Wednesday, January 4, 2017

History Notes at Grant Neighborhood Association

1950 Water Street NE has been vacant and boarded up
The Grant Neighborhood Association meets tomorrow the 5th, and in last month's minutes there's a very interesting note about an old house.
There is a small Victorian house on north Water Street that is boarded and slated for demolition. It belonged to some of the extended family of AC Gilbert. [A neighbor] is working on trying to get it moved to Riverfront Park and the Gilbert House Museum complex.
The meeting minutes don't give an address, but it seems almost certain that it is the house at 1950 Water Street NE, currently owned by the Salvation Army.

As you can tell, it's an old house. The Assessor's Office lists a date of 1860 for it! Even if it's not quite that old, it's clearly from the 19th century. (Update - It's a City "local landmark" and that brief listing says circa 1880, which is much more plausible than 1860.)

It's in a shabby condition, and it needs some love and investment. In the image from a couple of years ago, it doesn't seem to be sagging obviously, so perhaps its bones remain sound.

Moving and restoring it seems like a very worthy project.

Capital City Laundry: Oregon State Library
Also, it looks like the old Laundry on Gaines and Market will finally get a regular use:
[A neighbor] spoke about the Aramark building being transformed into Sparrow Furniture. It will provide services for refurbishing furniture and will provide work and training for new refugees.
The Grant Neighborhood Association meeting is on Thursday the 5th at 6:15pm, in the Library of Grant Community School, 725 Market St NE.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The Salem Historic Resources Inventory lists the building's date as 1880. That seems more likely than 1860.

Virginia Green has a few more notes, including that "One early resident was A. E. Gilbert, brother of A.C. Gilbert of the prominent Salem family."

Unknown said...

When we created "Heritage Village" at the Riverfront Park in 1986 I was the City of Salem (architect) consultant for the planning of the Village and project manager for moving the two homes from the North Capitol Mall to the new "Village". The main problem we had when moving these homes was fitting them under the bridge, and the roofs had to be removed, and then re-constructed at the new location. That is very expensive, and restoring these historic homes requires a large budget because the work is very labor intensive. There may not be room between the existing homes and the bicycle ramp to fit in yet another home. However the end result may be worth it, in that the original settlement on Water Street was modest homes like this one. For the other homes we received funding from Urban Renewal and the Parks Dept coordinated my work and the funding.

Neighbor said...

While it is an old house, 1950 Water St was in decent enough shape until the Salvation Army bought it. Years of neglect and indifference has turned it into a nuisance house, a frequent target for squatters, vandals, and trespassers. Due to constant break-ins the house is boarded up, and that is only because of repeated complaints by neighbors to the Salvation Army, and the Salvation Army taking the "least possible effort" option to address it. The neglected property has become a staging area for other undesirable activity in the area like trespassing, theft, assault, littering, drug use, and prostitution.

Today, the relatively newer beige house next door that appears in this story's photo (to the left) also is owned by the Salvation Army, and is also abandoned- neglected and vandalized to the point its ground floor windows had to be boarded up, and all of the issues that plagued 1950 have spread to that lot too.

At this point the neighborhood is so tired of the Salvation Army management's indifference and neglect of the property that doing ANYTHING with it as soon as possible is preferred. Many of the lower level Salvation Army employees are sympathetic to neighbor's concerns and have tried their best to keep an eye on the place, but any appeal to management falls on uncaring deaf ears. It was a neat little house for years but now it is a huge liability, and the best thing it can do is go away ASAP. Because I can speak from decades of first hand experience that the Salvation Army's management will not start giving a shit about the neighborhood now, they never have.

Neighbor #2 said...

The Salvation Army would know what to do with that house but Jesus only saves souls, not dilapidated old homes. Allegedly.

Anonymous said...

AE GILBERTS HOUSE! ("The other brother") built this house in the 1800. It's a hidden treasure, but just north of the Gilbert museum by one tenth of a mile.
A REGISTERED HOSTORIC LANDMARK, it can not be torn down, and is in good shape.
Beautifully located on the Willamette River it's location and uniquely unusual architecture perfectly punctuates the Downtown Urban Renewal lint term plan Plan for a riverfront bike and pedestrian trails that turn here and circle back to town along front Street. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

A Registered HISTORIC Landmark, with the city of Salem. If there is a way to post addition photos of family and as well as the home in its hay day, we would be happy to do so!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful opportunity for Salem, possibly with the assistance of a Urban Renewal grant or interested citizens to Restore Oregon history, and to celebrate this unique little house. It's a lovely location with plenty of room for public use on the water, or for a cake and coffee non-profit. The house has gingerbread Victorian detail consistent with those innovative Gilberts, clever masonry, and other uncommon architectural features. We have so little history like the Gilbert house, that communicates that early enthusiasm for building a town. I would be interested in contributing time and resources to keep this Sweet little gem. Let me know who is involved?

Anonymous said...

Today the SJ has a long piece on the house, and the most interesting part might be debunking the Gilbert connection and substantially revising the date of the house:

"Mistaken connection to A.C. Gilbert

Many thought the house at 1950 Water St. would be a perfect fit for the museum because of the widely reported Gilbert connection. A group advocating for its preservation a few years back referred to it as the Gilbert House, assuming it was once owned or lived in by the family of A.C. Gilbert, namesake of the museum.

Surveys in 1987 by the city and in 1993 by Marion County both perpetuated the local lore. One identifies A.E. Gilbert as a previous owner, the other as an early resident. Neither indicates how he's related to A.C. Gilbert.

Nelson has done exhaustive research on the property and found no such connection. A retired regional counsel for a group of title companies, he knows his way around deed records. What he couldn't pinpoint was when the house was built.

The architectural style dates the house to around 1885, according to the city's survey.

But as Nelson pointed out, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1888 shows no structure on that property and the plat of the Riverside addition, where the house is located, wasn't filed until March 20, 1889.

The first reference to the house he could find was in the 1907 city directory, but he believes the Wenger family resided there a couple years before. Jacob and Alice Wenger had two children, Karl and Trista. Jacob co-owned a music store in town.

Conversations with Wenger descendants and an inscription on the basement floor with the date Oct. 13, 1906, support Nelson's belief."