For approximately 5,000 years, the Willamette Valley wherein Albany lies were inhabited and hunted by Kalapuya Indians.
The donation Land Claim Act of the 1800′s granted acreage to each white male citizen who was at least 18 years of age. Hiram Smead and Abner Hackleman staked their claims at the site where the Calapooia River meets the Willamette River.
Walter and Thomas Monteith purchased the Smead claim in 1848 for $400 and a Cayuse pony. The town of Albany, Oregon was christened in honor of the Monteiths’ hometown of Albany, New York.
The Monteith’s built and lived in, Albany’s first frame house in 1849. It is available for tours through the Monteith Society.
In 1850, Abner Hackleman’s son Abram laid out 70 acres on the east side of Albany for future development. Also in 1850, Albany `s first post office was set up and a church group was established. In 1851, Albany was designated as the county seat and the town school was established. A two story octagon courthouse was built in 1853 on land donated by the Monteiths where today the current courthouse still sits.
Albany’s first newspaper, the Oregon Democrat, founded by Delazon Smith who became one of Oregon’s first US Senators, is today the Albany Democrat-Herald.
The steamboat “Multnomah” came to town in 1852, the stage in 1860, the locomotive in 1871 (by 1921, 28 passenger trains left daily in five different directions), the highways and airport in the first half of the 1900s, and ultimately the freeway.
Historians and architects credit Albany with having one of the largest and most varied collections of historic buildings in Oregon. This collection represents styles from 1840 through the 1930′s and is concentrated in an eight square block area. The US Department of the Interior lists the three Albany Historic Districts on the National Register of Historic Places.