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

Monday, March 8, 2010

Salem in 1891

World Events
  • Liliuokalani is proclaimed Queen of Hawaii
  • Java Man is discovered.
  • Edison exhibits his kinetoscope, creating an illusion of movement on film.
In Salem
Willamette students at a YMCA Conference in Massachusetts came home to Salem excited about the new game of basketball, invented by James Naismith. Frank E. Brown, a first year student at Willamette University Academy, was the leader in promoting the game after hearing about it from students who attended the conference. They reported that Naismith had taken two peach baskets and had hung them in the gym as targets for the ball. The first Salem games were played in the YMCA gym housed a handsome, three story building at the northwest corner of Chemeketa and Commercial Streets (The photograph above was taken in 1898.). Players from the YMCA and the University followed the "crudely simple" rules: including players lying in circle and scrambling for the ball at a beginning whistle. A Girls Basketball team was described in the 1905 Wallulah yearbook as "five of the pluckiest girls that ever bloomed forth in bloomers."

When you visit
The YMCA moved out of the building in the following year and the building itself (the State Insurance Building) was demolished before 1948. In 1895 Brown convinced University trustees to build a gymnasium and it was used for basketball until it burned in 1921. After his death in 1958, the University dedicated a recreation area to Frank Brown.


Other events
  • P. H. D'Arcy is elected mayor and will serve for two years.


  • Fire destroys the interior of Waller Building at Willamette University. The photograph of that date shows men and women, all dressed formally (everyone in hats), watching smoke bellow from the roof.
  • Two business establishments are constructed. The Burke Building just north of Ferry on Commercial Street, is significant as the location where the Salem Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1922. The Gray Building at the corner of State and Liberty (above), stands in one of our most important downtown locations. In the early 1900s, the Russell Catlin and James Lynn, merchants doing business together, bought the building. The present owners are descendants of Russell Catlin. (See these in the SHINE Downtown Walking Tour.)
  • Two substantial farmhouses that had recently been built beyond the city limits are now Local Landmarks in the NEN neighborhood. The Pettygrew house at 587 Statesman Street was owned by that farming family from 1910 to 1939. It has retained its integrity for over a hundred years. The Matthews house at 2010 Nebraska Street was not so fortunate. Owned by that family for about 40 years, it had a number of subsequent owners and suffered many unfortunate alterations during the years it was modified into apartments. The current owners have restored it to its former dignity.
  • The Strang House, on the southwest corner of Capitol and Leffelle Streets in the SCAN neighborhood, is somewhat of a mystery. Believed to be of this construction date, it was moved here from its original location on Front Street, in 1891 a typical Salem middle class residential neighborhood. It is likely to be the oldest house in the Gaiety Hill/Bush Pasture Park Historic Residential District. (It can be seen in the SHINE Gaiety Hill/Bush's Pasture Park Walking Tour.)
  • A "development" of three Simpson Cottages are built on Court Street on the block between 17th Street and Mill Creek. These are now part of the Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District.
  • Four miles southeast of Salem, a $50,000 institution, serving as a reformatory for boys was established as the Oregon State Training School. Inmates would be instructed in behavior and given military drill and discipline. By the 1920's Salem's city limits were closer to the Reform School and townspeople were alarmed by the city's proximity and the relative ease of escape by its youthful inmates. A 1927 fire gutted the main building and the decision was made to relocate the facility to Woodburn, now the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.
  • The North School is constructed this year. The name of this imposing building at Market (Garden Road) and North Winter Street was changed in 1908 to Grant School. It was razed in 1954 for the modern school building in that location today.
  • The original First Baptist Church at Marion and Liberty Street is built in an elaborate style that includes a tower and turret, windows of various shapes decorated with stained glass, and a center section rising to a peak in two elevations. It was demolished in 1943.
  • On August 5, a surprise undertow at North Beach (near the former Tioga, WA) took the lives of two members of a bathing party: Willie Steel and Nellie Boise. The tragic incident is reported at length in a newspaper article entitled, "A Cruel Ocean." Miss Boise was the daughter of Salem Judge Reuben Boise.
  • In December, F. S. Dearborn, a book seller on Commercial Street, offered Oregon wild flowers nicely presented and arranged in booklet form as a Christmas gift to be mailed.

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