World Events

  • The Panama Canal celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • Robust global production causes oil prices to plummet, pleasing US drivers with lower cost for gas.
  • Ukraine explodes into violence as Pro-Russian and Pro-European supporters clash.  Russia intervenes militarily and annexes Crimean Peninsula. The Dinetsk Peoples Republic declares independence.
  • Malaysian airline shot down over Ukraine with loss of 295 on board.
  • Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa begins, infecting 28,000 people.
  • Belgium becomes the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age.
  • A Sunni militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) attempts to overthrow the Shite government, gaining control of Mosul and conducting a religious massacre in Sinjar.
  • A referendum in Scotland results in a vote to stay as a part of the UK.
  • Oregon passes Measure 91, legalizing the non-medical cultivation and uses of marijuana.  Sales to be legal from licensed dispensaries.
  • President Obama thaws relations with Cuba, future travel possible.
  •  Academy Awards: “Birdman” (US), “Ida” (Poland), Prize-winning books: Redeployment, Phil Klay and The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.

In Salem

Howard Hall shortly before it was demolished
  • In July, the Salem City Council voted to overturn a decision made by the city’s Historic Landmark Commission by a vote of 8-0. The question was one that had engaged public opinion for the last several years: whether to demolish the last building of the former Oregon School for the Blind, the Local Landmark known as Howard Hall. Salem Hospital had purchased the property when the school closed and the other buildings had been demolished in order to expand hospital facilities, but this last building had special value to former students who used it as a dormitory and classroom. It was in poor condition and the hospital claimed to have no use for it. When hospital representatives made the case before the Historic Landmarks Commission, the hospital plan was rejected.  The City Council then, in a specially called meeting. took up the question on behalf of the hospital administration and overruled their own commission, composed of members selected by the Council for their expertise in historical preservation.

When You Visit 
 The site on the corner of Church and Mission Street is now the location of an elaborate play yard designed especially for children who have physical limits. It is fenced to keep children safe, despite its being close to traffic. There is interpretive signage to recognize the former school for the blind.

Other Events

  • A group of citizens who would later become Progressive Salem recruited a local lawyer, Tom Andersen, to run for the City Council. He lived in the ward that included the politically active Gaiety Hill-Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District. The property use in question for the former Oregon School for the Blind is adjacent. The Progressive campaign was funded by people, not business interests, using individual funding and door-to-door contacts with voters. The result can be read here.
  • A downtown historic building enjoyed a better fate than Howard Hall. The McGilchrist Building, along with the accompanying Roth Building were completely renovated during more than a year of careful construction, removing the non-historic elements and preserving the exterior charm of the 1916 structure. Before and after photographs show the difference as color highlights features of the windows and the corner entrance becomes more prominent.
  •  Another state-owned, local National Register historic site was the subject of local discussion and controversy. At the Oregon State Hospital, two buildings on the campus were planned for preservation: one was the Kirkbride (already described) and Building 60 (below)
  • Perfectly preserved, this small structure is thought to have been an infirmary at one time. When the cremains of long ago inmates were discovered in a neglected condition, it was determined to preserve them in an artistic setting. Building 60 was chosen although it would require removing one wall, changing the historic significance of the building. This decision was appealed unsuccessfully and the project was completed. See below.
  •  The Historic Landmarks Commission establishes the Heritage Neighborhood program to encourage residents to learn about the history of their neighborhood and to engage in our City’s historic preservation efforts. Grant is the first neighborhood so recognized. Stroll through Grant using the Walking Tour found in that topic of this website.
  • The Commission also awarded a Historic Preservation Award to a gentleman who generously donated to both the Historic Residential Tool Box Fund and to the restoration of the Baggage Depot, leveraging more than twice that amount for restoration of local historic resources.
  • This year, the First Citizen award was presented to Jim Brenau, the founder and president of the Willamette Valley Winery. This vineyard along I-5, south of the city,  is among the many local vineyards attracting tours and individual visitors.
  •  City parking meters downtown were under controversy: the two hour limit was abolished, then a new three limit was established.
  • A local teacher, Julie Wojcicki, won one of five national Milken Educator Awards ~and was presented with a check for $25,000.
  • In October, Cylvia Hayes, engaged to Gov. Kitzhaber and considered “First Lady” of the state, was revealed to have previously contracted a “sham” marriage to an immigrant so he could retain residency in the US. There was also an ethics commission inquiry into her work as a private consultant.