July 29 2016 – Oregon State Capitol and Oregon State Hospital

While Oregon’s state capitol building is one of five art deco designed capitols (Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota … the last three we have visited) it is unique in its combination of Egyptian and modern Greek design.

Oregon State Capitol (a), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

The building is the state’s third

First Oregon State Capitol (1854-1865), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29The First Territorial Capitol, in Greek-Revival style was nearly completed in late 1855 when, on the evening of December 29, 1855, a fire destroyed the first capitol building and many of the territory's public records. Arson was suspected but no one was ever arrested.  The site of the burned-out capitol building remained a pile of stones for several years after the fire. A downtown building, Nesmith's Building served as a temporary capitol from 1859 until 1876.

Second Oregon State Capitol (1854-1865), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29The second capitol, built between 1873 and 1876, was a two-story structure with an additional first level that was partly underground.  The government began using the building in August 1876, before the dome was built.  On April 25, 1935 at 6:43 pm, a custodial engineer called the Salem Fire Department to report smoke. Citizens helped to remove items from the smoky building, but when firefighters arrived, they ordered everyone to leave the structure, which was soon engulfed in flame. Among the helping citizens was twelve-year-old Mark Hatfield, who later became governor.  A strong updraft in the hollow columns enclosing the dome's eight supporting steel lattice girders pulled the flames through the rotunda to upper stories and the intense heat burned even the copper dome.

and was completed in 1938 making it the fourth newest capitol in the United States.

The new capitol was 164 feet  wide, 400 feet long, 166 feet in height, and contained 131,750 square feet of usable space.  The exterior was finished with Vermont Marble. The lobby, rotunda, and halls were lined with a polished rose travertine stone quarried in Montana.   The rotunda's staircases and floor used Phoenix Napoleon marble quarried in Missouri and have borders of Radio Black marble that, like the exterior stone, is from Vermont.

Oregon State Capitol (b), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

An early complaint about the structure was that the copula resembled a "paint can" rather than traditional domes on other capitols, including the earlier Oregon structures.   It was even called a "squirrel cage", lacking in majesty. Additionally, the public was slow to admire the gold “Oregon Pioneer” atop the dome.

Oregon State Capitol (Oregon Pioneer atop Rotunda - a), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Oregon State Capitol (Oregon Pioneer atop Rotunda - c), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

In April 2002, the building became the first state capitol in the United States to produce solar power through the use of 60 photovoltaic panels generating 7.8 kilowatts.  One-third of the power is used to light the Oregon Pioneer at night; the remaining electricity is sent into the power grid.

Two huge reliefs border the stairs to the front of the Capitol.

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Lewis & Clark Led by Sacagawea Relief), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Lewis and Clark being guided by Sacagawea

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Covered Wagon Relief), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29A family headed for Oregon with their covered wagon

The entrance doors

Oregon State Capitol (Entrance Doors), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29behind which, like in all other smaller states, there is no airport-like security to go through .  Rather, we can just walk in, unhassled!


An interesting note about Oregon’s state flag …

Oregon State Capitol (Front of Oregon State Flag), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

It is the only state flag which has a different back side.

Oregon State Capitol (Back of Oregon State Flag), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

In the center of the Rotunda floor is the Oregon state seal, cast in bronze.

Oregon State Capitol (State Seal in Rotunda Floor), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Looking up a dome rises 106’

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Dome), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29where thirty-three stars  represent the fact Oregon was the 33rd state to join the Union.

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Dome Center), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

 Four large murals grace the Rotunda,

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Mural - Captain Robert Gray Arriving at the Columbia River in 1792), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Captain Robert Gray cross the bar at the mouth of a River he later named the Columbia after his ship in 1792

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Mural - Lewis & Clark Arriving aat Celilo Falls 1805), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Mural - Dr. John McLaughlin Welcomes First White Women in 1836), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Dr. John McLaughin welcoming the first white women to reach the Oregon Territory in 1836

Oregon State Capitol (Rotunda Mural - First Wagon Train Arriving in 1843), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29The arrival of the first wagon train to reach Oregon in 1843

Two murals line the staircases leading to the Senate Chambers

Oregon State Capitol (Senate Hallway Mural - b), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29 Oregon State Capitol (Senate Hallway Mural - a), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29 

While two others line the approach to the House Chambers.

Oregon State Capitol (House Hallway Mural - a), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Oregon State Capitol (House Hallway Mural - b), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Over the entrances to both Chambers is the seal of the Oregon Territory before its statehood.

