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

Monday, July 5, 2010

Salem in 1976

World events
  • Mao Zedong of Communist China dies; Irish Republican bombs explode in London.
  • The US celebrated its 200th anniversary; elected Jimmy Carter, as president
  • "Legionnaires' Disease" strikes in Philadelphia
  • Last US Convertibles roll out of Detroit, new Apple Company promises personal computers.

In Salem
A 40-year Salem controversy between a local cooperative, Salem Electric and PGE over electric power service was resolved this year, bringing underground wiring to downtown. Salem Electric was founded in 1938 by a group of West Salem residents led by Harry Read. Mr. Read stubbornly refused to limit SE's growth into downtown Salem commercial area, linking its West and North Salem service areas. During 1968, after several years of discussions, Salem Electric and PGE reached agreement on service boundaries for the Salem/Keizer area. In 1972, Salem Electric received its third point of delivery, Brush College Substation, from Bonneville Power Administration, providing a 70% increase in the co-op's available capacity. In 1975, Salem Electric's Board approved a $1 million loan to continue its acquisition of the remainder of PGE facilities and for conversion of overhead to underground facilities in the downtown area. When the project was complete, Liberty Street gained this improved appearance (seen in 2007) as part of a revitalized business environment.

When you visit
Salem Electric has moved from its former headquarters adjacent to downtown Salem. In 1968, Salem Electric had constructed a new office building and warehouse located adjacent to the old headquarters on the northwest corner of Front and Union Streets. But in 1976, the City of Salem condemned the co-op's eight-year-old headquarters as a part of its Front Street widening project. The current headquarters are on Seventh Street in West Salem.
The historic downtown, one of our most attractive civic features, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the designated Local Landmark buildings have informative plaques at their entrances. For an online walking tour, please click on that image on the homepage of SHINE. For a copy of the 2011 booklet that is a guide through the history of downtown Salem, call the Community Development Department at 503 588 6173.

Other Events
  • Craig Metten provides a dramatic sight for pedestrians on the ground as he scales the First Methodist Church tower during repairs. The steeple is replaced at this time. An even more startling photograph is taken looking down at Craig and the street below at the intersection of State and Church Streets.
View from Methodist Church steeple
Dining atop the Equitable Building
  • The new Equitable Building at Center and High Streets, now completed, rises above the one-story businesses to the south at Chemeketa Street. This new six-floor tower has a bank on the ground floor with offices above. But the real treat is the opportunity for a downtown view from one of the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Loft Restaurant on top floor. Unfortunately, the restaurant was open only a few years.
  • The Oregon State Capitol undergoes an expansion this year with wings at the north and south along State Street.
  • Karr's Tavern occupies the historic Boon Store; the renovation to contemporary use of this 1860 building is yet to come. The interior had the appearance of a living room in a residence. The 1846 Boon House had been removed to Mission Mill Museum property and placed on the National Register of Historic Places the year before.
  • Our McNary Airfield Air Control Tower receives an award for meritorious service by the Oregon National Guard. United Airlines is serving Salem this year with regularly scheduled commercial and passenger flights.
  • In August, Salem residents enjoy rides over the city in a Goodyear blimp. Refer to Oregon Historic Photographs Collection for many aerial views of Salem in 1948 and 1976.
  • The Downtown Development Advisory Board is created this year. Composed of a total of 11 members, 6 presently represent the interests of business, property owners and others with interest in the Riverfront Downtown Urban Renewal Area and 5 represent the community at large. Two members represent West Salem specifically.

The Reed Opera House undergoing renovation
  • A major rehabilitation of the Reed Opera House provides space for almost two dozen small retail stores in the basement and first floor. An attractive mezzanine opens the area for attractive vistas of the interior. Due to the attention being given to Salem historic preservation, the building is successfully nominated for the National Register in 1978. The Reed Opera House is featured on the Historic Downtown walking tour slide show on SHINE website.
Five neighborhood associations are organized this year:

  • Morningside, which is generally bordered by Madrona and Kuebler Drive as you travel south, east of Commercial and west of Fairview Industrial Drive. Businesses line both sides of Commercial Street, but the neighborhood remains residential. It was originally an area of orchards and a few properties still reflect that history. The SHINE Morningside photograph album shows 2 Local Landmark structures moved to the neighborhood, 3 that were in orchards, a significant International style home and another associated with one of Salem's most prominent early families.
  • Southeast Salem Neighborhood Association (SESNA) is located south of State Street where early middle class families as well as laborers of the Kay Mill and the railroad built their small craftsman houses 100 yeas ago.
  • Sunnyslope, is a relatively new South Salem section of the city and has had little historical research. The Wingate house on Kuebler Drive is the only representative so far.
  • Highland was organized by Henry Minthorn as a Quaker community. It later featured the suburban Hollywood Business area along Portland Road.
  • Grant, just north of downtown, is one of our oldest neighborhoods (and the smallest), containing many historic properties. The neighborhood is working on establishing a historic district. The city maintains support of these organizations and provides information on the Neighborhoods page of the city website.

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