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Ten Interesting and Historically Significant Salem Oregon Landmarks to Visit

Ten Interesting and Historically Significant Salem Oregon Landmarks to Visit

There’s something very appealing about exploring historical attractions while you are traveling– especially in Oregon’s capital city. From historic buildings to stately homes with a fascinating past, Salem, Oregon is steeped in history. In this post, we are sharing some local destinations that are not only historically significant, but they’re also downright interesting! Many of these attractions are located within easy walking distance of the Salem Convention Center. Whether you are here for a meeting, convention or social event, we hope you will find some time in your busy schedule to take a break and explore these refreshingly unique destinations that make this city “the most Oregon part of Oregon”.

1. Bush House Museum

Bush House

Bush House Museum- Photographer: Cheryl Gillson (Travel Salem)

An elegant 1878 Italianate mansion built by pioneer businessman Asahel Bush II is set in a 100-acre park, step inside and step back in time with a guided tour of the museum’s exhibits of textiles, photos and historic artifacts. SalemArt.org

2. Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health

Bush House Museum Bush House Museum 2, Photographer: Cheryl Gillson (Travel Salem)

Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health, Courtesy: Oregon State Hospital Museum

Explore the history of mental illness and its treatments through the collections of Oregon’s historic State Hospital, formerly known as the Oregon Insane Asylum. oshmuseum.org

3. Deepwood Museum and Gardens

Deepwood Museum and Gardens in Salem, Oregon, Photographer: Kara Kuh (Travel Salem employee)

Deepwood Museum and Gardens in Salem, Oregon, Photographer: Kara Kuh (Travel Salem)

Designed by noted Northwest architect W.C. Knighton and built during the 1890s by Dr. Luke Port, is a gabled Queen Anne with enchanting gardens designed by the Northwest’s first female landscape architecture firm, Lord & Schryver. historicdeepwoodestate.org

4. Salem Pioneer Cemetery

Founded in 1854, this is the burial place of Oregon government leaders and others making up Salem’s diverse, vibrant society in its early days. salempioneercemetery.org

5. Eco Earth

Eco-Earth Globe at Salem's Riverfront Park, Photographer: Taylor Higgins (Purchased by WVVA)

Eco-Earth Globe at Salem’s Riverfront Park, Photographer: Taylor Higgins

Ok, it’s not on any historical registers, but give it time! This huge globe created out of tile icons made by local artists and students reflecting the world’s diversity on land and water is not to be missed. In fact, when you head to Salem’s Riverfront Park (just steps away from the Salem Convention Center), you can’t miss it! cityofsalem.net

6. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House

Frank Lloyd Wright Gordon House, Photographer: Taylor Higgins (Purchased by WVVA)

Gordon House Taylor Higgins

If time permits, a short drive east of Salem will take you to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House. Named for the family that originally commissioned the ‘Usonian’-style home in 1957, it’s the only example of Wright’s work in Oregon, and the only Wright work in the Pacific Northwest that is open to the public. thegordonhouse.org

7. Willamette Heritage Center

Willamette Heritage Center Cyndi Easterly

The 1889 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill is the best-preserved Victorian-era factory in the American West, with period equipment and detailed exhibits, including a woolen dye shop, machine shop and original water turbine. The grounds also boast four pioneer-era buildings; three relate to the early Methodist Mission established in Salem by Jason Lee. All feature period furnishings and exhibits exploring the lives of early settlers. WillametteHeritage.org

8. Oregon State Capitol

Oregon State Capitol Photo @Cyndi Easterly

Oregon State Capitol, Photographer: Cyndi Easterly

A trip to Salem wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Oregon State Capitol. During the summer months, take a tower tour to the observation deck at the base of the dome’s crowning Golden Pioneer statue. Or enjoy a self-guided tour of the state art collection, which was recently reinstalled within the capitol and features more than 150 of Oregon’s well-regarded artists. www.oregonlegislature.gov/capitolhistorygateway

9. Hallie Ford Museum of Art

Arguably one of the best kept secrets in town, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (located on the Willamette University campus, the first university in the west) boasts an impressive collection of works by Pacific Northwest and Native American artists, as well as a diverse collection of traditional European, American and Asian art; plus artifacts that date from antiquity. willamette.edu

These are only a few of the fascinating destinations to explore while visiting Salem, Oregon. Do you have any others to add? Let us know in the comments. See more at www.travelsalem.com.

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