|Otto J. Wilson garage, May 1952. Image courtesy of John Wilson|
|June 17th, 1919|
|June 17th, 1919|
The Marion Car Rental and Park, built in 1950, is a contributing property in the Salem commercial district because of its association with the tremendous impact of the automobile on downtown commercial districts across the county, including Salem's. From the 1920s onward and especially following World War II, the nearly universal ownership of automobiles gave rise to the growing popularity of shopping centers away from central business districts that offered ample car parking. Efforts to accommodate cars in the downtown encouraged the removal of numerous older buildings and, in their place, the construction of car parking, maintenance, and rental facilities.At the time the Historic District's nomination was written and the District created, the Marion Car Park's ties to Pietro Belluschi had been lost. The significance of the structure was more generic than specific to Salem or to any historical figures. More than anything, it was the tie to David Duniway's inability to preserve the Holman Building from demolition and the concomitant creation of the Marion County Historical Society in 1950, that made the Car Park significant.
It's all borrowed glory, really. (Not to mention great loss from autoism's appetite: "efforts to accommodate cars...encouraged the remove of numerous older buildings...")
By contrast, the Otto J. Wilson garage has much stronger and more specific ties to Salem's history. You will recall his association with the Salem Cyclery from about 1896 to 1900. Then he went out on his own. And in 1903 he had Salem's first automobile and was elected to City Council, still primarily identified as a bike dealer. A few years later he shifted from bikes to cars and built the garage, where Santiam Bicycle is today. Later he served at the Legislature.
|A sole propretor on April 2nd, 1902|
|In 1919 already looking back with an "olden times" narrative.|
Note also the "graduation" scheme of progress from bikes to cars.
January 1st, 1919
|An ad from January 1, 1919|
As the utility wrap project develops, there's also opportunity to highlight more about Wilson, who just gets passing mention on this State Street wrap in SESNA. He should have one nearer his garage!
|Wilson deserves more ink!|