Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Before it was Downtown Storage it was Larmer Storage - and a Hops Warehouse

You probably saw the article about the tour of proposed Police Station sites. SCV will have lots of commentary, so be sure to check that out.

Probably the most interesting site of the bunch is the old Larmer Transfer and Storage site.

The south building in 2010 - ghost signs! See the big L

Two warehouses on Liberty/Broadway
Aerial of the Larmer Storage block

The north building, from the tour January 5th - SJ photo
The block is one of the most mysterious and fascinating areas in downtown Salem. It has these two warehouses from the 1930s, and then in the depression behind them on "Larmer Avenue" are these houses, a strange little residential bit on what is effectively an alley. Someone has maintained a hedge and lawn in between the warehouses, even. And tucked in further at the end of the alley is another warehouse, rather hidden from view.

What's up with this hedge? (2011)
Larmer Transfer and Storage had at least some role in an earlier stage of hops-growing in the region. It might not be coincidental that they were built right at the end of Prohibition,  in fact.

Hop bales at Larmer's, 1945 - Salem Library Historic Photos

1950 Sanborn map shows rail siding still
The traces of the rail siding are still visible, I believe, in the contours of an asphalt patch.

I'm sure there's an older history of the site as well, as it is right across from the location of the first mill and from Boon's. It can't have been just empty. But casual research hasn't turned up much on that, unfortunately.

Just up Broadway, the site is nearly kitty-corner to Christo's and relates to the redevelopment of Salem Cinema, the former YWCA, and Broadway Commons. According to the article, Mayor
Peterson said she was not a fan of building a big government building on Broadway, because it would not blend with the mixed-use vision and could involve uprooting existing residents and businesses.
Between the two northern sites, the O'Brien car lot parcel seems greatly superior because there is no nascent mixed-use pattern immediately adjacent to it. It's more surrounded by voids, and a hypothetical redevelopment of it would seem farther off.

Maybe more to the point, the O'Brien parcel is dull and lifeless right now, and the Larmer site shimmers with mystery still. I hope it's not leveled mindlessly for a Police Station.

Late add!

I forgot about this great old photo taken from the mill on Mill Creek looking east.

The Larmer site and Boon's, 1880s
(notes added; the original is a large image with lots of detail!)
Salem Library Historic Photos

1 comment:

Jim Scheppke said...

The Larmer Warehouse was the home of the Oregon State Archives beginning sometime in the 1960s, I believe until the new Archives building opened in 1991. There is information about this here: