Abner D. Gardner was born in Linn County on March 27, 1855. His parents, A. D. and Sarah (Johnson) Gardner, were overland emigrants in 1852. Educated in Scio, Gardner settled in Stayton in 1876 when he purchased a drug store, which he operated until 1899. In 1876, Gardner became postmaster. He served in this position for thirteen years. He was also a member of the city council and the school board.
In 1878, he married Minnie Schneider. They had four children; Ethel, Veva, Norma, and Abner Davis Jr.
In 1889, Gardner sold his drug store to devote full energies to the former Stayton Flour Mill, which he purchased in 1891. He also became a prime investor in the Stayton Water and Power Company, which constructed the West Stayton Ditch. He was president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, a wood excelsior plant, and an investor in the Stayton Woolen Mill.
Gardner built his Queen Anne Victorian in 1898, which was long known as the Gardner mansion. The former Abner D. Gardner House is a two-story, wood frame dwelling, which exhibits some features of the Italianate style. The structure has a low hip roof, drop edge siding, one-over-one double-hung sash windows, and a band of vertical milled boards at the eaves for decoration. The eave brackets have pendants. A veranda runs along the front elevation and has a mansard-like roof covered with imbricated shingling. A beautiful Gingko tree has graced the front for nearly as many years.