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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Salem in 1938

World Events
  • Japanese occupy Chinese cities.
  • Hitler launches Kristallnacht, Italy enacts anti-Jewish laws.
  • Germany annexes Austria, France calls up reserves.
  • Roosevelt appeals for peace.
In Salem

While the leading nations of the world line up for wider conflict on either the side of the Allies or of the Axis, Salem residents are still struggling with Depression unemployment and homeless men are sleeping in the Hotel de Minto, rooms in the police station at City Hall. There are WPA government jobs in construction, however, as the Oregon State Capitol is completed and the "Gold Man" placed atop. The Oregon State Forestry Building is also completed this year. As the new Oregon State Library is completed, the legal battle over the state condemnation of the Patton residence is resolved and that building is being prepared for demolition.

But perhaps the most fascinating for the public, and the most annoying for those who usually traveled along State Street, was the move of the Post Office. With its walls stripped of their ivy-blanketed walls, 200-ton structure was placed on rollers and, for the next six months, crept from Church Street to 12th Street and its new home. Purchased by Willamette University, it became their School of Law in 1939, named for a distinguished professor, Robert Gatke, the author of Chronicles of Willamette, the Pioneer University of the West.

When you visit
Looking back at the city as it was that year, the outstanding difference is that the City Hall is no more. That High Street building is gone, with the focus of city administration now at the Civic Center to the south, between Trade and Leslie, Commercial and Liberty streets. The Salem Public Library is part of this complex.
The Oregon State Forestry Building survives, and it is worth a visit to see the beautiful woodwork that decorates the interior. Meanwhile, on the new Capitol property, the Patton residence, as well as all the private residences formerly on Court Street are now gone.
The elegant Gatke Hall is a familiar site now, but recently has gained a new next-door neighbor, the Ford Building with a very different architecture. They both blend into the campus atmosphere that reveals the story so vital to Salem's history: the Methodist missionary effort that was the birth of the city.

Other Events
  • The new Capitol Building is completed and dedicated on October 1.
  • Edith Patton moves into her new home on Leslie Street, bringing with her as railings by the front door, the wrought iron that once decorated the third floor balcony of the old Cooke-Patton mansion on Court Street where her husband, Hal Patton, had lived nearly all his life. He departed the family home briefly after his 1896 marriage to Ella Breyman, but returned when she left the marriage to pursue an acting career. A second marriage in 1911 to Nellie Lucia ended with her death. He married Edith Tidcomb in 1914 and, since the couple was unable to have children, adopted two little sisters whose mother had died. Hal himself died in 1934, a year before the State House fire that led to the demolition of his home in Piety Hill. Edith died in 1971. Her house is seen on the SHINE Gaiety Hill/Bush's Pasture Park Walking Tour.
  • The Salvation Army builds a handsome new headquarters building on State Street that will be their headquarters until 1968. The name can still be seen above the doorway. The structure is included in the SHINE Historic Downtown walking tour slide show on this website.
  • Salem Electric Company begins service, under the leadership of Harry Read. The company has headquarters in West Salem.
  • Dr. Ralph Purvine (1910-1974), son of pioneer Dr. Mary Bowerman Purvine and physician at Willamette University, establishes the Salem Clinic. In 1948 he would establish the Willamette University health Service.
  • Marion County voters approve the construction of a new Courthouse, but funds are not available. Meanwhile, the spruce tree on the Courthouse lawn is decorated as the community Christmas tree, marking the 25th anniversary of the first lighting in 1913 by the Cherrians.
  • With funds raised by the American Legion, Lee Eyerly purchased a five-acre plot of land on which he established Salem’s airport. By 1929, he founded an aviation school, and later, the first aircraft service station on the west coast. During the Depression of the 1930s, he took his invention, a trainer plane named the Orientator, to several fairs as an amusement ride. It became a success and was re-named the Acroplane. The last remnant of an Acroplane is now located at McNary airport on view from Turner Road. Until recently, the remains of the Acroplane have been stored at McNary Field. Its fate is uncertain.
From the Capitol Journal:
  • When Governor Martin leaned on the shovel to break ground for the new million dollar state library and office building in February, a spectator exclaimed, "Don't lean on that shove, Governor, this isn't a WPA project!"
  • Protests were presented to the Capitol Commission relative to sculptured figures being prepared by Leo Friedlander of New York for the new statehouse. Still living pioneers who had crossed the plains in covered wagons declared, "I never saw any pioneers who looked like that!"
  • Gold leafing of the 6-ton, 24 foot high  bronze statue of a pioneer that would top the Capitol building (from a height of 171 feet), would require the services of three man for more than two weeks. The cost of the job would be about $500 considering an ounce of gold was worth $100 at that time. It would have to be reapplied every 25 years.
(See Ben Maxwell's Salem,Oregon, edited by Scott McArthur, 2006.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a TYPO for the year of marriage of Hal Patton and Nellie Lucia. It should be 1911.