Judge James Watson Hamilton House

photo credit: Bobbie Shots Photography

Judge James Watson Hamilton House was damaged during the Roseburg blast and rebuilt.
The house had the Queen Anne style built in 1895. William C. Knighton was the architect who designed the home. Knighton also designed Johnson Hall, the administration building at the University of Oregon that figured prominently in the movie “Animal House.” Knighton, who served as Oregon’s first state architect, also designed the Oregon Supreme Court Building and the Deepwood Estate in Salem. Knighton also designed the luxurious Governor Hotel in Portland.

The house also meets Criterion B as the primary residence associated with Judge J. W. Hamilton, whose core contribution among many in the public interest was guaranteeing jurisprudence to citizens of a wide-ranging district of western and southern Oregon as circuit court judge from 1898 to his death in 1933. Until 1905, he was the sole judge to serve the circuit which encompassed Benton, Lane, Lincoln, Douglas, Coos, and Curry Counties.


Hamilton was the son of pioneer Roseburg physician Salathiel Hamilton. He was educated at Wilbur Academy north of Roseburg and at Oregon Agricultural College before reading the law with his uncle in Empire City on the southern Oregon coast. He was admitted to the bar in 1879, settled in Roseburg, and married Olive Ostrander in 1884 after having been elected District Attorney, a post he held to 1890. While in private practice afterward he traveled to Salem in pursuit of political office and there became acquainted with the work of William Knighton. Another significant contribution was his participation on the University of Oregon Board of Regents. Filling the position formerly held by his father, he joined the board in 1901 and served to 1929, when the State Board of Higher Education was created. Judge Hamilton was the presiding regent for the last six years of his tenure. He had taken part in selecting as university president in 1902 Prince Lucien Campbell, who, together with the board of regents, led the university in its first period of dramatic growth.

Added to the NRHP as #97000141 in 1997.