Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Belluschi Bits - And what about Hallie Ford?

Breitenbush Hall at the State Hospital is impossible to photograph.

It's organized as a thin, shallow strip along a long, long axis: All width and no depth. Presumably there's one long axial corridor with rooms on either side.

Half of Belluschi's Breitenbush Hall - A shallow strip, super wide
It's also set back pretty far from the sidewalk and with lots of trees to hide it from casual view - and to make shadows for a picture!

As people think about redeveloping the north campus parcel, the building has some challenges for retail and might be better suited for education or small office space or some other commercial use. Maybe you could create studio/1br apartments.  It's an interesting challenge for a distinctively shaped building - though one whose architectural detailing isn't perhaps the most compelling.

A Belluschi Bell?  Other Mysteries!

Just where is the Belluschi Bell Building?  In her book on Belluschi, Meredith Clausen says that Belluschi designed several buildings for the phone company around the state, including one in Salem.  But she does not specifically discuss a particular one in Salem.  Several news articles also reference a telephone company building in Salem he designed.

December 5th, 1976
This piece from 1947 suggests a Belluschi telephone building was already built here.

August 31, 1947
The Hallie Ford museum seems like a likely suspect! 

Hallie Ford North Exterior from State Street
According to Hallie Ford materials, however, Belluschi didn't design the museum building:
In 1996, with the support of long-time benefactor Hallie Ford and her foundation, the Ford Family Foundation in Roseburg, Oregon, Willamette purchased the vacant US West Communications building adjacent to campus. Originally constructed in the mid-1960s for Pacific Northwest Bell, the International style building was designed by Salem architect James Payne. Willamette enlisted Portland’s Soderstrom Architects, under the supervision of architect Jon Wiener, to transform the former telephone company building into a museum of art featuring permanent and temporary galleries, collection storage spaces, a lecture hall, and offices.
So did Payne remodel a Belluschi? The Brutalist thing behind it is too new, I suspect. The Art-Deco-y tile thing next door is too old.  Maybe the Brutalist concrete box replaced it? Does anyone know?

Clausen also mentioned very briefly women's apparel shop Belluschi designed for Esther Foster in Salem. Was it a building or just an interior remodel?  It seems to have existed between about 1950 and 1960 at 260 North High Street - but that's on the east side of the street with the Courthouse?! [Ugh. One block off. It's the block with Courthouse Square and the old Senator Hotel.] There is an odd-numbered building next to the Arthur Moore building you can just barely see it in these old photos, one of Bobby Kennedy in Salem, the other a terrific high-res scan of the old City Hall. Does anyone know about this one?

Other Bits

And while researching this, I found this great note on car-free downtowns! "Architect Predicts Day of Auto-Free Downtown Only 10-15 Years Away."

November 16th, 1967
While it participated in atomic-era optimism about progress, today it reads a little more dystopian.
"It" is the moment of truth when the urbanization of the human animal and the internal combustion engine complete their collision course.

"It just makes no more sense," he said, "for a single person to drive a 3,000 pound piece of machinery into a city."

Not only is the cost of providing highways and services, to say nothing of parking facilities, becoming prohibitive, but land itself is becoming scarce....

Belluschi expressed deep satisfaction at the local urban renewal progress on the west side, in the nearly completed South Auditorium project [in Portland], and in the extension to the north which is now in the clearing phase....

A person will never have to leave home for anything.
It's not a vision of mobility provided by solutions better than the auto.  It's a vision of immobility and being passively served. Even if the vision doesn't seem right, the underlying analysis on the problems cars pose surely is. 


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated to correct probable location of Esther Foster shop. Here's a personal wedding photo from 1952 that shows a bridal party on what looks to be the west side of the street. Presumably they are walking in front of the Masonic building with the brand-new Courthouse in the background? Still a 260 address would be on the east side - so if they were going to First Methodist (the Methodist Episcopal church?) why would they be on the west side. So many questions!

Anonymous said...

Here's an MSN piece on former hospital buildings converted to residences!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

That art-deco-y telephone building looks indeed like it can be associated with Belluschi after all!

See notes here.

Julie Yamaka said...

I think Belluschi designed the taller phone company building next to the Hallie Ford Museum. My dad, Jack Beals, designed the Hallie Ford Museum building as a second building for the phone company, when he worked for James Payne's office in the early 1960s. That building went up in 1964 or earlier.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

You are right! It's discussed in a later post here. He worked on it while in AE Doyle's office, and so the attribution is a little ambiguous.

Thanks also for the information on Hallie Ford!