Saturday, September 7, 2013

Myra Albert Wiggins Shoots Home and Flood in 1890

Rain, rain, go away!

Not ready for fall.  (And ready for a pleasant diversion from civic matters.  Maybe you are too.)

A note during Thursday's deluge about a show of Myra Albert Wiggins' photos in Portland brought to mind one of her photographs (as Myra Albert) of flooding here in Salem.

The Flood of 1890, From the Blind School,
looking out east over Pringle Creek to the Albert House.
Today we'd just be seeing lots of the Hospital
photo by Myra Albert Wiggins
This one, reproduced in Witch of Kodakery, The Photography of Myra Albert Wiggins 1869-1956, has been puzzling. It's identified as her childhood home - and the only way it works, I think, is as photographed from across a flooded Pringle Creek. The photograph must be taken from the rise at the Blind School and looking east towards where I believe was the Albert house (on the greater hospital campus now), though I don't see a current topographic feature that corresponds to the little bluff on top of which the house sits.

This four-square (on right) on Winter Street, just north of the creek
is the Albert House in the flood photo
Salem Library Historic Photos
It is possible that the bluff was smoothed out for the Winter Street extension shown just above - the east side of Winter street at the hospital does have a rise, after all.  In the library's notes, the house on the right is identified as a "sorority" house, but it looks like the four-square in the flood photo at top.

The 1895 and 1926 Sanborn maps show a four-square turned into a sorority in this location (and the library's notes depend on the '26 Sanborn, so it is not an independent source).

The block bounded by Winter, Oak, Summer, and Leslie
1895 and 1926 Sanborn Fire Maps
The four-square above the creek - likely Albert House
So it seems likely this is the Albert House.  And in fact her father's obituary lists their address as 670 south Winter Street.  The house was probably sold to Willamette as the estate was settled.  (Do any readers know?)

At any rate, the location of the house in the photo seems secure now.  Case closed!

Approximate view of 1890 photo and house superimposed on 1964 flood
 Today the new Emergency Room building of the hospital sits at this site.

Wiggins' local photography is of great interest, you may recall, since she and her husband Fred met over bikes in the late 1880s, and she continued to bike into the 1910s.

Albert-Wiggins Wedding, Nov 24th, 1894:  Oregon State Library
This is likely inside the Albert House
Early bike dealer Otto J. Wilson was a good friend and usher at their wedding. (Wilson is the moustachioed fellow sitting on the left!)  The reception following the wedding was at the Albert house, so this is almost certainly an interior shot of it.

People watching the peak of the January 2012 flood
The rain was also a reminder that there may be no public space in Salem better suited for both rain and shine than the Union Street Railroad Bridge.

Bikes and People under Union St Railroad Bridge, August 2013
Happily, sun - at least at the moment - is supposed to return for Sunday Streets.  There was even a little late yesterday evening.

Be sure to enjoy the Bridge and River while you are out!

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

remembered there was a nice aerial of the exact part of town from the 1964 flood, so updated with that image and the approximate sightline of the 1890 image