|Salems Sesquicentennial Celebration observed
the 150th anniversary of the founding of Oregons capital
city. A series of activities planned over a nine-month period,
from October 1990 through June 1991, enabled the whole community
to join in the festivities. The Celebration Committee and numerous
local organizations scheduled events for all ages, and the Salem
City Councils proclamation officially recognized this
special time in the history of our city.
Initial planning got underway in January 1990, when a small
group decided at a breakfast meeting that a 150th birthday called
for a party. The committee soon grew to include representatives
of historical and cultural groups, downtown and local businesses,
civic organizations, and the community at large. Co-chairs were
Jane Cummins and Mike Wehr (until October 1990) and Jim Randall.
A gala kick-off was set for October 27, 1990, in the former
Frederick and Nelson department store building in downtown Salem.
Window displays depicting the history of the area drew attention
through most of the month of October. On Saturday, the 27th,
the building was opened to the public historic displays
and a living museum occupied the first floor. In the evening,
a Victorian dinner was served on the second floor, and a Costume
Ball followed on the lower floor. Salem Center, with a generous
contribution, was joined by a number of Salem businesses to
sponsor the kick-off. Untold hours were given by volunteers,
as well, to enable the use of the Frederick and Nelson building.
Through the fall, winter, and spring months, special activities
commemorated the Sesquicentennial. Major events included:
-Participation in the first KBZY Christmas parade
-Sesquicentennial exhibits at the Capitol in December
-Heritage Week activities at the Salem City Library
-"A Moment Ago" presentation in February
-Assistance with the Historic District tour in April
-Publication of a special Sesquicentennial section by the
-Publication of Alfred Jones series on Salem history in the
The grand finale on June 1, 1991, featured an old-fashioned
community parade, "Steppin Back in Time,"
and family fun on the riverfront. Hundreds of community-spirited
enthusiasts, young and old alike, marched, walked or rode
in the parade, which wound its way through downtown streets.
A community birthday cake, a "beards and bonnets"
contest, and other attractions in the afternoon drew many
folks to the riverfront for the very first time. Once again,
donations and volunteer time from local businesses, organizations,
and individuals made it all happen.
Compiled by Shirley Herrmann
A collection of artifacts and documents from the Salem History
collection, Salem Public Library