Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Arthur Moore Building Built by Bikes

It would be quite an exaggerated stretch to say that bikes built large portions of downtown. But bike business and businessmen did contribute to much more of downtown than we might suppose. That part of our history has been erased or neglected.

Across the street from Courthouse Square and the transit mall is another building related to transportation and funded by bikes. While part of its history is sad, it also represents a mixed-use development that points the way to 21st century redevelopment.

Son of Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank A. Moore, Arthur H. Moore finished the building in 1924 and moved his bike shop into it. He planned it with apartments above.

Arthur H. Moore Building on High Street

Frank A. Moore
Oregon Supreme Court
The Moore building has roots in a tragic loss, however, and it is part of the history of Salem bicycling.

The Moore family moved to Salem in 1892 when father Frank A. Moore was elected a Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court.

They appear to have lived on Oak Street in the neighborhood between Winter and 12th Streets where now is the hospital complex.

In 1904 son Frank J. Moore opened a bike shop.  Relative to the advertising of Watt Shipp and Otto J. Wilson, Moore initially had a small and modest business.

Early Frank J. Moore Ad, July 1904
By 1910, he was advertising more widely and seemed prosperous.

Later Frank J. Moore Ad, April 1910
His advertising hit on perennial themes:  There is no better way to experience summer than by bike!

Sadly, a couple of years later while on his motorcycle Moore was in a a crash with an automobile. While his injuries didn't seem mortal at first, an infection caused gangrene and small wounds became fatal. He died on September 26th, 1912, and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Frank J. Moore Obituary, Sept 27th 1912
As the estate was being settled in October, his brother, Arthur, was asked to handle the business temporarily. Arthur had been employed as a carpenter at the State Hospital and didn't seem to have been much involved, if at all, in the bike business.

The store at the time was located at 447 Court Street. That building has since been demolished and replaced by a mid-century brick structure on the alley.

Initially it seems Arthur did not intend to take over the bike business, but in the end he did.

Frank J.'s widow, Nellie, died herself not six months after Frank passed away.  It was likely that Arthur had to arrange to sell the business or take it over formally.

Arthur H. Moore Ad, 1915
Outrunning the Law!
By 1915 Arthur was running ads for the bike business - and even joking about his pedigree of law and order!

Arthur went on to be a significant figure in Salem politics and life, serving on City Council and other boards and commissions.

Arthur Moore Obituary, May 3, 1949
At the end of his life in 1949, Arthur Moore's obituary says nothing about brother Frank.  It suggests he "opened" a bike shop in 1912, but it was brother Frank who opened the shop, not Arthur. It would not be difficult to suppose that the silence might have its roots in enduring grief.

Arthur Moore is buried in City View Cemetery, not too terribly far from his brother in the Pioneer Cemetery.

The building remains and still has apartments upstairs and Ranch Records and a payday loan business at street level. 

As with the just-announced renovation of the McGilchrist block, the two-story storefronts in downtown are a relatively easy and incremental way to improve vitality and activity in downtown Salem.  While mid-rise new construction might get more of the headlines and attention, the existing stock of two-story commercial buildings is an incredible resource, and deserves more investment.

So next time you pass by the Moore block, tip your cap to brothers Frank J. and Arthur H., and the small but important ways bikes helped build Salem. 


Jim Scheppke said...

Great post SBOB. I love your history posts. Keep 'em coming.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Glad you like 'em!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A reader from distant lands writes by email and says Frank J. Moore opened the shop earlier than 1904. They are right. March 1902 seems best, but I will need to research a little more and will update.