Friday, March 28, 2014

As Courthouse Square Reopens, Remember the Derby Building and Other Old Salem

Courthouse Square reopens next month and a rededication ceremony - a catharsis? emesis? so much more! - will be held on Wednesday the 2nd. The buses return on the 7th.

Here's some images of what was there mid-century.  Mainly it was the Derby building, which housed the Senator Hotel. 

Old City Hall and Derby Building in Distance
(Looking SE-ish from north side of Chemeketa and High)
Salem Library Historic Photos

Derby Building, Corner of Court and High, circa 1960
(Looking NE from Grand Vines, basically)
Salem Library Historic Photos

Collins-Downing House on Church Street
across from Statesman building
(Looking East.  City Hall and the back of the Derby visible)
Salem Library Historic Photos
Fortunately the Collins-Downing House was moved a couple of blocks and is still with us!

It's an interesting question whether the cost of gutting and renovating the Derby building would actually by now have been cheaper than the total cost of demolition, the Courthouse Square construction, and the subsequent rehab/mitigation/do-over.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

The fiasco over the Courthouse Square was due totally the secrecy of the County Commissioners about the project. Things started to stink long before the construction began and when the public (and the SJ) started to ask reasonable questions, the Commissioners (lead by Randy Franke) went underground. No doubt deals were made with political cronies and the contracts were given with little or no oversights.

So, this is what secrecy in government gets the taxpayers.

Open government results in better government. Citizens need to rail against any form of secret decision making. Sadly it is rampant in Marion County government and increasingly so with the City of Salem.

We were headed down the same path with the fixing of Courthouse Square until Geoffrey James and Gene Pfeifer, two activist citizens, stepped up and insisted that the process be opened up and that alternatives be explored. Thus, saving taxpayers millions of dollars and hopefully opening the public's eyes to the need for more citizen involvement.

Jim Scheppke said...

Our old City Hall, built in 1893, was a fabulous building. It was torn down in 1972 for no good reason. Today the site is a parking lot. Our downtown would be so much more of a destination if the old City Hall had been repurposed.

Laurie Dougherty said...

Really is too bad they demolished the old Salem City Hall. I never saw it, but the photo and even more so other photos I found online remind me of the Cambridge, MA City Hall which Wikipedia say was built in 1888-89 in the Richardson Romanesque style. It's still the City Hall in what is fondly (or not depending on point of view) known as the People's Republic of Cambridge. "On May 17, 2004, shortly after midnight, the first legal applications in the United States for marriage licenses for same-sex couples were issued at Cambridge City Hall.",_Massachusetts_City_Hall

I don't know much about architecture but the Richardson style is distinctive, both buildings H.H. Richardson designed himself and those designed by his firm afgter his death or by other in the Richardson Romanesque. There are many buildings actually designed by Richardson from the 1860s to mid-1880s still in use in Massachusetts and other parts of the Northeast including the Quincy, MA main public library where I spent many hours looking stuff up for Mr. O'Brien's American History class.

The narrow building on Commercial next to Gallagher Fitnes is in the Richardson Romanesque style.

(I never know how to get links to work here.)