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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Salem in 1926

World Events
  • Dictators rise to power in Europe and Russia.
  • Ernest Hemingway writes "The Sun Also Rises"; Agatha Christie disappears from her home in Surrey, but is found six days later at a Harrogate Hotel.
  • Gertrude Ederly becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel from France to England.
In Salem
Thomas A. Livesley, an internationally prominent hop grower, created two of Salem's most admired structures. One is our only skyscraper, the 11 story First National Bank Building built this year on State Street downtown, The Capitol Tower, often called the “Livesley Building", the other is the former Livesley family home, "Mahonia Hall", built in 1924 on Lincoln Street in Fairmount Hills, It was once considered "out in the country" as a 1958 photograph shows. In the next year, Thomas Livesley will become Salem's "Good Roads Mayor". His priorities included bridge, street, alley and sidewalk improvements. Other major projects included expanding fire protection, new playgrounds, the Salem Airport, streetlights and traffic signals. His repeated efforts to establish a city council-manager form of government would be successful in 1947, the year of his death.

When you visit
The Livesley Building has had several owners, the present being Roger Yost. Its ground floor interior reflects the dignified banking atmosphere of the years when it was built and professional offices are still maintained in the floors above. The elaborate exterior decorations of the upper levels, representing stylized historical and mythical characters, are only partly visible from the street below. The Livesley home, Mahonia Hall, is now the governor's mansion, secured by a fence and guarded by state police. It is open to the public by invitation for special events and there are occasional tours guided by members of AAUW. Both buildings continue to reflect the life of Thomas Livesley and are his gifts to Salem's architectural heritage. They are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other Events
  • Among the other new downtown constructions in this prosperous year: the New Salem Hotel/Hughes Building at the corner of Ferry and High Streets; the Elsinore Theatre with its beautiful lobby recalling a Shakespeare Castle courtyard at night; and the Bligh Building, now called the Pacific Building, which replaced the 1864 Cook's Hotel.

  •  Located on the southeast corner of High and State Streets, the Capitol Theater of the Bligh Building was constructed adjoining, to the east. Its distinctive dome feature over the entrance was even more attractive when it was lit at night. This building was demolished in 2000 and now is marked only by the outline of the rear wall as you pass the site, now a parking lot, on State Street.
  • Among the residences built near downtown this year: the David Eyre home on Summer Street, moved in 1939 for the construction of the North Capitol Mall, and now in the Gaiety Hill/Bush's Pasture Park Historic District at High and Mission Streets; the Baumgartner home on Winter Street, now on Summer Street after two previous moves; the Collins-Busick House on Court Street; and the Steeves House, a block to the east. The Court Street residences are in the Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District of the NEN neighborhood.
  • The Shipley House on Washington Street, built this year, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens of the Shipley house were designed by well-known nurseryman Ernie Lufer. When the Depression forced the closing of the Shipley business, this English Cottage style residence was sold to Cora Kay, the widow of Thomas Kay, the mill owner. (Her home had been demolished for the construction of the Oregon State Library.) She lived here until her death in 1944. The landscaped grounds with the original underground watering system and rock gardens were restored in 1984 by Mrs. Kay’s grandson, W. K. Huntington for the present owners.
  • Across the Willamette River in West Salem, the First Methodist Church, after many years in construction, is finally completed. 
  • On Ferry Street at 19th, a beloved Congregational minister and civic leader is honored with the construction of Knight Memorial Church. Plutarch Knight's obituary of 1914 (excerpted here) lists an amazing number of accomplishments. He came to Salem in December of 1857 and attended Willamette University from 1857 to 1860.  He was reporter and editor of the Statesman from 1862 to 1864, was also state librarian and city recorder, read law, and was admitted to the bar in this same period of years. He was ordained a Congregational minister at Oregon City in 1866, and was pastor of the Congregational church of Salem from 1867 to 1883, sixteen years. He was superintendent of schools for Marion County from 1870 to 1872 and in charge of the Oregon school for deaf mutes from 1871 to 1892. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy was conferred upon him by Willamette university in 1890. He platted Knight's addition to Salem in 1888; bought Capital Park addition in 1889; Central addition and part of Capital Home addition in 1890; Simpson addition in 1891. Mr. Knight was the moving spirit and the largest original stockholder in the Capital City electric railway, started in 1890. As a minister, a writer, a public speaker, a public spirited and useful citizen, as a businessman, Mr. Knight has kept the esteem, respect and confidence of the people among whom he has led such a busy, active and useful life.

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