Monday, November 15, 2021

Two Venerable Properties: Truitt Bros. Cannery for Sale and Fitts Seafood perhaps Sold

The Monday paper has a nice piece that ties the sale of a set of historic cannery buildings and land to the mixed-use zoning proposed in Our Salem.

Dehydration hype, Canning Age, January 1920

From the piece:

“We’d love to see waterfront housing — three- to four-story apartment buildings with a main commercial floor,” [owner Jordan Truitt] said. “I would love to see the existing buildings stay and the greenway stay and be repurposed.”...

He said the new Mixed-Use Riverfront zoning for the property proposed in the city’s “Our Salem” project would open the door for the Truitt brothers’ vision for a revitalized waterfront like those seen in other northwest cities.

Front page today

Previously from 2017, "Truitt Bros Building on Market and Front to Celebrate 100th."

Fitts Sold?

There have been rumors that Fitts Seafood has sold, and while its storefront is not the commanding riverfront property the cannery enjoys, it is an even more venerable enterprise, having started in 1901.

September 18th, 1902

In 1905 the paper said W. S. Fitts

has lived here about three years and came from sunny Arkansas. He has built up a fine fish, poultry, and game market on Court street, and while his Democracy is of the Southern bedrock variety, he insists that all the fish he sells shall be fresh and an up-to-date article.

In 1921, commenting on price increases over the years, he said

The farmer today is getting an average of three times as much for his stuff as he did 20 years ago. The fisherman gets fully twice for the cheapest, and four or five times as much for some select products...All this raise goes to the producer, from field or from wave.

And in 1925, in something of an advertorial:

Thirty years ago Mr. Fitts came to Salem from Alabama with nothing but a wife and a determination to make good. For six years he labored for other men and found that he was getting nowhere. He still had the wife and the determination and in addition had two children to support. After thinking the matter over Mr. Fitts decided that the only thing to do was. to go in business for himself, the only drawback to this scheme being that he had but S40 in the world which is rather a small capital upon which to found a successful business. After consulting with the wife Mr. Fitts decided to make the attempt. He spent $4 for a pair of scales, a few dollars for a counter, a few more dollars for a rack for his chickens, persuaded the local lumber yard to donate a chopping block, and opened for business. As he himself admits at that time he scarcely knew a sardine from an eel.

While it is not to be expected that prosperity smiled upon Mr. Fitts from every angle he at least continued to forge ahead until in 1916 he, with a Portland firm, were in a position to bay the Newport Ice and Fish Co. At the present time Mr. Fitts owns a controlling Interest in this business which in the past year has done in the neighborhood of a quarter million dollar business, and has shipped several carload lots of fish to both New York and Germany.

The cannery technology went from dehydration to canning, and similarly the fish counter and fishing business has undergone significant change. And of course the current Fitts site is a repurposed grocery store where a baseball diamond used to be. There might be more to say later. Hopefully the paper's new food reporter will write more about any Fitts sale, as it also would deserve attention.

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