1-866-614-1900 200 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97301 DIRECTIONS

Where Can I Explore Salem Oregon’s Fascinating History?

Where Can I Explore Salem Oregon’s Fascinating History?
Dear SCC,
I will be attending a multi-day meeting in your facility in the late spring and was wondering if you have any suggestions on places I could visit while I’m in town. I’m a history buff, btw.
Ronald H. from Medford, OR

Dear Ronald,

Thanks for your question. We’re delighted you’ll be staying with us and as a history buff, you’ll be happy to know that a fascinating world of historic significance is outside our facility! In fact, Salem is one of just six communities in Oregon that has been recognized by the Oregon Heritage Commission as a Heritage All-Star Community. We hope you’ll take some time to explore our beautiful historic downtown and fascinating places that tell the story of Salem Oregon’s history.

The Salem Downtown Historic District is a seven block area roughly bounded by Chemeketa, High, Ferry, and Front Streets. The district is historically significant for its association with a regional response to the discovery of gold in California, the commercial response to the development of agriculture in the Willamette Valley, and the development of the Oregon Territory, and later the State of Oregon. The district is also architecturally significant for its collection of a variety of commercial architectural styles.

FYI, While you’re hear, don’t forget your special camera lense! The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) is sponsoring a Historic Photo Contest in honor of Historic Preservation Month, May 2018. The Commission is looking for photos highlighting Salem’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, and places that matter to Salem residents. This contest is for amateur and professional photographers of all ages. Click here for deadlines, rules and additional details.

The best place to begin your historical tour of Downtown Salem is at the interpretive panel inside the Salem Conference Center on the stair landing at the Ferry and Commercial Street corner where you can look out at the City’s beginnings. As you travel back in time, as far back as 1847, you’ll learn interesting facts such as

  • A network of tunnels underneath Salem Oregon’s streets and sidewalks once connected stores, and (according to rumors), provided an escape for errant persons visiting “speakeasy businesses”.
  • Most of the early buildings in the historic district were composed of bricks made at the State prison between 1880 and 1930.
  • State Street was once named “Prison Row” and Center Street was called “Asylum Street”.

While you’re here, you may want to visit the following destinations with historical significance.  Most of these are either walking distance or a very fast ride away: 

Click here for more ideas, walking tours and itineraries to get the most out of your visit! Hope you enjoy your history lesson and please do not hesitate to contact us for more info or ideas on places you can visit during your stay.  Safe travels and good luck with your upcoming convention! 


The Salem Convention Center Staff 

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