Sunday, December 25, 2011

State Street's Bayne Block Built with Hops, Shows Knighton Charm

Ever the promoter, Mary Lou Zeek has started a holiday blog for the commercial microdistrict on State Street. Does it need it? Perhaps because State Street is one-way and out-bound here, it's in the shadow of the Reed Opera House and the corner of Liberty and Court just one block away and served by in-bound Court Street. Whatever the reason, State Street does seem sleepier than it should be.

State street has, we think, the most interesting procession of buildings between Front and 12th. They run from the very earliest brick structures from the late 1860s and 1870s through all the phases of style and commercial development. Down the street, for example, next to the Beaux-Arts Carnegie Library of George Post is the modernist YWCA building* of Pietro Belluschi. It's not just the businesses that deserve fame!

Recently the Historic Preservation League of Oregon was in town, and they checked out the Farrar building of Fred Legg (its corner is on the right in the photo) and the excellent alley between Liberty and Commercial. Another shot of the alley at night made the rounds on twitter.

On the west side of the alley (left) is the Bayne block, housing Zeek's own gallery and William Bragg's photo studio. It could be argued this is the creative center of Salem - at the very least, it's a notable hotspot!

The Bayne building is understated, yet it is surely one of the more charming of the modest brick commercial buildings downtown. The brick detailing and the upper windows show a real harmony. (The lower storefront windows have almost certainly been modernized and don't show the same charm.)

It is, in fact, an early design by William C. Knighton, designer of Deepwood, the Supreme Court Building, and a contributor to the 1892 remodel of the Capital National Bank building.

Hops funded the building and upon completion it housed several hop brokers. Bids were opened on March 24th, 1902, and in September construction was complete.

In the Journal of Tuesday, September 9th, 1902 a notice ran:

Geo. Bayne's Creditable Business Property is Occupied

The fine new brick block, recently constructed on State street near Commercial for George Bayne, is completed and occupied. It is one of the most creditable business blocks of the city and not only bespeaks the enterprise of its owner but reflects credit upon those who were identified with its construction.
It is a modern two-story brick building, with pressed brick front, of a substantial character and is equipped with all conveniences. On the ground floor there are two large airy and well-lighted store-rooms while the second floor has been provided with four suites of elegant offices, every one of which opens on a large hall. One of the large store-rooms will be jointly occupied by L. E. Gardner, the umbrella and bicycle repair man, and C. E. Bunce, the barber. The other room on the main floor has been rented, also, but the tenants do not desire to disclose their name and the character of their business until they are ready to open up which will be in the near future. Three of the office suites on the second floor are occupied. John Bayne, the lawyer and a brother of the owner of the building, has removed his law office to one of the front suites. Another will be occupied by B. O. Shucking and a third by S. Ramsey & Co., of Seattle, hop merchants.

The architect who prepared the plans and specifications for the block and who personally superintended the work of construction, is W. C. Knighton, a former resident of Salem who is now located in Portland where he is enjoying a large patronage. Mr. Knighton is a conscientious and fair-dealing man and to place your business in his hands insures the return of a full worth of the investment. R. N. Ely, of this city, is the contractor who constructed the building. Mr. Ely is one of Salem's largest contractors and the building is substantial evidence, in itself, of his thorough workmanship. This new block is a distinct credit to that part of the business district in which it is located.
Here's Bayne's biography in Gaston's Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912, Volume 4:
GEORGE BAYNE, starting out in life as a farm hand, became in the course of years a successful agriculturist and at the time of his death in 1911 owned a valuable farm property in Multnomah county. He was born in Scotland, on the 1st of February, 1869, a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Bayne, also natives of Scotland. The parents left their native land and settled in America in 1871, locating first in Iowa, where the father's death occurred. Subsequently the mother removed to Oregon but later went to Georgia, where she passed away. They were the parents of ten children, five of whom survive.

George Bayne acquired his education in the common schools and at the same time laid the foundation for his agricultural career by assisting on the home farm until he started out independently. He ever showed the salient characteristics of his Scotch ancestry by his energy, industry and thrift. At the "time of his death he owned one hundred and sixty acres of land near Burlington, which he had cultivated earlier in life and which is still the property of his widow although they never resided upon it. By careful and judicious management his property proved so highly productive and profitable, that later in life he was able to purchase considerable real estate, including a valuable business block and a substantial home in Salem. Until 1909 he made his home upon a farm of fifty-three acres, located four miles east of Salem, and engaged most successfully in hop growing.

On the 20th of April, 1902, Mr. Bayne was married to Miss Mary Smith, whose birth occurred in Marion county and who is a daughter of James and Isabelle (Low) Smith, both of whom are also natives of Scotland. They came to America in 1874 and located in Marion county, upon the farm where they resided until their removal to Polk county, where they are still living. To them four children were born, namely: Mrs. Bayne, James, Albert and Isabelle. To Mr. and Mrs. Bayne one son was born, Albert Edward, whose birth occurred on the 11th of March, 1903. Mrs. Bayne is now residing in Salem, having retained her home there since her husband's death.

Mr. Bayne was always interested in matters relating to the civic welfare and never neglected the duties of citizenship, although he neither sought nor desired office. He always kept well informed on the issues of the day and gave his support to the measures which he thought would be most influential in producing good government. He was devoted to his family, was a good neighbor and a faithful friend. He was sociable by nature and enjoyed the companionship of those of congenial tastes and interests. He readily recognized the good in others and was loved by all who knew him. He left a comfortable competence to his family and also an untarnished name, a valued inheritance even more to be cherished than riches.
Sometime we'll write more about the procession of buildings and fashion on State Street. It may, more than any other street in Salem, tell the City's story.

* Here's the house demolished for the Belluschi Y. Perhaps we'll return to this topic, but we aren't sure we miss the house all that much. It's too bad the house couldn't be moved, but it's possible the Y is a more interesting building. We find it meaningfully middle: Solid and interesting, it's better than pedestrian Belluschi - much better than the courthouse and the bank on Chemeketa and Liberty - but not the best Belluschi. Hopefully it will be loved and used again - though perhaps the interior offers issues that make this more difficult. At any rate, this is an instance of demolition that doesn't make us howl in outrage and loss: The new building offers verve in the procession of buildings along the block, and it's hard to argue that institutions like the Y don't deserve to modernize.

What upsets us most, as you will have doubtless seen, is replacement of a building by an empty lot. That's the death of a city.