|The Steam Laundry on Liberty, just south of State Street.|
Note First Methodist Steeple in back, bike parking in front;
the backside of Guardian building is on the left.
The boardwalk sits above the slope and depression on the alley.
Salem Library Historic Photos
In the context of the HLC, modern standards must stress compatibility rather than authenticity in historic districts, so it's of limited usefulness to see "what used to be" as if that might guide us on appropriate development and standards. The move from mud to pavement, and from boardwalk to concrete sidewalk, is progress obviously, and we'd almost never want historical accuracy on these.
In fact, "mud" was often code for a rank slurry of poop and sticky rain-moistened dirt! When the State Highway Commission's motto was "Get Oregon out of the Mud," read accordingly - and savor the progress. (I think we have too much pavement, of course, but I do not mind at all that modern pavement is a standard road surface!)
In other areas things are less clear. Preservationists go to great lengths to check the scourge of vinyl and aluminum windows, and yet have much less to say about car traffic and parking management. For both 19th century and even streetcar-era development, cars are the intrusion and disruption! Go figure.
|Same location today! It's built up a little for parking,|
but the alley still dips into a bowl - and see the steeple in back.
I'm glad for concrete and asphalt over mud and boards,
but this is still pretty drab.
In the first pair, most things have changed and the only thing really visible in both pictures is the steeple. I love that there was covered bike parking, however.
|Steam Laundry ad, March 28, 1903|
Even now with the dirty laundry / clean laundry transformation, the jokes practically write themselves. (Or perhaps you have other ideas on how to interpret the ad?)
Much more of old Salem remains in the next pair of photos!
|Horse Fair at State and Commercial, 1880s. Mud, think mud!|
Many of these buildings are still around today!
Salem Library Historic Photos
|The same corner today|
Without cars, people were free to stand in the road. And of course Salem was smaller and denser, and so more people congregated downtown. That's a real loss in vitality.
The horse fair image is quite detailed and you can zoom in on it at the library's site. What strikes you most about the then-and-now pairs?
Back to the street standards, it turns out, unsurprisingly, that the City has an administrative rule-making process - and it's interesting that in following the TSP for some time, this has never come up before. So this is something new here!
Unfortunately there's no staff report or other materials, so it's not possible to comment directly on the substantive matters. The process requires materials be posted 15 days in advance on the City website, and there is nothing posted, so at the moment this looks like preliminary conversation and prep work.
The Commission meets at 5:30pm in Council Chambers on Thursday, the 21st.
A long footnote, Nov 21st
So what about the first Methodist Episcopal Church? Was it moved and did the laundry use the same building?
It is not possible just yet to say with certainty, but the case looks pretty good! Helpful information from Elisabeth Potter and Jim Scheppke, as well as a trip to the library this evening, turned up much.
Compare this old drawing, reproduced in The First United Methodist Church of Salem, Oregon by Orin and Mary Oliphant. Looks like the suspect, now, doesn't it!
|The first church - looks a lot like the laundry!|
Reproduced in Oliphant (1974)
The Oliphants write that this first church was on the site of the brick church we know today and, in preparation for the larger brick church, was moved in 1870 across the street to the southwest corner of Church and State.
|In the 1876 birdseye map, the first church looks to be across the street,|
on the southwest corner. Some unknown building is at the site of the laundry
in September, 1874, [Rev. John H.] Roork sold to ten men, each of whom paid $300, a tenth interest in the old church and two lots. He thus acquired a total of $3,000 from E.N. Cooke, F.R. Smith, J.L. Parrish, P.M. Starr, W.Q.Adams, Thomas Cunningham, Jacob Ogle, Joseph Hallman, Thomas Davidson, and D. Payton.And it seems likely that one or more members of this consortium then again moved the church to the Liberty Street site. But this either wasn't interesting or knowable to the Oliphants, and we don't know when or why a second move happened. By 1884 the old church building is possibly there on Liberty.
|In the City's Sanborn map of 1884|
the footprint of this gymnasium looks a lot like the 2:3 ratio
of the 40x60 first church.
This is at the site of the laundry, and the building might have
been moved by 1884.
Note also the "Chinese" label.
(So that means the church was on that corner for 18 years at most - which seems more than the "where it remained for many years, first serving as an interim church, then filling various secular uses" in the National Register listing. I think that info about this second move has been lost down the rabbit hole!)
|The 1884 Sanborn doesn't go far enough east,|
but in this 1888 Sanborn,
the first church is no longer on the sw corner,
opposite the brick church of 1878.
Chasing down the details on the second move is outside our scope here - but if readers know more, please share!
In the meantime, thanks to Jim and Elisabeth!
The First United Methodist Church of Salem, Oregon: A Story of the Growth and Transition of the Oldest Methodist Church West of the Rocky Mountains by J. Orin Oliphant and Mary C. Oliphant and published in 1974. The library has two or three copies.