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Ainsworth House & Gardens

Historic Photo of the Ainsworth House in Oregon City

Step back into history at Ainsworth House & Gardens.
Step forward into your future as a newly married couple.
Step into our space and elevate your event with grace and style.

Historic Photo of the Ainsworth House

Nearly four decades before Oregon became a state, it was a rough and tumble territory where men could make their fortunes or lose their lives in the blink of an eye. Long before Oregon became a state, Oregon gained a sense of elegance in this unexpected corner of Oregon City.

It was about 1820 but no one knows for certain. 

It began on a day when the sun was warm and nudged a pinecone scale lodged deep in the earth to grow. The tender, green shoots of a new Ponderosa Pine unfurled through the rich Oregon soil to reach up to the warm Oregon sun. During the next three decades, the tiny tree grew into a magnificent conifer, spreading its branches to offer shelter in the frigid winter and shade from the relentless summer sun. The tree became an elegant sentinel in the wilds of Oregon. 

While the tree continued to grow, half a continent away, a young boy was growing too.

Born and raised in Ohio, Ainsworth was thirteen years old when his father died. He immediately began to earn his own living as a storekeeper. When still in his teens he was employed on the Mississippi and gained rapid promotion, becoming a pilot and subsequently master of a passenger steamship plying between St. Louis and up-river points. Attracted to California in 1850 by the gold rush, Ainsworth was in Sacramento when offered the command of a new steamer that was under construction at Milwaukie, OR. Ainsworth came to the state late in 1850 to take command of the Lot Whitcomb, the first steamer built on the Willamette River, and the first steamer to ply a regular route on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. From this point Ainsworth’s mercantile activities grew in proportion to the rapid settlement of the country, and it was at this juncture that he ordered his house built south of Oregon City [in 1851]. (Quotation is from the National Register Nomination form for the mansion.)

You might have noticed that our street is Lot Whitcomb—and is named for the steamboat Capt. Ainsworth once sailed. It also happens to be the name of one of the two designers/builders of the boat – one chose the captain, the other got to name her. In his humility, he named her after himself!

Capt. Ainsworth was far more than a merchant and steamboat captain, he was a bit of a renaissance man. For that reason, he selected an architectural style which was as grand as his commercial development adventures in the Pacific Northwest. According to Architecture Oregon Style, the Ainsworth mansion is “Oregon’s best example of the Greek Revival temple form”. Built as a reminder of the temples of Ancient Greece, this style was often used for buildings of exceptional importance within the community—an imposing courthouse, an elegant church, or a mansion for a wealthy citizen. At Capt. Ainsworth’s mansion, the politically and socially powerful people of his day gathered for fabulous parties and to negotiate their next deals. Eight years older than the State of Oregon, the Ainsworth Mansion is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings and on the Oregon Historical Site Registry.

We are Christie and John Shyne. We are so happy to welcome you to the beauty, elegance, and history of the John C. Ainsworth estate where you can hold your celebration.

Since Christie’s father is originally from Metro Portland, she made many trips from California to the Pacific Northwest in her younger years. John was born and raised in Colorado. We made our first trip to Oregon together in the fall of 2015 for a college visit with our son, Andrew. At that time, we reconnected with nearby family and fell in love with the area! Since then, we made several trips each year. That number increased when our daughter, Anna, joined her brother at the University of Portland. Both our children fell in love with the PNW and we knew we had to join them! Anna will be at Ainsworth with us while she finishes school and Andrew and his wife, Jordyn, live in Seattle.

When the opportunity arose to purchase a business in Oregon, we jumped at it! Ainsworth House & Gardens couldn’t be more perfect for us! We are able to take our experience in weddings, sales, and finance and parlay it into an amazing business opportunity while getting closer to our kids and extended family!

We join an existing team of professionals who love what they do. We, and they, will always strive to make your event as memorable as it is meaningful.

Whether you are with us for a wedding, a baptism or christening, a birthday party, a vow renewal, an anniversary party, or a celebration of a life well lived, know that you have just become part of our extended family!

Welcome to Ainsworth House & Gardens! We can’t wait to meet you!

~ Christie & John

Whether you’re planning the wedding of your dreams, a special event, birthday, baptism, anniversary, celebration of life or just want the perfect setting for a get together, we invite you to explore the beauty and serenity of Ainsworth House & Gardens. 

Our grounds and facilities offer a simple, elegant and extraordinary setting for you and your guests to enjoy!

Call us today to learn more – 503-656-1894