|The commodious house built at the
intersection of Marion and Water Streets on the east bank of
the Willamette River for Andrew T. Gilbert in 1887 is significant
as one of two outstanding large-scale examples of Queen Anne
architecture in Salem and as the only substantial historic house
remaining in the downtown core.
The house is significant also for its association with I.
N. Gilbert. I. N. Gilbert, father of A. T. and Frank Gilbert,
was the first clerk of Marion County U. S. District Court,
and County Surveyor. He laid out and platted the Territorial
road from Salem to Fosters at the end of the Oregon
Trail in 1846, and he made the first plat of Salem. The elder
Gilbert made his home next door to that of his son, at the
corner of Marion and Front Streets. His house is no longer
The architect and builder of the house was C. A. Robert,
who was born in Quebec Province in 1854 and had been a student
of architecture at Sherbrooke College. Robert came to Salem
the year this house was designed and built, and he obtained
a contract to design and build the office, bakery, laundry,
and bath house at Chemawa Indian School, just north of the
A. T. Gilbert, for whom the house was built, was senior partner
with his brother Frank in the Salem banking house of Gilbert
Brothers, 1879-1901. Starting as bankers and brokers doing
general agency business, they became a general banking establishment
in 1885. A. T. Gilbert was a trustee of Pacific University
in Forest Grove in the 1890s. A. T. Gilbert has a distinguished
nephew, the son of his brother and partner Frank Alfred Carlton
Gilbert, founder of the A. C. Gilbert Co., world renowned
toy manufacturer and inventor of the Erector set, a metal
The City of Salem purchased the house in 1985 as part of
its future Riverfront Development Project. A. C. Gilberts
Discovery Village acquired the Gilbert House through a no-cost
lease and restored it with grants from the Meyer Memorial
Trust and the community. The Museum opened on December 15,
Some fast facts about A. C. Gilbert, toy manufacturer and
nephew of A. T. Gilbert original owner of The Gilbert House.
1884: Alfred Carlton "A.C." Gilbert born
in Salem, Oregon.
1900: Attends Pacific University at Forest Grove,
1907: John Petrie begin manufacturing Mysto Magic
1908: Breaks world record for pole vaulting, wins
gold medal for vaulting in London Olympic Games; Marries Mary
1909: Graduates from Yale with a degree in medicine;
With John Petrie establishes the Mysto Manufacturing Company.
1913: Erector Set introduced at toy fairs in New York
City and Chicago.
1916: Polar Cub fans introduced.
1917: Opens the worlds largest toy plant; first
chemistry sets marketed.
1918: Appeals to Congress to allow toy manufacturing
during WWI and saved the toy industry.
1920: Gilbert Company issued broadcasting license
for their own promotional radio programming.
1935: Introduction of Gilberts microscope set.
1938: Gilbert purchases rights to American Flyer trains.
1941: Gilbert Hall of Science opens in New York City.
1942: Gilbert Company joins war effort, manufacturing
flares and range indicators for anti-aircraft guns.
1943: Gilbert Company receives first of four Army-Navy
"E" awards for its participation in the war effort.
1946: American Flyer "S" gauge trains introduced
1954: A. C. Gilbert steps down as president of A.
C. Gilbert Company.
1964: A. C. Gilbert dies, held 150 patents
1967: A. C. Gilbert Company closes.
Researched and written by Paul Porter