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

Friday, July 23, 2010

Salem in 1990

World Events
  • Nelson Mandela is freed in South Africa; Iraq invades Kuwait.
  • Major US companies announce they will on longer buy tuna caught in nets that trap dolphin.
  • "Driving Miss Daisy" wins Academy Award.
The Capitol Theater dome at night
In Salem
The Capitol Theater, here easily distinguished for the lighted dome of its marquee, closes this year. Twenty years later, even for residents who did not live here then, it is sad that such an attractive feature of downtown life could have been extinguished. However, when this theater and the Elsinore (around the corner on High Street) were built in 1926, silent movies were quite an exciting advance in entertainment. "Talkies" were the sensation of the early 1930s. Going to the movies continued to be the favorite leisure entertainment through the Depression with tickets only a dime. Movies we look back on as classics date from the late 1930s: "Gone with the Wind", "Wizard of Oz", "Grapes of Wrath". These were followed during the early 1940s by "Citizen Kane", "Casablanca" and "Mrs. Miniver". Then came young Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet", Ronald Reagan in "Kings Row" and the unforgettable duo of Bogart and Bacall in "To Have and Have Not".
But the public found it more convenient to stay home once TV entertained the family in the living room. By 1956 was announced that downtown Salem would be served by only two movie houses during the winter and that the Capitol and the Elsinore would operate only at night, except for Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees. Movie theaters have gradually changed to suit special audiences, but the older houses like the Capitol were not able to adjust and so closed.

When you visit
Take a walk east on the south side of State Street, crossing High. The first structure you pass will be the Bligh Building (now a restaurant) and then there is a small parking lot. Look at the back of the lot and you will see the impression of the theater building that is no more.

Other events
The Davis-Karn House on Hollywood Drive
  • The NOLA (North Lancaster Association) neighborhood association is organized this year. One of the main residential streets is Hollywood Drive, between Sunnyview and Silverton Road. Above: This beautiful 1925 home looks like a movie set: the French windows that line the front of the house make one imagine Fred Astaire is about to dance out with Ginger Rogers. Walter Davis built the house according to the design of his wife Ella, who loved to read "movie magazines", according to her niece, Edna Munson Karn. Edna's family lived with her grandparents on their farm, also on Hollywood Drive. Edna (with her brother and sister) moved in with the childless Davis couple when their own parents moved to West Salem for orchard work during the Depression: the children wanted to continue at Parrish School. Edna met David Karn at the Crystal Garden ballroom and after their marriage in 1947, they lived in a house they built next door to this property. They moved into this house in 1982. The fifth generation of the family visits to enjoy this park-like property in NOLA.
  •  North Gateway Redevelopment Board is established this year as a citizen group to advise the city on North Gateway Renewal Area projects. This 902-acre renewal area centers on Portland Road, once the main highway between Seattle and San Francisco. After the I-5 construction, the area had lost business opportunities and transportation problems that included poor traffic circulation. Due to railroad lines, some streets did not go through, or there were areas with only one access into an industrial area: that was a fire/safety hazard if one of the many trains blocked it. Projects in this renewal area also include rehabilitation for business to attract new investment and improved amenities in the residential areas.
  • State Lands Building on Summer Street
    The State Lands Building is built on North Summer Street between D and Union Streets. The State Land Board is Oregon’s oldest board, established in 1859 as the “Board of Commissioners for the sale of school, and university lands, and for the investment of the funds arising there from." The board has retained the same membership (Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer) throughout its history. It presently manages grazing and agricultural land; forest land; industrial, commercial and residential land; off-shore land, estuarine tidelands, and submerged and submersible lands of the state’s extensive navigable waterway system. The agency also manages 3 million acres of mineral rights owned by other state agencies. Proceeds from management of lands and waterways and other activities become part of the Common School Fund principal. 
  • The historic Eugene Breyman residence was demolished for the new state building. The photograph below shows the location of the house with the railing of the Mill Creek Bridge in the place as in the previous picture.
  • The Eugene Breyman residence. Notice the railing of the Mill Creek Bridge crossing Summer Street.
  • Salem’s Sesquicentennial Celebration observes the 150th anniversary of the founding of the pioneer Salem settlement. A series of activities enabled the whole community to join in the festivities. The Celebration Committee and other organizations scheduled events for all ages, and the Salem City Council’s proclamation officially recognized this special time in the history of our city.
  • The church building at 1760 State Street, now the Church of God of Oregon, celebrates a 100th anniversary.
  • In November, Barbara Roberts is elected as Oregon's first woman governor and takes office January 1, 1991.
  • The Northern Spotted Owl is listed as an endangered species by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. This and other listings lead to drastic cuts in timber harvesting with a permanent loss in Oregon employment.
  • An initiative approved by voters requires seat belts for all occupants of automobiles, including car seats for young children.
  • Salem's population reaches 107,786.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We were sorry when the Capitol Theater was razed. In a larger city, during better times, that block with two theaters and several restaurants would have generated much interest in cultural events, socializing, and downtown living.

Also remember taking my kids to the sesquicentennial parade and festivities. They made tiles with their names and handprints on them that, as far as I know, are still displayed in Gilbert House. My dad spent months preparing for the beard contest. Didn't win, though!

Virginia said...

Thanks for sharing your Salem memories. I hope you will help me out as the SHINE years roll into the 1990s ~ very little in the way of historical resources as we almost have passed into "current events"!

peter brady said...

It was also this year that the Salem Public Library underwent a major remodel. The entire library and it's contents were moved to the then old "Smith's Home Furnishings" or "Nyco" building on fairgrounds( Capital) Rd. The library reopened in January,1991