|The cast iron railing on "diamond square" needs help|
(from Staff Report and application materials)
|Jason Lee, Memorial Day 2014|
|1852 General Land Office survey map, Salem area.|
Parrish home, the cemetery, the Methodist church
and Willamette U sites highlighted
|June 14th, 1906|
(More on the 15th and 16th)
|Triangles cut off by the fence in the full diamond square plot|
(Staff Report, yellow highlight on outline added)
On Tuesday September 25, 2017 the Mayor’s office received a complaint regarding removal of the subject fencing at the Lee Mission Cemetery. The City of Salem’s Historic Preservation Officer (CHPO) was notified, and went out to the site and asked the fencing contractors to stop work immediately, as the work had not received the required historic design review approval. Unfortunately, by this time, half of the original historic fencing had been removed and replaced with the new fencing, and some of this original fencing had been given away to passersby.So this constituted something of a minor crisis.
Now there is an after-the-fact process started with formal application and a Public Hearing.
The Staff analysis and Recommendation (an original Report and Revised Staff Report) is for denial and calls for a better plan:
[T]he proposed new fence has already resulted in the removal and destruction of the significant 1906 iron fencing surrounding Diamond Square, and the applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that their revised proposal would ensure the restoration and now required reconstruction of this character defining fencing. Staff recommends that the HLC find that SRC 230.060 has not been met for this proposal.This does not seem to be clear-cut. The fencing is not original, and is itself part of a process of change and historical development. Right now the resources that cemetery groups have for maintenance is spread pretty thinly. How important is it to maintain a kind of original "integrity" on the fencing, potentially at the expense of other maintenance or other restoration? Is that some sine qua non? Reasonable people will disagree, probably.
At the same time, restoration rather than replacement may not have been investigated as fully as it should have been. The Staff Report cites a City assessment of similar cast iron fencing on Pioneer Cemetery, and this seems to be an important part of the basis for arguing that a better plan is possible and at a reasonable cost:
I found the remaining Diamond Square cast iron fence to be in equal, or better condition than similar cast iron fences at the City-owned Pioneer Cemetery. As you may know, the City of Salem and the Friends of Pioneer Cemetery are currently working on plan to restore and maintain the fences at Pioneer. While we are still in the early stages of our restoration efforts, we are confident that the cast iron fences at Pioneer are in such condition that they can be, and will be restored. Given that the remaining cast iron fence at the Diamond square is in equal or better condition than the fence at Pioneer, I believe that The Diamond Square Fence can also be restored.The HLC will get more information, have an opportunity to question things, and will land on what seems to be the best solution. It's hard to have any firm opinion without knowing more. (Update - the application has been withdrawn.)
Those 1906 news stories really dig in on the hagiography of Jason Lee. Especially in light of current news, it is worth considering the stories of the women at the Mission, who had to endure a sometimes brutish patriarchy with harassment and even violence. See "Jason Lee was Fired! Ruth Rover's Alternative to Mission Hagiography" here, and "The Missionary Ladies: Women’s Roles in the Methodist Mission to Oregon" in the Winter 2014 issue of Willamette Valley Voices published by the Mill.
|Constrained right-of-way, "goat trail," old gate on D Street|