Salem Landmarks and Monuments

(Salem, Oregon - OR, USA)

Being the state capital, Salem is where you will find important Oregon government offices, state landmarks, war memorials, prominent churches and university buildings. Between them they comprise a multitude of different architectural styles, both old and new.

Downtown Salem contains a number of the most historic buildings in Oregon, and so is well worth a wander, particularly since its shopping and dining scenes are so well developed.

Home to both the State Legislature and the Governor's offices, the third Oregon State Capitol Building began to emerge in the mid-1930s, following significant fire damage to the previous incarnation of the Capitol. Completed in 1938 at the cost of some US$2.5 million (more than US$40 million in today's money), this landmark is famous for its simplistic Art Deco marble exterior and unusual 'dome' structure.

Oregon State Capitol Building

Address: 900 Court Street Northeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 986 1388
The drum-like dome of the Oregon State Capitol Building is topped by a 7-meter / 22-foot golden statue of a woodsman named the Oregon Pioneer, which is floodlit at night by energy generated through solar panels. A strong earthquake made itself known in 1993 and caused significant structural damage to the dome, resulting in the need for expensive repairs lasting as long as two years. Guided tours take in the observation deck, where you can expect some sumptuous cityscape views. The extensive grounds include attractive gardens, with flowerbeds and seating, while the fountains at the front are popular with children during sunny days in the summer months.
Open hours: historical building tours (on the hour), Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 15:00; tower tours (on the hour), Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 16:00
Admission: free

First United Methodist Church

Address: 600 State Street, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 364 6709
The tallest landmark currently standing in the city of Salem is the First United Methodist Church on State Street. This eye-catching construction was erected between the years 1871 and 1878, and boasts an arresting Gothic Revival-style brick facade. The towering spire is painted white and takes the overall height of the church to just over 57 meters / 187 feet. Various renovations have taken place over the years, including the addition of a chancel rose window in 1953 and a replacement spire in 1984. Of note, the church owns the adjacent Methodist Inner-city Community Activities House (formerly the Salem Elks Building).
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Capitol Center

Address: 388 State Street, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 362 8382
An altogether different kind of city landmark, the Capitol Center appears much younger than its actual age, since it was surprisingly built way back in the 1920s, when it was named the First National Bank Building. Upon its completion, it immediately became Oregon's tallest commercial building, with its height being just a little short of 50 meters / 164 feet. Its architecture immediately began to cause controversy, with many claiming that it was dull and uninspiring. Others claimed it was a monument to modernity. Nevertheless, the Capitol Center joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, named as the Old First National Bank Building.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Willamette University

Address: 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 370 6300
The campus of the Willamette University sits on the southeastern side of downtown Salem, where it comprises a series of important buildings and structures, both old and new. Established as long ago as the early years of the 1840s, this is actually the oldest educational institute of its kind on the west coast. The university's campus has grown to a size of some 32 hectares / 80 acres and is now called home by almost 3,000 students, roughly two-thirds of which are undergraduates. Amongst the most notable buildings on the campus are Eaton Hall (1908), Gatke Hall (1903), Lausanne Hall (1920) and Waller Hall (1867).
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Historic Deepwood Estate

Address: 1116 Mission Street Southeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97302, USA
Tel: +1 503 363 1825
The story of the Historic Deepwood Estate is a long and interesting one, beginning in the year 1893, when some 2.5 hectares / 6 acres of land was purchased to create a grand family residence for the Port family. Architect William Knighton was duly hired and this became his earliest residential commission and certainly one of his grandest, with the overall cost being roughly 15 times the cost of an average property of that time. Interestingly, Knighton later went on to become the First State Architect of Oregon, being responsible for landmarks such as the Oregon Supreme Court Building, as well as Portland's rather grandiose Governor Hotel.

Sadly, following a family bereavement, the Port family never actually moved into their 'dream home' upon its completion in 1894 and chose to relocate to Los Angeles. In the 1930s, widowed owner Alice Brown spent much time developing the gardens and named the house 'Deepwood' after one of her favorite children's stories - 'The Hollow Tree and Deep Woods' by American author Albert Paine. Salem managed to acquire the home in 1971 and today, the whole estate is open for members of the general public to explore and enjoy.
Open hours: guided tours (on the hour), May to September, Wednesday to Monday - 09:00 to 12:00; October to December, February to April, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday - 11:00 to 15:00; January - by appointment
Admission: charge, discounts available for seniors, students and children, children five years old and under are free

Mahonia Hall

Address: 533 Lincoln Street South, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97302, USA
Standing on the southern side of the city (the South Central neighborhood) and just across from the Willamette Slough is Mahonia Hall. This historical local landmark was built in the early 1920s and features Tudor Revival-style architecture (Mock Tudor), with timber framing and period-type detailing, including a small turret. The stately, spacious property was acquired by the state of Oregon in 1988, thanks to a number of sizeable private donations, and has been the official residence of the state governor ever since. It was named Mahonia Hall after a naming competition, with the winner being inspired by the state flower of Oregon. In the year 1990, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, while in 2012, elevated levels of radon prompted repair work to the structure. Many grand events take place here throughout the year, often being staged in the ballroom, sited on the third floor.
Open hours: guided tours by arrangement
Admission: free