In looking into the WCTU Ramp Memorial Hall, it was difficult to find references to the hall as inside the Nesmith Building, which had been the name, as I understood it, for the building.
|Not the Nesmith Building, in 1955|
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
It turned out there was a very good reason for the difficulty.
This building has been misidentified in much of our current history. The attribution, that this building is the Nesmith Building, is everywhere. See for example the entry for 1862 in the SHINE historical digest. In the Salem online history (via the internet archive since all the historical essays seem to have been scrubbed from salemhistory.net earlier this year) they said:
For the next twenty years [after the 1855 fire], which included the transition to Statehood in 1859, the Oregon Legislature convened in rented rooms in commercial buildings near the Salem riverfront. The primary locations were the Nesmith Building and the Holman Building located at the southwest and northwest corners, respectively, of the intersection of Commercial and Ferry streets. Neither building stands today.
There was a consensus this was the Nesmith Building, that various Legislative bodies had met there and it was a part of our Capitol history. In 2010 historians even installed an interpretive panel on the stairwell landing at the Conference Center overlooking Ferry and Commercial with photos and captions about the Nesmith and Holman buildings on the two corners. There was no real reason to question the source of that, it seemed very reliable, and there were plenty of other things to investigate in Salem history.
Well, here we are. The WCTU Ramp Memorial Hall was an interesting thing to investigate.
There is, it turns out, a recent common source that is almost certainly the origin and main source for the error in our current histories of the Capitol and of Salem.