse of national political activities and issues in 1972.
Wayne Morse had been out of politics since his ill-fated 1968 reelection bid. Issues of the day, especially what he described as an “unconstitutional usurpation of power” by Richard Nixon and the Executive Branch, pulled at him. He waged a vigorous grass roots campaign with an energetic travel schedule to reconnect with Oregon voters young and old. In the primary he again faced Robert Duncan his primary challenger from 1968. He prevailed in 1972 by a greater margin, but ultimately fell short in the general election against incumbent Mark Hatfield.
Included with the “Vote For Morse!” exhibit are a selection of cartoons from WMHPC’s Wayne Morse Political Cartoon Collection. In a display entitled “Switching Parties,” these cartoons focus on Wayne Morse’s independent course within the Republican Party and his 1952 decision to leave the Party. For several years, Morse served in the Senate as an Independent aligned with the Democrats. In 1955, he formally registered as a Democrat.
WMHPC Collections 2011
WMHPC Collections shifted focus in 2011, taking a break from inventory to address several infrastructure matters: cleaning, reorganizing and restoration.
Jan Mueller, Collections Manager, combed through WMHPC materials dating back to our 1975 incorporation. The goal: to review and consolidate Corporation files and retire them to a basement storage area in moisture-proof containers. Duplicate copies and decades-old bank statements were removed and shredded. Files donated by long time Board members are being integrated with Corporation records. This effort will provide a comprehensive archive of WMHPC’s 36-year effort to promote the legacies of Wayne Morse and provide stewardship for the historic family farm in Eugene.
At the same time, WMHPC and Collections storage spaces in the Farm house basement and office were evaluated, revealing the need for a substantial cleaning and reorganization effort. City of Eugene projects for furnace replacement and roof repair at the house provided the impetus to begin the project. Board members moved materials from the basement into the Farm garage, transported truckloads of excess materials to reuse sites, recycled numerous file boxes of paper. Work continues.
Restoration of Morse family furniture continued as well, with two additional pieces sent to Foss Furniture Clinic in Eugene. The dining room sideboard and the desk from the study both had damage from moisture and exposure to sunlight. Veneer was repaired, and surfaces re-stained. Foss’s repairs gave them new life…for another 75 years!