Tuesday, May 11, 2010

David Duniway's 1959 Centennial Guide to Salem

In 1959 Oregon's centennial was a much bigger deal than our sesquicentennial was last year.

One of our correspondents, RC, has an amazing eye for junk store finds and discovered a terrific artifact from that year, this Salem State Centennial Guide. Its chief author was David Duniway, a name all lovers of local history should know. Thanks RC for sharing!

Duniway was the State Archivist from 1946 to 1972. He founded the Marion County Historical Society and was Director of Mission Mill. In his honor Mission Mill annually gives out the "David Duniway Historian" award. After he retired he continued to research and publish local history and worked to preserve historical buildings, most notably in the way he championed the significance of Deepwood and its preservation. Before that he took a great interest in Bush House. Duniway also self-published several books, including Dr. Luke A. Port, Builder of Deepwood; Glimpses of Historic South Salem; and South Salem Past.

(He was also the grandson of Abigail Scott Duniway, and Poetry & Popular Culture is running a fascinating series on poems in her newspaper during the 1870s.)

In so many ways and instances, if it's still around today, we can thank him.

Here's one of his pages from Glimpses of Historic South Salem. The house is architecturally not all that distinguished, but it's old for the neighborhood - and it's got a sad, sad story about the dissolution of a marriage.
Sunday, March 7, 1911, tragedy struck.
[son] Raymond was about to be sent to his father, and Mrs. Reeves could not face her future. She drank carbolic acid, and after hours of agony died.
Every time we go down Saginaw, we think about the suicide. (Not unlike that of Pauline Philips.)

The Salem Guide has little melodrama; it's much more sober and dry as befits a state occasion. But as we will see, in some places emerge hints of an elegiac tone. Already in 1959 Duniway had experienced the loss of notable buildings, many of them within the recently passed decade.

The Guide starts, naturally enough, with the Capitol. 14 of the Guide's 36 pages are, in fact, devoted to details, art, and architecture in the Capitol.

The Willamette campus gets another large chunk.

Finally, on page 24 we get the downtown historic district - though of course this precedes its official designation. It contains a great bit of trivia on the Saffron Supply Company building:
Here Herbert Hoover, then in his teens, served his uncle Dr. Henry J. Minthorn in the Oregon Land Company, a suburban development project which brought an important group of Quakers to the hills south of the city.
We knew about the Hoover House on Hazel and Highland (more on Hoover's Salem time here), but not about this connection to the Saffron Supply building!

In the discussion of the Belluschi-designed Marion County Courthouse, Duniway alerted us to a common misunderstanding, reproduced in several online articles about Salem history, which we have also inherited and unfortunately passed along. Wilbur F. Boothby was part of the construction firm, but not the designer, of the second Marion County Courthouse. The designer was most likely W.W. Piper. (For more on the history of the three county courthouses see this article.)

The discussion of Ladd & Bush Bank is interesting because, writing in 1959, Duniway would have no knowledge that the cast iron facade of the Ladd & Tilton Bank in Portland would come to Salem in 1967 and be preserved. (The Cafe Unknown piece on the cast iron architecture is really interesting - so go check it out!)

On the next two pages are bits on areas around the Reed Opera House and the intersection of Ferry and Commercial. The note about the Holman building site is sad.
Here the legislature met from 1857 to 1876 and here were housed the Supreme Court...the building later served as a lodge hall and was eventually condemned as a hotel. Its destruction in 1951 went almost unnoticed outside of Salem despite the fact that it was the scene of the early development of state government in Oregon.
In front of the Reed, though, the electric streetcar is pretty great!

The Guide also includes a note about the brewery! About the Marion/Chemeketa/Willamette Hotel Duniway says
The building has been modified a number of times over the years and recently there has been added to it, on the site of the city's old brewery, a modern motel.
The brewery was demolished in 1955. This photo is from after 1953, when the brewery was closed. Sicks' Brewing Company signage is missing, and the upper floor appears to show signs of incipient demolition. Next to the large brewery structure you can still see the old Capital Brewery building that you see on our blog header. Its windows are all bricked up.

(Sicks' Brewery from Salem Library Oregon Historic Photo Collection)

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