The Heritage Museum offers visitors the opportunity to explore our region’s rich past. Housed in a historic Neo-Classical structure, the museum has six permanent exhibits. Two floors of gallery space covering such divergent topics as the area’s Native American tribes, Astoria’s founding, immigration to Clatsop County, the local use of natural resources, and a look at the city’s often complicated relationship between vice and virtue. These exhibits are complemented by an ever-changing array of temporary and traveling exhibits.
The Liisa Penner Research Center & Archives are also found at this location.
Constructed in 1904 and 1905 to serve as Astoria’s City Hall, the building that now houses the Heritage Museum has served multiple purposes over the years. As City Hall, this building housed the police station and jail in the basement, the police court and city offices on the first floor, and the public library and council chambers on the second floor.
City Hall relocated in the late 1930s, and in 1941 the United Service Organization (USO) took control of the structure. The USO initially used the building as a much-needed dormitory for workers flooding into the area filling the jobs created by the World War II industrial boom. Once the need for housing eased, the USO converted the building into a leisure space for off-duty service members from the nearby naval base and hospital. The USO continued to occupy this building through the 1961 closure of the naval base.
In 1962, the Columbia River Maritime Museum first opened when they rented the empty building. They remained here for approximately twenty years before opening in their current location on the waterfront.
In 1982, the Clatsop County Historical Society (CCHS) first leased and eventually purchased the building. Doing so allowed CCHS to move their collection of artifacts out of the Flavel House where they had resided for approximately thirty years. The Flavel House was restored to its Victorian roots. The story of the Flavel family who lived there was finally able to be told in full. The Heritage Museum, then, became the primary source to tell the rich history of Astoria and Clatsop County. As an exhibition space and research center, the Heritage Museum is ever-evolving, offering new and exciting exhibits to the public and acquiring important artifacts for our collections.