In the late 1940s, when proposals were made to demolish both
the building that housed Oregon's capitol at statehood and
Marion County's 80-year-old courthouse, many people became
upset at the loss of Salem's heritage. Eventually, in
1950, they formed the Marion County Historical Society.
Led by its first president, David Duniway, the society promoted
historic preservation in Marion County as well as held educational
programs and published booklets of Marion County history.
It led preservation efforts for historic buildings such as
the Jason Lee House, the Thomas B. Kay Woolen Mill and Historic
Deepwood Estate. It also briefly operated a museum in Gervis
in the early 1970s.
About 1980, the society began a museum in a small room of
Mission Mill Museum. This effort expanded in 1984 when the
society purchased the mill's old retail store and converted
it into a museum, in which the society's headquarters were
still located in 2002.
The society has expanded its services and activities over
the years. It is the only full-service historical organization
in the county providing a museum and research library, educational
programs, publications, and heritage tree program. In
1999, it received a certificate of commendation (one of less
than 100 awarded) from the American Association for State
and Local History, and the NonProfit Member of the Year Award
from the Salem Convention and Visitors Association.
The mission of the society is to advocate and promote an
appreciation of regional history by preserving and interpreting
the county's cultural and natural history.
The society's museum is located on the northwest corner of
Mission Mill Museum at 260 12th St. SE. Its hours are noon-4
p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, phone (503) 364-2128
Visit the society's web site at www.marionhistory.org.
Compiled by Kyle Jansson
Marion County Historical Society