They have another interesting item. The Mill's "History in the News" as well as a major project on the letters of Asahel Bush are also worth noting. (All of them grapple in one way or another with the question of how best to retrieve and make lively the past.)
Starkey McCully Block
|Proposal for a new wine bar and apartments|
|Starkey-McCully Block and First National Bank|
(The tower and Gerlinger Block on the corner are long gone,
but you can still read Lamport in the sidewalk!)
Image circa 1887, Salem Library Historic Photos
The ownership of that northern third was separate and was not in the sale to the SKEF, and now either through a different sale or merely that the current owners wish to upgrade, the HLC is looking at a
Major Historic Design Review of a proposal to add new signage, replace the front storefront, and construct a new addition on the rear of the Starkey/McCully Building (1867), a historic contributing resource within the Salem Downtown National Register Historic District...On the whole, Staff Recommendation is for approval.
But it's a little bit of a mullet! The "business in front," including the new signage, is a set of quiet changes that mostly enhance and do not disturb the historical qualities of the architecture and function of the building. They propose to paint directly on the building the words "Bar Vino" and in the proposal appeal directly to old-time signage also painted on buildings - much like the ghost signs we can still see around town. The wine bar itself looks like a very nice use for an old historic building, a space that will have lots of character. (Though it will be interesting to see if it can escape the fate of Clockworks, which closed next door a few years ago. Commercial Street here has seemed much quieter than Liberty, and just one block has seemed to make a lot of difference. Hopefully things have changed!)
|Concept for wine bar, plan view|
The applicant proposes to...remove the historic non-contributing additions on the rear portion of the property, and add a three-story addition with penthouse level abutting the alley. The new addition would be connected to the existing 1867 building by a courtyard at the second floor.
|Later additions on alley to be demolished,|
replaced by three new apartments in a modern style
The penthouse won't be visible from Commercial Street and in general the change in architectural style will be visible mainly from the alley, not from the main streets in the Historic District.
All in all this seems like a good compromise between preservation and modernization, and crucially adds to the stock of downtown housing (even if these look deluxe).
|Falk House of circa 1876 - via Discover|
|With full front porch - and a bike! Circa 1900 - via Staff Report|
A proposal to install a new retaining wall and fencing, and replace the front porch, deck, doors and windows at the Falk House (1876)From the 1994 Historic Resource Inventory:
The Falk house was reportedly built around 1876 by a member of a Smith family. The property has ties to the Fabritus Smith family and to Samuel Clarke, both early farmers in the area. In 1891 Samuel A. Clarke is noted in the Salem City Directory as residing west of Commercial Street, one and one-half miles south of the Willamette Hotel (in downtown Salem). Samuel Clarke was a noted journalist, author of "Pioneer Days of Oregon History", editor of the Oregonian for a short time, editor of the Oregon Statesman for several years, and editor and owner of a newspaper called the Willamette Farmer for many years when that journal had a larger circulation than any other agricultural paper ever published in Oregon. Clarke is believed to have named his fruit farm in the area "Candalaria".Commercial Street was the old highway, and it runs in a little depression between the rise on which the Smith-Ohmart House sits and the larger rise of the Candalaria hill. And it wouldn't be surprising for Fabritus or another member of his family to build another farmhouse just across the way.
The proposal itself looks like a solid act of restoration and the Staff Report recommends approval straight-up.
History in the News
Last year in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Elisabeth Walton Potter wrote an appreciation for fifty years of the National Historic Preservation Act.
|Elisabeth Walton Potter|
on the National Historic Preservation Act
Oregon Historical Quarterly, Fall 2016
I don't know if this was her first piece, but back in Marion County History, volume 8, 1962, she wrote about the form of the Jason Lee House.
|Elisabeth Walton Potter in 1977 teaching at the Boon House|
(University of Oregon)
As national controversy rages over whether and how to remove statues memorializing the Confederacy, communities across the country are beginning to consider the meaning and significance of public memorials, buildings, streets, schools, and teams in their own places. Oregon State University, for example, is in the process of conducting community meetings to reevaluate buildings named after a pro-slavery newspaperman, a Confederate army soldier, and a coach who resisted desegregation of the basketball team.It'll be interesting if any local examples surface. Most of Salem's history has been idealized, and there are lots of places where we don't fully grapple with the ambiguity of history. Asahel Bush and his pro-slavery, pro-Union perspective seems like a central ambiguity in our history we haven't adequately accounted for in our official and popular histories.
This History in the News panel discussion considers these debates over historical monuments and memory, and the broader questions they raise about the complex history of colonialism, racism and white supremacist imagery in American culture.
In their transition from John Calhoun College to Grace Hopper College, Yale articulated a strong heuristic about a person's "principal legacy." At the University of Oregon, they retained Deady Hall, but renamed Dunn Hall to Unthank Hall. Without directly responding to Yale's example, this also seems to express a distinction between a person's principal legacy and any secondary legacies they may have left. Maybe it's early to say there is a settled consensus, but it sure looks like an emerging consensus on how to handle these things. By this standard it is easy to conclude that Bush's principal legacy stands on other grounds. It does not seem like there are any streets or buildings or other monuments here to people whose principal legacy was devoted to slavery or to other evil.
Letters to Asahel Bush
Speaking of Judge Deady and Bush, all too quietly the the other day the Salem Art Association announced a huge new project.
|"There seems to be an impression going abroad|
that you are secretly an abolitionist."
Judge Deady to Asahel Bush, February 9th, 1857
The handwritten letters to Asahel Bush II in the 1850s and early 1860s were preserved by the Bush Family following his death in 1913. During the Works Progress Administration’s Historic Records Survey in the late 1930s, these historic letters were rediscovered and transcribed. Multiple copies of these typewritten transcriptions were gathered into sets by correspondent and archived at the University of Oregon Library, the Oregon State Library and later at the Bush House Museum. Continuing efforts to reproduce and interpret these historic letters were undertaken by a University of Oregon photo-reproduction project in 1942 and the Oregon Historical Society’s microfilming project in 1964.The Art Association, which operates Bush House, got some new grants to publish it all to the web.
Browsing it is not yet the easiest thing, as it does not seem they have run things through OCR, so there's not yet a database of the text itself. Not one public, anyway. The interface is a little primitive, and you have to go by date or by author. The summaries of the letters may also err in a irenic and harmonizing tone, and it seems very possible that there is more controversy or even icky behind some of them.
Unfortunately the letters Bush himself wrote are not included, so the correspondence is all a very one-sided. It's a little like reading twitter between a public account and a locked account. Hopefully they will be able at some point to secure permissions for the other side of correspondence when it still exists.
Even one-sided, the trove is still amazing.
If you are interested in early Oregon or early Salem history, this will be invaluable.