Rose Blasou (1859-1937), born in Nuremberg, Germany, married William Osburn, a native of Lane County, when they were both working as typographers for The Oregonian during the 1890s. In 1900, they moved to Eugene and made a major career change—from the newspaper business to the hospitality industry. After leasing the Hoffman House Hotel, they built and operated the Osburn Hotel, located on the northwest corner of 8th and Pearl. It opened in May 1910. Portland’s Morning Oregonian announced “Eugene Opens New Hotel: Feast of 300 Inaugurates Handsome Up-to-Date Hostelry.”
In addition to its guest rooms, ladies’ and gentlemen’s parlors, and a huge dining room, the Osburn Hotel featured the Japanese Tea Room, decorated with furniture that Rose had collected on her trips to Asia. It was the setting for some of Eugene’s most elaborate events. On New Year’s Day of 1915, one hundred couples gathered at the hotel for Eugene’s first dinner dance—a nine-course meal followed by dancing.
The Osburns sold the hotel in 1923. William died a few years later. Rose continued to travel, mainly to Europe where she collected antiques and art objects. In 1930, she shared an apartment with Gertrude Bass Warner, whose Oriental art collection formed the basis of the UO’s original art museum collection.
Rose was active in and led a multitude of civic and nonprofit organizations during her life. She served on the executive board of the Oregon Tuberculosis Association, as president of the Fortnightly Club, and as vice-president of the Unitarian Church’s Board of Trustees (of which she and William were founding members). She sponsored many university musical events, Eugene Gleemen concerts, and other civic musical groups. She also served as a mentor for young people interested in journalism. She died in 1937, and according to her obituary she was known as “a leader in the civic, cultural and social life of Eugene.”