Among the numerous businesses once occupying the area south of Fifth Street now covered by the freeway, Charles W. Slocum’s general merchandise store was one of the most prosperous.
Slocum operated his store at Third and Main Streets until 1900, when his clerk, Charles D. Hayes, began buying out the business.
In the late 1850s, Slocum arrived in Vancouver and got a carpentry job at the military post. By 1860 he was in the general merchandising business with James Crawford, who was his partner for about eight years. Slocum married Laura Riggs in 1861.
During the ’60s, Crawford and Slocum expanded their business to Walla Walla, Lewiston and Boise, the latter two in the new Idaho Territory. The mining population was growing rapidly near those communities.
About 1869, Slocum decided to drop his activities east of the mountains, and he concentrated on storekeeping at Vancouver.
Slocum died in 1912 and his wife in 1914. Most of their property was split among nieces and nephews.
F.W. Leadbetter bought the old Slocum home in 1929, and the building was used for a while as offices of Columbia River paper mill.
The Slocum house was moved to Esther Short Park in 1966, and was opened as a theater in 1972. The building is home of the Old Slocum House Theater Company, headed by Hermine Decker.