Four years after the Columbus Day windstorm, the Waite Fountain reconstruction is complete in Willson Park. As a crowd gathers for the dedication ceremonies, Ben Maxwell photographs the scene. In the background are buildings that characterize Salem's downtown: the Methodist Church, a symbol of the missionary beginning of the community; the Livesley Building, representing the local business enterprise; and the Marion County Courthouse, reminding us that Salem is part of a larger political administration. Willson Park is important to Salem, being part of the first city plat and, literally, the political and intellectual center of the city as it grew: adjacent to both the Oregon State Capitol and our premier educational resource, Willamette University. In this year of 1966, the city loses its authority over the park, as it had over other city property: ownership passes to the state of Oregon.
When you visit
Ownership of the park makes little difference to the visitors who are there to enjoy walking in the beautiful landscape of lawn, trees, flowers and fountains. For those who also might like to learn about Salem's history and pay respect to historical events and personalities, the opportunities are becoming more challenging. The early park featured a concert bandstand for residents, many living within walking distance in surrounding residential neighborhoods. The Waite fountain offered colored lights that gave evening strollers a visual treat. Now the bandstand, no longer in use, is relocated to the margin of the lawn and fountain, seen above as rebuilt after the 1962 windstorm, has lost its original Technicolor effect that made it such a magnet of visitor attention. The Circuit Rider was once prominently displayed before the entrance to the State House as a tribute to Salem's religious founders, is hidden is a grove of trees at the east side of the Capitol. The Breyman Brothers Memorial, standing at the park's Cottage Street entrance, was originally a memorial to local men who fought in the Spanish American War and was topped with a statue of an American military serviceman. The statue is gone and what remains of the memorial is the trough at the base that once supplied water to horses ~ a lower trough on the park side was intended for dogs. Eugene and Werner Breyman, who donated the memorial, lived in elaborate residences, now demolished, on Court Street and State Street, both within site of the memorial.
Taking prominence in Willson Park today are state flags, tributes to Native American tribes and a modern statuary group. The park is currently designed as an attraction for tourists as well as residents. In 2010, state began a plan to make improvements in the area encompassing Willson Park and North Capitol Mall as far as Center Street (originally the four Piety Hill residential blocks). This new landscaped, visitor area will be the State Capitol State Park.
- Five fires cause property loss throughout the city: In January, the Senator Hotel on High Street; in March, at Keith Brown Lumber Plant on Front Street; in May, the Berkheimer Building on Church and Trade Streets; in November, Waters Field at 25th and Mission Streets; and (date unknown), the Peerless Bakery on North Commercial Street.
- Douglas Hay resigns his office as Municipal Judge, being elected to the Marion County Circuit Court. In this year the term of the Salem Municipal Judge is extended to four years. Dale Pierson is appointed by the Council and later elected to the office.
|Patton Building on State Street, 1886|
|US Bank extended (left section under tree branches)|
- The former Ladd and Bush Bank Building (now US National Bank) has been completely reconstructed and enlarged. In order to expand the bank building along State Street, the 1869 Patton Building was demolished in the previous year. The photographs above show the Patton enterprise when it was a center of local business and the 1966 US Bank extension.
- State Street gets a new look as the historic Patton Building is demolished for the extension along State Street of the US National Bank. Formerly the Ladd and Bush Bank, the new owners completely gutted the building as it had been from 1869 to 1940, renovating the structure. However, to honor its past, the bank lobby displays many historic photographs representing Salem's downtown and the Bush family's association with the bank. The public is welcome to visit these exhibits. (To the left in both photographs is the alley beyond which the Gill Building was already a popular meeting place in the 1870s.)
- West of 12th Street, in the University residential area of town, the Ferry-Oak Street residential neighborhood continues to change with urban growth and the expanding hospital. Only one residence remains in place and another survives by being moved.
- Plans are made to preserve another historic building, the Methodist Parsonage, in a Mission Mill Museum location.
- Aldrich Park in the SESNA neighborhood is getting new playground equipment this year. The park was named for Lewis Aldrich, a banker with the former Ladd and Bush Bank and first Chief Executive Officer with Pioneer Trust Company. He and his wife Donna had no children, but the trust she established in his name still benefits Salem though bequests to three parks (Grant, Northgate and Aldrich) and two grants to the Deepwood property. The first grant was for the house, gardens and land to the street on the south. Deepwood II was for the area to the west of the Deepwood I grant to Pringle Creek. This effort would not have been possible without Mary Eyre’s leadership. Through the efforts of Stuart Compton, the Walton Foundation joined the Aldrich Fund to fund the project. Financially, Deepwood was the Aldrich Funds largest commitment. It preserved a unique area, physically joined Deepwood and Bush property and today funds Deepwood's Youth Interpretive Program.
- When the first new 35-passenger Cherriots bus arrives in Salem, it rolls off the railroad car and city administrators climb aboard for a photograph.
- Salem has a marina on the Willamette River. Several private "yachts" accompany the Marion County Sheriff's Marine Patrol. In the next October, a windstorm demolishes the boathouse and damages the boats ~ for the third time in five years.
- The Prime Rib Restaurant is constructed at Pine Street on the Willamette River. Fine dining and beautiful views of the river made it popular with Salem families. However, by the mid-1980s the original owners had sold the property and the restaurant had gone into foreclosure. In 1998 the building became the Stars Cabaret, a strip club. The windows that had offered a river view were masked with black paint. This enterprise closed within a few years. By 2011, the empty structure had been renovated and reopened as the Club Illusion Sport Bar and Restaurant. A fire destroyed the building the next January.