Thomas and Clara Burroughs first arrived in what was then called Chaffinville (present-day Corvallis) sometime around 1881. They established a nursery on part of Elijah Chaffin’s land, now part of Teller Wildlife Refuge, where they grew poplar, black cottonwood, and fruit trees. In 1888 they purchased approximately six acres for $302.50, where they would build the Burroughs home later that year.
In 1888 and 1889, Marcus Daly, a Butte copper mining magnate and millionaire, bought thousands of saplings from the Burroughs to plant around his new summer home (now the Daly Mansion in Hamilton) and surrounding property. The Burroughs’ apple trees were of award-winning caliber, triumphant in best display for both winter and crab apples, according to the Western Montana News in 1894. Many of their trees still stand today at the Daly Mansion and along highways and private roads in the Corvallis area.
The Burroughs sold the house to James McDowell in 1900 for $2,000. McDowell’s wife died in 1916. He gave the place to his son, John, who sold it to Frank Johnson in 1919. The property changed hands many times before finally resting in the protective hands of Otto Teller in 1990. The house became part of Teller Wildlife Refuge in 1992.
The importance of the Burroughs House lies in its unaltered frame, which is unlike the original Slack and Chaffin log houses. This relatively unaltered frame house, built in 1888, is an intact model of a 19th century farmhouse. A new, wider staircase was added, and a new concrete foundation replaced the original field stone foundation in 1986. An entryway was added to grace the west side of the house. The charming design and layout of the house is indeed a testament to 19th century planning, so as you step inside this characteristic home, allow yourself to be transported back in time.