SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Salem in 1874

World Events
  • Financial panic erupts in Europe.
  • Germans evacuate French land gained in 1871 Franco-Prussian War.
  • A. P. Still founds osteopathy in Kansas.
In Salem
On the southeast corner of Commercial and Court streets, Werner and Eugene Breyman, immigrant brothers from Germany, paint white their new brick commercial establishment. The light color gives it the distinction of being the "White Corner." Their numerous retail and wholesale businesses became the largest in Oregon outside Portland. Retiring from merchandising in 1880, they turned to real estate development and loan business. Their Bush-Breyman Block, across the street, was built in 1889. The homes of the Breyman brothers were one block apart, facing Court and State Streets at Cottage Street, and were centers of social life in Salem.
Werner Breyman (1829-1916) married Isabella Watt (1833-1909) in 1853. Their only son, Carl, died at the age of ten in 1878. Their three daughters were Mrs. William (Ada) Eldridge, Mrs.William (Elva) Brown and Mrs. R. F. (Anna) Prael. Eugene Breyman (1834-1903) married Margaret E. Skaife (1839-1918) in 1864. They also had three daughters: Mrs. F.F. (Lena) Snedecor, Mrs. Reuben (Minnie) Boise, and Mrs. Charles (Jessie) McNary.
Descendants continued their involvement in Salem’s business community for over a century and a half. The Breyman brothers had an older sister, Louisa, who was married to one of the most popular gentlemen in the city, E. M. Waite. In 1897, he died suddenly of a heart attack while participating in a parade of local baseball teams. The newspaper extolled his many civic achievements and his personal qualities. His childless widow had the Waite Fountain built in Willson Park, dedicated to his memory. The three Breyman sisters-in-law are featured in an article found in the Salem Lifelines blog.

When you visit
A post card of the early 1900s shows the Commercial and Court Street intersection, looking east with the dignified "White Corner" just as you see it above. At one of our busiest downtown corners, you pass this building today without recognizing its age and past Victorian charm. The lifting of the Depression by the prosperity of the World War II caused Americans to want everything to be "modern". This commercial building was among many in Salem to be renovated in the late 1940s, removing all Victorian decorations
.

Other Events
  • John G. Wright is elected mayor and serves two years. Mr. Wright of Illinois was an 1853 immigrant to Oregon with his wife Caroline. Their two children, Ella and George were born in this state. He was a merchant, part owner of a hotel, school director and member of the City Council before election as mayor. He died in a local hospital in 1923 at the age of 86.
  • William Griswold installed a water wheel creating a new water system that served several blocks east of High Street. From "Bits for Breakfast" by R. J. Hendricks, "Griswold also put in a water system for South Salem. He got the water from a well which he dug just south of the millpond. The tower was erected at the west end of the "agricultural works". The water was nothing but seepage from the mill pond. There was some sort of a strainer put in but it was of little value. That was over 50 years ago. Many who drank the water are still alive, so it could not have been very deadly. The system was afterward taken over by the city."
  • This was not Mr. Griswold's only downtown enterprise. Salem’s first regular theater was located in the Griswold Block at the southwest corner of State and Commercial Streets. This brick structure (perhaps the first of consequence in Salem) was built by William Griswold in the mid-1850s. Griswold’s Theater was located on the second and third floors. The celebrated Julia Dean Hayes appeared here in Shakespearian roles as early as 1864. On May 20, 1868, the Irwin's presented "Uncle Tom’s Cabin", " The Drunkard," and "Angel at Midnight." In the same year, Salem’s dramatic society offered "Kill or Love" and "The Toodles" at Griswold’s Theater. Admission to the dress circle was four bits (50 cents); six bits (75 cents) reserved a seat, and two bits (25 cents) allowed one to enter the orchestra pit. According to Pioneer Cemetery records, Mr. Griswold "died in the asylum for the insane (present state hospital) here in the early ‘80's, [1900] his mind having become unbalanced on account of the loss of his property."
  • To reduce public drunkenness, at least one day week, a previous city ordinance proscribed Sunday opening of any "store, shop, boll alley, billiard room, tippling house, or any place of amusement . . ." An exception to this law were grocery stores. When this was not effective, a voluntary Sunday closing law, enacted this year, gained the support of a goodly proportion of Salem's businessmen, although only a handful of the town's tavern keepers.
  • Chloe Clark Willson died this year in Portland. Associated with her husband William in the founding of the city, she was also a gifted teacher in the formative years of Willamette University. Profiles are found on Salemhistory and in Salem Lifelines.

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