Skip to main content

Exhibit Archive

Rose Larson
Rose Larson Courtesy of Yakima Valley Museum

In 1845, Samuel Simpson Hawkins, at 11 years old, crossed the plains with his family on their way to Oregon.  His father, Zachariah Hawkins, died on the way, and his mother continued on with the family.  At sixteen, Samuel went to the California gold mines, then later returned to Oregon.  In 1869, he married Cynthia J. Calhoon, a native of Missouri, in Benton, Oregon.   They moved to Walla Walla in 1864, then to Vancouver, Washington.  It was in Vancouver, on November 11, 1869, where their daughter Rosa Belle Hawkins was born.

In 1871, the Hawkins family moved to Tampico, in Yakima County.  On January 4, 1886, Rosa married Orlando L. Parker at the home of his father, Francis Taylor Parker.  Orlando was born on November 26, 1862 in Iowa, and had come to Yakima with his parents Francis Taylor Parker and Armeda Jane Lesh who had a farm on the Lower Naches.

Orlando and Rose had one son, Shirley DeLancey Parker, who was born in Seattle on October 22, 1886.   Orlando worked as a knot sawyer for the Sedro Lumber and Shingle Company in Seattle.

By 1895, Rose had returned to Yakima and filed for divorce. On August 9, 1897, she married Adelbert Everard Larson.


Adelbert was born on a farm in Albert Lea, Minnesota on November 26, 1862 to John Andrew Larson and Margaret Horning. His father had come from Sweden in 1858,  first to Chicago, then purchased a farm in Carlston, Minnesota by 1859.  Adelbert came west in 1883 and worked in logging camps through the Northwest.  

He settled in Yakima in 1891 and built a fortune in lumber, real estate, mines and banking.  He built the 11-story Art Deco style Larson Building in downtown Yakima.

Adelbert Larson passed away in Seattle on June 7, 1934.  In his will he left $100,000 to help fight tuberculosis and bequeathed funds for the city library, Yakima Rotary Club, The Salvation Army, and 40,000 to establish a public park near Painted Rocks.  In his will he also proposed the establishment of a public art gallery and museum for the city of Yakima and provided $100,000 to assist in its maintenance.

Larson’s will stated that his residence, Rosedell, would be provided to his wife for her home during her lifetime.  “After her demise I give, bequeath and devise this property to the City of Yakima, Washington, forever, for the purpose of a public Art Gallery and Museum, to be maintained as such forever by the City of Yakima.”

In 1937, Rose B. Larson gifted 20 acres of land to the city of Yakima for park purposes as a memorial to her husband.  Shirley Parker bought the adjacent 20 acres, built Parker field on the east half, then gave other 10 acres to Yakima Valley Junior College for a new campus.  “Parker’s gift to the junior college was made contingent on construction of a substantial building within a specific time.

Shirley Parker presents deed to Mrs. F.M. Raymond, president of the college’s board of trustees. Left to right Mrs. Larson,
Dr. Holland Wight, Mrs. Shirley Parker, Dr. W. F. Clarke,
Grover Burrows, Walter Tuesley, Elizabeth Prior, and Ray Glenn.
Courtesy of Yakima Herald

Rose & A. E. Larson Courtesy of Jerry Ward

By September of 1940 it was determined that Rosehill could not be used as a museum and that the original fund, now valued at 113,000, for maintenance of the art gallery and museum, be given to the Yakima Valley Junior College for a new building on the campus site and designated as the A. E. Larson Museum.

On October 15, 1941, in Yakima County Superior Court, the City of Yakima officially relinquished the rights to the funds, and $120,900 was turned over to the college.

By July of 1947, Shirley Parker was encouraging the construction of the college, as he had extended his contingency time to September 1, 1948.  Yakima Valley Junior College now had a $200,000 building fund of

which an increased amount of $135,000 was the gift from the Larson estate and was “contingent on incorporation of a museum room in the college building as a memorial to Mrs. Larson.”

Rose Larson passed away on January 20, 1945 in Ellensburg.

Shirley Parker Courtesy of Parker Youth & Sports Foundation

Wesley H. McCullough had been elected in 1947 to serve on the Board of Directors for Yakima Valley Junior College and had some preliminary plans for the new buildings.  In the Spring of 1948, the Yakima Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to secure funds for the new building. 

 Although the building fund was now at approximately 200,000, a mortgage bond issue was set for an additional 300,000.  Final plans were completed and contracts awarded on September 12, 1948.  Gilbert H. Moen became the general contractor for the project and ground was broken a few days later for construction.

Three buildings were built at the same time, the administration and classroom building, later to be named Prior Hall, the heating plant, and the Larson Gallery and Museum.

The Larson Museum and Art Gallery opened September 9-11, 1949.  The Yakima Herald wrote that the gallery was “built for modern shows and displays as well as a museum where relics of the past are housed. 

 Paintings may be hung on three levels on the especially constructed walls.  Extensive use of the glass brick aids in filtering natural light.”