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Glen Oaks Orphanage
Privately organized in late 1865 by a group of Salem women, the Children's Aid Society had as their first objective a refuge "for orphaned and friendless children" anywhere in the state.

Charter members of the society were Mrs. J. L. Parrish, Mrs. S. A. Clarke, Mrs. Julia Smith, and Mrs. J. H. Moores. They placed deserving children in private homes until a facility could be secured for properly caring for the youngsters. This was accomplished in 1869 when the Glen Oaks Orphans' Home was built in East Salem on ten acres of land donated by Mrs. Parrish. This parcel of land was across from what would later become the Insane Asylum property.

Private donations and memberships in the society on the part of public spirited citizens proved sufficient to maintain the home until 1872 when the society requested aid from the Legislature. That initial grant of $3,000 for operating expenses continued for the next twenty-five years. The county also provided funds.

Vice Presidents of the society were appointed for each county in the state. Their responsibilities involved finding and transporting any needy children to the Salem home, where the Board of Managers were charged with finding good adoptive homes for the children.

Examples of these adoptions are documented in a number of sources in Marion County records, such as the County Commissioners Court journals, County Court records, probate documents, Marion County Miscellaneous Records, Public Welfare records for the county, and Oregon Laws for Adoptions and Name Changes. Although adoption records are sealed even for these early years, there are ways of finding out who these fortunate youngsters were who found secure homes after the tragic loss of a mother or father.

By 1886, the original two-story facility had been outgrown. Once again the Legislature stepped in with an increased one-time grant and an offer of brick to build a new home on the property. In addition, another five acres was added to the Home’s property to plant an orchard and garden for self-sufficiency.

In 1887 a two-story comfortable home with electric lighting, pumped-in water, and a basement furnace for heating was completed. Outside, "cement walks and a graveled driveway give easy access, while flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs please the eye and give an air of cheerful comfort to the whole premises."

Anywhere from a dozen to thirty children from all over the state made their residence at the orphanage. When funds were available, a teacher was hired to instruct the youngsters; when that was impossible, they attended local schools.

After thirty-three years in existence, the Glen Oaks Orphans' Home ceased operation in 1898 due to a lack of funding by the Legislature. Homes were found for as many of the twenty-three children in the Orphanage as possible. Three remaining children were sent to Portland's Gardiner Home. The building itself was turned over to the state and became the second location of Salem's hospital in 1900.

The Children's Aid Society, however, made one stipulation to that sale: three beds would be kept in reserve for any indigent youngster needing medical treatment. The society requested that the ward be named the "Elizabeth Parrish ward" in honor of the lady who had first conceived the idea of the orphan’s home and who had donated its original plot of land.

Researched and written by Sue Bell.

Oregon Statesman. 13 Apr. 1887, p. 3; 1 Jan. 1899 p.22.; 11 Jan. 1899, p.5; 6 Jan. 1900, p. 6.

Salem Daily Record 23 June 1867, p. 2.

Willamette Farmer 29 March 1869, p. 1

"First Biennial Report of the State Board of Charities and Corrections"--1892, p. 299.

Marion County Deeds, April 1879.


Glen Oaks Orphanage
Glen Oaks Orphanage
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