Saturday, July 9, 2022

Where's Joseph? Wallace Marine Park and a Missing Name

Popular names in ordinary, colloquial usage often operate somewhat independent of official names. We talk about Bush Park, not always Bush's Pasture Park. The Peter Courtney Bridge hasn't seem to stick, and the Minto Bridge or Taco Bridge seems more usual. You will think of other examples. This is a very regular thing.

There is in Wallace Marine Park a marble plinth that suggests another instance of forgetting or simplification in popular revision.

Dedication to Joseph H. Albert
and Paul B. Wallace

At the south end of the north parking lot, in between the Union and Marion Street Bridges the stone reads:

This park is dedicated to the City of Salem by
Joseph H. Albert
Paul B. Wallace
With the hope that succeeding generations may enjoy the facilities for recreation and relaxation, and may grow in appreciation of the beauties of our Willamette River.

Between the Union and Marion St Bridges

Here's a sketch of some of the history of Wallace Marine Park. It suggests a much more varied origin and set of intended meanings!

Jun 18th, 1952

In a 1952 story about the initial gift of the property, Paul Wallace is described as disappointed, even petulant. Of course a disputed river crossing would be involved!

The will...said the acreage was being given to the city despite failure of West Salem in accept Wallace's offer of 13 lots along Edgewater Street....Assailing the location of the new bridge at Marion Street (which Wallace thought should have been built at Division Street two blocks north) as having "ruined one of Salem's most beautiful parks (Marion Park)," Wallace said in his will that the 14 acres he still retained (after the other lots gave way to the new bridge approach) would be "a sorry substitute for vanished dreams."

In an aside to the will, Wallace wrote that "the failure of the State of Oregon to adopt the plan of locating the Capitol on the Willamette Campus was to me a bitter disappointment only equalled by the action of the Long Range Planning Commission in repudiating their adoption of Division street for the location of the new bridge..."

He added that the property he willed the city was to be considered the joint gift of (the late) Joseph H. Albert and Paul Wallace. Albert he described as "one of Salem's most generous and public-spirited citizens." During Albert's lifetime, he and Wallace owned the property jointly.

May 31st, 1956

Already by 1956 Albert's name was omitted, but the park name wasn't very stable. A photo caption says "Wallace Park," but the story says "Wallace Marine Park." Memorial Day services seemed to allude to a memorial function for the park.

May 3rd, 1957

A year later in 1957, the afternoon paper complained:

Salem officialdom, the public at large, and the newspapers too, have fallen into the erroneous habit of speaking of the city's westside park as Wallace Marine Park, or of otherwise identifying it only with the name of the late Paul B. Wallace....The official name is Joseph H. Albert-Paul B. Wallace Willamette Memorial Park.

But this didn't seem to stick, and the name was still not stable.

December 31st, 1957

In a piece a half a year later about a further addition to the park, there is a diagram the "Wallace Memorial Park" bolted into the Wallace-Albert Marine Park. 

Polk County planners heard about the Paul B. Wallace Memorial Park.

March 4th, 1958

And an ad for the Willamette River Days identifies it as the "Albert-Wallace Marine Park."

June 22nd, 1958

Today the park name is clear, not just in popular usage but in official usage. The 2013 Parks Master Plan, current City website, park signs all say "Wallace Marine Park."

Do we need to restore the name of the park? Probably not. A descriptive, not prescriptive, approach seems best.

September 24th, 1888

But the old Capital National Bank was just in the news with the yoga studio remodel. The fathers of Joseph H. Albert and Paul B. Wallace founded the bank, commissioned the building we celebrate, and as with Asahel Bush and Bush Park, the history of Wallace Marine Park is related to the history of banking in Salem and to generational wealth they passed on.

Even if we don't think restoring the full name of the park is important, learning more about Joseph H. Albert might be interesting. He was the brother of Myra Albert Wiggins, and there will be more to say in second post.


Joseph said...

That's so interesting. Thanks for your research!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Glad you liked it.

Also updated with link to follow-up on Joseph Albert and Jessie Dalrymple.