Monday, May 20, 2019

Marion Car Park has a Fancier Pedigree than we Thought

Well, we might think that we have an accurate count of buildings associated with Pietro Belluschi, but that would apparently be wrong. Hiding in plain sight is a minor building with ties to him.

Marion Car Park from inside the Conference Center
Guess what?! It's a Belluschi!
It looks like the Marion Car Park, which will be demolished, was designed by Belluschi's firm. A brief note from November 1950 says it will be "of modernistic lines...[and] designed by Pietro Belluschi, Portland architect."
November 14th 1950

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mystery of the Asylum Cemetery Continues

Apparently fake? No burials found in 1959 off-site
after the headstones had been moved
from the hospital grounds
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
In the City Manager's update this week, there's a note about new complications for the housing project at Yaquina Hall on the former North Campus of the State Hospital.
City and Salem Housing Authority staff have been working with DAS on acquiring Yaquina Hall and the park property. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services’ environmental review process for the North Campus required archeological and historic review. The consultation has resulted in information that the area to the north of the Yaquina property was once a cemetery. It has been requested that DAS perform ground penetrating radar testing to determine if there are any human remains in this area. DAS has retained a consultant and this work is expected to be completed by June 30. Given the historic and archaeological issues, the earliest the City can close on the Yaquina and park properties would be January 2020. We will have a much better understanding of the options, requirements, and timelines at the beginning of July after the ground penetrating radar work is completed.
The best available information has been that the Asylum Cemetery was fully decommmissioned. In 1991 the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society published a booklet, "The Asylum Cemetery, 1883-1913, Salem, Marion County, Oregon," and historians work off this end date of 1913. There were additional stories in 1959 about a trove of headstones off-site, seemingly disconnected from any burials (image at top), but at that time no new information suggested there were still burials in the ground.

Cremains in the new Columbarium
(OSH Memorial Pamphlet)
Subsequent rounds of research this decade for the Columbarium at the hospital did not turn up evidence that the 1913 date and decommissioning was in error, though there will still some gaps in the record for burials and people. (Update: The gap is very big: There are over 1500 burials unaccounted for. See comment with reference to Oregonian piece.)

Friday, May 17, 2019

First Presbyterian Observes 150th Anniversary this Year

While we consider the prospect of the IKE Box moving the former mortuary building across the street, their prospective new neighbors had their own move in 1958 and this year are celebrating 150 years as an institution.

Moving First Presbyterian Church, October 1958
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
100 years ago, First Presbyterian celebrated a 50th anniversary. It and an entirely different church building was front page news. A piece on May 12th in 1919 notes that
on May 15th this church was established in Salem with a group of 20 charter members...[it was] organized in 1869 as a United Presbyterian church, with Rev. T. J. Wilson as its first pastor, but in the year 1872 it changed its denominational affiliation.
On the 16th they counted more than 200 people at the celebration.

May 16th, 1919
The church building in which they were celebrating during 1919 was built in 1894, and in 1928 when the congregation built their current church (yet on a different site!) the old Presbyterian Church became a Lutheran Church, whose successor is St. Mark Lutheran, whose current church is one of the great mid-century modern buildings in Salem.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

HLC Should ask for More Time and More Public Conversation on Alley Names

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets on Thursday the 16th, and they've got several items of interest.

Bar, saloons, and brewing are important!
Eugene Eckerlen is a candidate name.
(March 23rd, 1909)
The most compelling item is the Main Street Association's proposal for alley names.

Downtown alleys proposed for naming
And what is clear from the Staff Report on the research and naming ideas is that the whole thing is rushed, at least the public portion of it. The project is a good one, but it needs more time, more research, and more public participation. There's no need for a "Boaty McBoatface" kind of popular input (and subversion), but the project needs to cast a wider net of people and ideas, and develop a slate that has actual and broad appeal. In the present list, there is a risk of confecting a sign-board, Potemkin set of notions about the city and its history. The process is also cliquish and too top-down right now. City Staff have been involved since last summer, and only now is it going public. This is bad process, and it should be opened up.

HLC should not give its assent to this first draft for a slate of names.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

415ppm and a Bust for the Bike More Challenge

A little buried in the paper this morning is a thin column with news that we've hit the latest round increment of terrible, 415 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

On the front page is a pull quote from Governor Brown during her address to the Salem Chamber of Commerce:
The harsh reality is future generations will judge, not on the fact of global climate change, but on what we've done to tackle it.
Those are fine words, and true enough.

But passage of the cap and trade bill will be far from sufficient. It's merely a baby step, and we will have to do more, much more.

For starters, the Governor and ODOT will have to renounce planning for more driving. There's no way we hit our climate goals with increases in driving.

This kind of disconnect is pervasive.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Looking Closer at Project Applications for 2021-2026: At the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 14th, and they're in a moment of process: they've got discussion on the agenda, but no big action items.

However, the minutes from April's meeting show one of the giant, almost structural problems at the MPO: The problem with driving and greenhouse gases. There's just no explicit awareness of the contradiction and trade-off, even among the technical staff.

More and faster driving? Or less Carbon pollution?
The Great Impasse (from the April minutes)

The MPO is just in deep, deep denial
The facts are out there, and at least they could say, "we know driving is the biggest driver of local greenhouse gas emissions, but because people are so attached to driving, we are not going to do anything about it. We are also not going to tell the public very much about how driving is a problem. We cannot discourage driving. We looooove driving."

We're just doomed, aren't we.

As part of the discussing and vetting process, in the packet are some additional questions on the project applications for the $15 million or so in funds from 2021-2026. They'll be discussing these and making a preliminary ranking.

Here are some of the more interesting bits.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

City Council, May 13th - Minor Updates on OSH North Campus and UGM Shelter

Council meets on Monday, and this week it's the formal "information items," rather than action items that are of greatest interest. Status reports on the North Campus of the State Hospital and on the new UGM Shelter lead the way.

Proposed path system at the North Campus
They're just lines on a map
At the North Campus of the State Hospital, the Planning Commission approved the first development. It will have single-family lots on Park and D, but no driveways on Park or D, and the interior streets with cul-de-sacs will function as an alley. The multi-family portion will just have a parking lot system, and the provision for "pedestrian connections" looks problematic. Once it is built out, we will mourn the fact that the grid breaks down and there will not be a full set of interior streets. There will be lines on the map to "connect" Center and D Streets, Park and 25th, but these will not be very effective, and will be a set of Potemkin connections instead. If you are walking in the neighborhood, you probably won't feel "invited" onto the path. Instead, you will skirt the development and keep on Park, 25rd, and D. Streets signal "public space" in a way the path system does not, and the paths will look private, even though there will be public access easements.

North Campus: These amended conditions look hinky
The total effect will be for a compound, and the project does not appear headed to a vibrant outcome.  It's dull.

UGM will retain the green cottage, but demolish the other two
(via Streetview)
The Planning Administrator approved some changes to the UGM Shelter project on Division and Commercial. Two lots that had been excluded, with a century old cottage and a boxy storefront, will now be purchased by the UGM, and they needed to be folded into the site plan. Plans indicate the cottage will be saved, but the storefront demolished. The way the project greets Division Street looks nice and human and reasonable. Hopefully the businesses will be able to move and will not be adversely impacted. (Update: It's been appealed.)