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

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Salem in 1955

World Events
  • Advisers are sent to aid South Vietnam government against Communists in that country.
  • Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California.
  • Bill Haley introduces "rock 'n' roll" music blending country and blues.
In Salem
Salem shoppers are excited about the opening of a local branch of Portland's Meier and Frank department store. The business enterprise is built on the traditional site of Salem schools: the 1906 Salem High School and the earlier Central School. Gerry Frank, owner and manager, became a well-known political and business leader in Salem and was a prominent member of Governor Hatfield's staff. This is a photograph of the familiar entrance on the southwest corner of Center and High Streets N.E. The view includes the southeast corner of the building's parking structure at Center and Church Streets N.E. It shows Salem's use of parking meters downtown at that time and the grid of one-way streets.

When you visit
This department store chain has been sold to Macy's, but the local branch continues to operate at this location. Information about Gerry Frank's Konditorei was published in 1999 by SalemHistory website. This specialty restaurant currently (2014) operates at the southeast corner of Kearny and Commercial Streets.
The iconic Meier and Frank lobby clock, famed as a local meeting spot, was given to the Salvation Army Kroc Center by Frank in 2008. The gilt-encrusted clock had been installed in 1955 and is the work of Welton Beckett Architects in Los Angeles. It was removed from Meier and Frank in summer 2006, when the May Co. remodeled the building.

Other Events
  • A Christmas parade for children is inaugurated this year. It continues as the 'Festival of Lights." However, due to the city's inability to aid in the financing, the parade moved to Keizer in 2011.
  • The former President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, visits Salem where he lived for three years in his youth. The Newberg home of his uncle, Henry Minthorn, is renovated beyond recognition this year.
  • The foreground of this aerial view of the 1955 Salem downtown shows the availability of land on the hill south of Pringle Creek that will later house the new Civic Center (left foreground of the photograph). In the left center, the area of the three bridges that cross the Willamette River (back to front) the railroad bridge, Marion Street Bridge and Center Street Bridge. The dark tall evergreens at the end of the bridges are in Marion Square Park. North-south streets (left to right) are Front Street; Commercial Street with the Columbia River Paper Company at the left edge of picture. The present Civic Center is located in the left foreground.  Up one block is the Marion Motor Hotel and one block further Ladd and Bush Bank; Liberty Street with the tall Capitol Tower building at the State Street intersection; and High Street with Marion County Courthouse (trees and grass in front, far right) and on the other side of the street further along is Salem City Hall with its clock tower.
  • Brush Creek School, established in 1895, still has only a single classroom when the students and their teacher pose for a portrait outside the front porch. Since then, the school buildings have expanded and been renovated several times. The unique quality of this school is that the original bell tower still remains, even with the bell itself. The school celebrated its long service to the community in 2010 with an exhibition of student work and a collection of historical photographs. 
  • Graduates of the 1890 class of East School held a reunion at the home of Dan Fry in August of this year.  This school was one of Salem's architectural gems, but unfortunately the maintenance of the building was too high and the facilities out-of-date. To local historical preservationists, who have little influence in city planning, the three greatest architectural losses have been this school building, the old City Hall on High Street and the Victorian Marion County Courthouse. None of these could have continued in their original functions so these demolitions were logical financially. Whether any one of these could have been transformed into a local historical museum, devoted to the city's heritage, is debatable. We still (2012) have no institution in Salem dedicated to this purpose.
  • The plaque that commemorated the location of Salem's first commercial venture, the Thomas Cox store on the northeast corner of Ferry and Commercial Streets in 1847, was removed this year from the building that stood there. The photograph that was taken is our only record of the plaque which has disappeared. Ed Ritter, wrecker, is pictured on the left.
  • One of Salem's most outstanding local businesses, the Paulus Brothers Packing Company, is sold to Dole Pineapple Company, Ltd. This is a further signal that traditional canning operations have become limited because of the popularity of frozen foods. All the canning facilities south of Trade Street were replaced by parks and other urban uses. This gentrification of the downtown has given it a more attractive appearance and made room for enterprises such as SAIF and a downtown, Pringle Creek condominium, Salmon Run. This loss of industry has been a detriment to the economy of the city 
  • Myra Albert Wiggins, a granddaughter of the pioneer Holman family who left Salem to pursue a successful career as a photographer, dies at her home in Toppenish, Washington at the age of 86. Myra's life as a wife and mother never limited her career. Her love of family, natural beauty, the theme of Native American women and her world travel were all reflected in the art she produced. Her life is profiled on Salem Lifelines.

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