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508-524 State Street
(Historic Downtown Salem)
 
Classification: Historic Contributing
Historic Name: Bligh Building
Current Name: Pacific Building
Year of Construction: 1926/1970s
Legal Description: 073W27AB02300; Salem Addition, from Lots 7 and 8 in Block 7

Owner(s): Samuel Blair
POB 1108
Salem, Oregon 97308

Description: This 21,438 square-foot concrete, white brick-faced Commercial style building occupies the southeast corner of State and High streets. The west side, second-floor fenestration is comprised of sixteen windows, some that are one-over-one, double-hung wood sash and others that are fixed. The building has a dentiled cornice, a wide frieze, a terra cotta beltcourse, and lion’s head downspouts. The ground floor appears to have been altered in the 1970s and is devoted to display windows with overhanging fabric awnings. The building retains its overall historic materials and design and contributes to the historic character of the downtown district.

History and Significance: The Bligh Building, constructed in 1926, conveys a sense of the historical evolution of the Salem commercial district. Although the street-level facade has been successively altered over the years and the present awning is not historical, the original second-floor materials, fenestration, and decorative details have been recovered in recent years after remodeling in the 1960s completely covered the exterior walls with smooth vertical paneling. Rehabilitation of the second floor would be completed if the reflective single-pane glass in the second-floor windows were replaced with historically accurate double-hung sash windows. This building is also associated with the life of Frank D. Bligh, Salem hotel and theater owner.

Frank D. Bligh and his mother, Anna Bligh, bought this large corner property when the Hotel Salem (formerly the Monroe House, then, Cook’s House), a large two-story structure set back from State Street, stood on the site. Born in 1890 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Frank D. Bligh came to the United States with his parents in 1904, settling first in Portland, Oregon, and, in Salem in 1908. T.G. Bligh and his son, Frank, soon opened the Star Theater, and, later, the Liberty Theater. In 1912 the Blighs built the combined Bligh Hotel and Bligh Theater on the north side of State Street, next to the Masonic Building, between High and Liberty streets. (This complex is now gone and the site is occupied by a parking lot.) Following the death of T.G. Bligh, Frank D. Bligh took over the family hotel and theater business. In 1926 he built the Bligh Building and the adjoining (to the east) Capitol Theater of reinforced concrete. At that time, the Bligh Building had no less than ten separate shop spaces, facing State and High streets. He also opened the Salem Hotel and operated the Grand Hotel. Frank Bligh married Mildred Rhodes. They raised a daughter, Margaret Ann Schweigert.

In 1945 Walter C. and Lottie D. Winslow bought the Bligh Building. Walter C. Winslow was born in 1882 in Polk County a short distance from Salem. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1906 and Willamette University Law School in 1908, Winslow was admitted to the Oregon State Bar and began practicing law in the Salem offices of Oregon Senator Charles L. McNary and J.H. McNary. A highlight of his career came in 1947 when he served as an Oregon Supreme Court justice pro tem while Justice James T. Brand was officiating at the war crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany. Winslow was a leader in Salem’s YMCA and in the First Methodist Church. He was also an avid outdoorsman. Lottie and Walter Winslow raised three children: Norman (a partner in his father’s law firm), Genevieve Mickenham, and Gertrude Blanchard. Lottie died in 1961. Walter died of a heart attack in 1962. The Winslow family retained ownership of the building until 1976 when Norman Winslow sold it to S. Blair and T.K. Haenny.

 

 
Current photo of 508-524 State Street
Current photo of 508-524 State Street
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Memorial Day Parade, May 30, 1941.
The scene from the Memorial Day Parade, May 30, 1941, is at State Street with the view facing the south side of the street. Cars and people line both sides of State Street, the people watching the parade of men. Three street lights, one a solid concrete structure, are located on the north corner of State Street where it intersects High Street.
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Salem celebrates the end of World War II on August 14, 1945.
Salem celebrates the end of World War II on August 14, 1945. The celebrants are teenagers and college students. The cars are covered with people, flags, and confetti. The gas rationing ended that day, hence all the cars in the streets. This celebration takes place on State Street at High Street. On the right side there is the Warner Bros Capitol theater.
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