Sunday, February 15, 2009


Another of the venerable buildings downtown is the Bush & Brey Block and Annex. It was part of a row of buildings - you can see its kinship to the Bush & Breyman building. Notes on the Bush & Brey Block Photo in the Oregon Historic Photograph Collection say that the buildings
were built in 1889 as part of a redevelopment project which replaced two blocks of wooden structures with eighteen stores and were designed by Walter D. Pugh. The project was spearheaded by Asahel Bush who inspired local bankers and merchants to become a part of the revitalization. The buildings have cast iron facades, or simulated cast iron in later changes, the cast iron coming from the nearby Salem Iron Works. Asahel Bush came to Oregon in 1850 and founded the "Oregon Statesman" newspaper, organized the Democratic Party, and after selling his paper in the 1860's, promoted many local institutions through his Ladd & Bush Bank. The Brey in the name was Moritz Brey who came to Oregon in the 1850's and within a few years was considered a capitalist; his son A.C. was bookkeeper at Ladd & Bush Bank. The building has undergone extensive remodeling from the original, both inside and outside, and the corner Queen Anne tower it was designed with was never even built. It does still have the decorative work at the ends on both levels and particularly over the entrance, and all across the width of the three-bays on the second floor.
(For more on Asahel Bush see Wikipedia and the Oregon Encyclopedia entries.)

The Salem Online History notes
The first tenant of the Bush and Brey Block was Myra Sperry, a photographer. Bryon Randall used Sperry's studio in the 1930s. Randall subsequently acquired great notoriety as a California artist. Sperry sold her business to Cherington and then to Tom Cronise who also used the studio.
The State Library Photo Collections have a number of Sperry's portraits online. They can be accessed by searching for "sperry the artist."

A terrific photo taken from the studio is this photo of the buildings across the street and one block north. You can see the Turner/Eldridge Block (site of the Chemeketa Parkade), Greenbaum's/Eldridge Block (still standing), as well as the R.M. Wade building (site of the Pearce Building), and far to the right the building that holds Venti's.

Eat Salem has a nice review of Copper John's. As for the beer specifically, they have 10 tap handles, mostly macrobrews. Three handles are devoted to Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, and Rogue Dead Guy Ale. It's nice to see three craft brews, but they are ones in wide distribution. Beer geeks will not likely be very interested. Because of the extensive remodeling, history buffs won't find much period charm.

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