|Baggage Depot, looking north, 2000|
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
It's an interesting contrast, and worth some thought. I happen to think the depot, one of the last remaining ones from the 19th century in Oregon, is more significant than Walker does. Rail history is pretty central to the development of the American West. The depot looks super shabby today, but as a link to our 19th century rail history it helped shape Salem far more than the Blind School shaped Salem. Among our State institutions, the Blind School was small, and its significance is more for former students than for Salem as municipal entity and the historical development of Salem.
Still, Walker's right that lots of effort has gone into preserving the depot.
But the thing is, I'm not sure much, if any, has been City effort. It's hard to see the City as much more than a bystander.
Baggage Depot Enjoys Large ODOT Subsidy and Attention
First off, the depot received a private, angel donation of about $100,000 as a seed towards its preservation. Here, though, we don't know what role, if any, the City might have played behind the scenes. But it's clear that the initial funding source was private, not public, money.
The bulk of it, though, is being funded by an ODOT Transportation Enhancement grant of a bit over half a million. Greyhound's contributing a little, and there are a few other odds-n-ends, but it's mostly State funding. There is no City money involved.
Unlike the Hospital, ODOT did make much more than a cursory four- or six-week effort on a pro forma RFP to find a new user for the baggage depot. Historic preservation takes time, and the Hospital did not care to take the time to do it right. ODOT did care.
(You can see the expanded time-frame in the notes here.)
If there are heroes here, they're Steve Kenney, the private donor, and ODOT.
Based on publicly available evidence, it's a stretch to say the City is "gung-ho" on the depot in a way they are not on Howard Hall. There's no 6-0 Landmarks Commission vote against demolition of the depot, for example. In that regard, the City showed more formal concern for Howard Hall, even though other agents of the City later overruled the decision. On the depot, the HLC has been more passive (not in a bad way!), rubber-stamping the plans, not intervening for preservation.
The Bigger Picture?
What if we zoom out a bit, what are our recent wins and losses?
- Carnegie Library
- Kirkbride Building and Crematorium
- Grey Building and Amadeus remodel
- McGilchrist and Roth block
- Adolph Block
- Baggage Depot
- Boise Cascade Redevelopment
- Theilson Building rehab - 440 State
- Salem Arts Building
- Belluschi Bank
- Belluschi Clinic
- Howard Hall (and the other buildings)
- Fairview Dormitories
- Belluschi Breitenbush Hall (and other buildings)
- The cluster of three or four houses at Liberty and Mission
- Eagles Lodge - Market and Broadway
- Marion Car Park
- Dome Building
- Waldo House (pre-1859, outside of city)
- Phillips House (pre-1859, outside of city)
Our historic preservation codes are pretty much tilted in favor of owners and "property rights," and the additive conservation values in preservation have somehow got inverted as "takings." That's a big topic, far beyond what we can touch on here. But the larger set of examples are evidence, I think, that the City is not itself a strong, or perhaps even a meaningful, force for preservation.
That conclusion is tentative, however, and if you know more or disagree, it is an interesting and meaningful topic!
Virginia Green Award
As a footnote, in July, Kenney, who had been anonymous, came forward and at the Historic Landmarks Commission was given the Virginia Green Award for historic preservation by the City.
|The Mayor and Steve Kenney |
holding the Virginia Green Award