The agenda item's a little vague, and maybe it's just a topic for discussion and not a formal presentation - "Docomomo Oregon & Association of Preservation Technical Workshop." No matter. It's a timely topic.
|Post's Carnegie Library (1912), Belluschi's YWCA (1952),|
and Belluschi/Doyle Pacific Telephone and Telegraph (1930)
But for most of us, Historic Preservation's main context has been for buildings from before World War II, especially those from the 19th century. That's a legacy from the previous generation's pioneering work.
It's time to think about mid-century modern - even as autoist as it often is!
|Pietro Belluschi's 1946-8 First National Bank:|
Demolition permit (again) issued last fall
In the intervening years, the fate of the First National Bank of Pietro Belluschi has come to look pretty much sealed. It's cooked. Multiple times a demolition permit for it has been reauthorized, and there has been opportunity for someone to step up with a new use or a purchase of it. So while in a strict sense you could say it remains in danger, it would take an extraordinary effort to save it. Prospects for its preservation seem wholly theoretical at the moment.
Belluschi's Breitenbush Hall at the State Hospital is in process of demolition.
So it's time to focus on other Belluschi buildings and to think about other examples of mid-century modern in Salem. (For more on Belluschi in Salem, see notes here.)
State Street between Winter and Cottage (top image) has the most perfect ensemble of buildings on a block face in Salem: The George Post Carnegie Library of 1912, the Belluschi YWCA of 1952, the Belluschi/AE Doyle Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building circa 1930, and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art from the mid-1960s. These buildings are very nicely proportioned, human-scaled, and present a delightful variety in detail. (It's too bad they face Willson Park, the telephone building' State Street entry has no public-facing use, and together they are a little orphaned from the main blocks of downtown. There is a latent dynamism in the collection.)
Only the Belluschi YWCA, however, languishes without a use.
Unlike the bank building, it greets the street with a front porch and, so far as these modernist boxes go, has an inviting entry. It's an interesting building. It deserves institutional attention for preservation.
|St. Mark's Lutheran|
And of course there is the Brutalism of City Hall and the Library from 1972.
|Brutalist rhythm at City Hall, via DOCOMOMO|
Retrieving, cataloguing, and celebrating mid-century modern in Salem is a worthwhile project, and it's great to see the Historic Landmarks Commission start to consider it in any detail.
* And if you don't need the distraction, here's a little Cold War nostalgia for you:
|Shelter at the Elsinore, 1965|
(Salem Library Historic Photos)