Buildings That Move - Salem, Oregon
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member ddtfamily
N 44° 56.557 W 123° 02.043
10T E 497313 N 4976576
Historical marker at the corner of Church & Center streets
Waymark Code: WMGPEB
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 03/27/2013
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

This marker is one of a series placed around Salem to give visitors information about the city's history. It is found at the corner of Church & Center streets in downtown Salem. The marker text reads:


If you stood here in 1950, you would be standing on the campus of Salem's first senior high school. Built in 1906, Salem High was demolished in 1953 to make room for a shopping center. A new school was built northeast of downtown and is now North Salem High. Over the years other landmarks were torn down for redevelopment or destroyed by fire. Most notable were Salem's original City Hall, with its six-story clock tower, built in 1893 and demolished in 1972; and the State Capitol, built in 1876 after the first Capitol burned down in 1855 after being occupied for only a year. The second Capitol, with a massive copper dome, burned to the ground in a spectacular 1935 blaze.

Top Photo caption: Salem High School circa 1918.

Fortunately, many buildings of historical importance in the downtown area have been saved by moving them out of the way of progress and rehabilitating them for continued use. Here are a few worth finding:

Gatke Hall - Willamette University

Gatke Hall originally opened its doors in 1903 as a federal post office. In 1938, the stone building was lifted from its original location on Church Street and rolled on logs down State Street to Willamette University. At the time, it was thought to be the heaviest building ever moved. Named in honor of Robert Moulton Gatke, a prominent professor of political science and history, Gatke Hall was the College of Law until 1967. Today it is used for faculty offices, research labs and studio space. Gatke Hall is located on the northeast corner of the Willamette campus at State and 12th Street.

Jason Lee House - The Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill

Jason Lee, a Methodist missionary and early settler, constructed lumber and grist mills on the north bank of Mill Creek in 1840. In 1841, he built his home nearby with lumber milled at the site. It is the longest surviving, wood-frame building in Salem and has the distinction of having been moved twice; first from its original location on Broadway (High Street north) to Front Street in 1963, then in 1975 to the property of Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, a historical heritage site just east of Willamette University. Today the Jason Lee House has been restored to its original condition and is open to the public.

First Presbyterian Church - Corner of Chemeketa & Winter Streets

This church was not moved very far, but considering the height of the spire, the large columns holding up the classic pediment entry and the overall size of the brick church, it was quite a feat. Built in 1928, the church was moved diagonally across the intersection of Chemeketa and Winter Streets to make way for the State's Labor & Industries building. The move began in the winter of 1958 and continued for six months at an intentionally slow pace to avoid damage to the sanctuary.

CLUSTERS OF HISTORIC HOMES Two places in Downtown are made up of historic homes moved from residential streets that formerly surrounded the Capitol: A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village - A children's museum housed in several historic homes on Water Street in Riverfront Park. North Mall Heritage Park - A cluster of historic homes in a park-like setting north of the Capitol area on Winter Street.

Click a photo to enlarge

On the backside of this marker is a "You are Here" map, designed to orient pedestrians to Salem's nearby points of interest.

Historic Topic: Pioneer

Group Responsible for placement: City Government

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Marion

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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