Oregon State Capitol (Territorial Seal), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

The Governor’s Ceremonial Office

Oregon State Capitol (Governor's Ceremonial Office - a), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Oregon State Capitol (Governor's Ceremonial Office - b), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Oregon State Capitol (OR Flag & Bits of Moon Rock from Apollo-11 in Governor's Outer Ceremonial Office), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

A flag which traveled to the moon on Apollo-11 and four very small specimens of Moon Rock, presented to the State by President Nixon

The Senate Chamber

Oregon State Capitol (Senate Chamber), Salem, OR - 2016-07-2930 Members (part-time legislators) – Voice votes – Mandatory attendance

Oregon State Capitol (Senate Chamber Mural), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Mural behind the Senate President depicting the March 17th 1859 announcement Oregon had become a State on February 14th 1859 … it took that long for the approval to be wired to St. Louis from Washington, DC, sent by Pony Express toe San Francisco, forwarded by boat to Portland and then carried overland toe Salem.

Oregon State Capitol (Senate Chamber Carpet), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29The Senate Carpet represents fishing and wheat … two of the state’s major injuries

The House Chamber

Oregon State Capitol (House Chamber), Salem, OR - 2016-07-2960 Members (Part time) – Mandatory attendance

Oregon State Capitol (House Chamber Mural), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Mural behind the Speaker’s chair depicting citizens voting to apply for statehood.  After several tie votes, the lumberjack in the red shirt “coerced” two of the antis to vote for statehood.

Oregon State Capitol (House Chamber Carpet), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29The carpet depicts forest products, another major Oregonian industry

Some other interesting items:

Oregon State Capitol (Door Knobs with State Seal), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Door knobs have the state seal

Oregon State Capitol (Piano in Senate Chamber), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29There are pianos in both the House and Senate Chambers as each session begins with a musical performance

Oregon State Capitol (One of Six Surviving Desks from Old Capitol), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Desks in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office, Senate Chamber and House Chamber are three of the only six desks surviving from the fire which destroyed the former capitol


We were able to climb the 121 steps to the outside observation level just below the golf Oregon Pioneer where we had an unsurpassed view of the city and even had a hazy view of Mt. Hood, some 78 miles to the east.

Mt. Hood (78 miles to teh East) from Atop the Oregon State Capitol, Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

and the spire on the Salem United Methodist Church, ay 185', the only building in Salem taller than the capitol.

Salem First United Methodist Church Steeple, Salem, OR - 2106-07-29

Around the Capitol Grounds

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Dr. John McLaughlin Statue), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Dr. John McLoughlin (October 19, 1784 – September 3, 1857) was a Chief Factor and Superintendent of the Columbia District of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Vancouver from 1824 to 1845. He was later known as the "Father of Oregon" for his role in assisting the American cause in the Oregon Country. In the late 1840s his general store in Oregon City was famous as the last stop on the Oregon Trail.  He was the first person to govern the Oregon Territory from 1824-1842.

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Rev. Jason Lee Statue), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Jason Lee (June 28, 1803 – March 12, 1845), a  Canadian missionary and pioneer to United States, and was the first of the Oregon missionaries and instrumental in the American settlement in the Oregon Territory.

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (World Wat II Memorial - a), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29World War II Memorial

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Medal of Honor Memorial), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Oregon Medal of Honor Memorial

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Replica of the LIberty Bell), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Replica of the Liberty Bell

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Capitol Beaver Family), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Capitol Beaver Family

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Robert Booth ''The Circuit Rider'' Statue), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Robert Booth – The Circuit Rider

The Circuit Rider depicts "one of Oregon's pioneer Circuit-riding Methodist ministers" and commemorates "the labors and achievements of the ministers of the Gospel, who as circuit riders became the friends, counselors and evengels to the pioneers on every American frontier.

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Sprague Fountain and State Capitol), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29Sprague Fountain

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Gabezo), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29A Gazebo constructed by the inmates and staff of the Oregon Correctional Institution

Oregon State Capitol Grounds (Corinthiam Columns from Old State Capitol), Salem, OR - 2106-07-29These Corinthian column segments originally were part of those that graced the west and east entrance porticos of Oregon’s first state house.  The bricks used for the inner core construction or these columns and for the building were made by convicts at the Oregon State Penitentiary.  Limestone fluted veneer facings came from Douglas County quarries

Unfortunately, like all too many cities, Salem is not immune to homelessness.

Homeless Man, Oregon State Capitol Gournds, Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

The Oregon State Hospital

Oregon State Hospital, Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

Oregon State Hospital (Coupla and Steeple), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

was established in 1883 as the Oregon State Insane Asylum, is the primary state-run psychiatric hospital in the state of Oregon since 1995. The 620-bed facility is best known as the filming location for the Academy Award winning film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.   The aging facility has been criticized as providing substandard mental health care.

The hospital’s museum’s many exhibits were both extremely educational and disturbing.

Oregon State Hospital (Inmate-Painted Bench), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Bench outside the entrance painted by patient

Oregon State Hospital (Administrator's Desk), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29State-of-the-art office at the turn of the centrry (1900)

Oregon State Hospital (Straight Jacket), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Straight Jacket

Oregon State Hospital (Hand Cuffs and Restraint Belts), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Handcuffs and Belt Restraints

Oregon State Hospital (Lobotomy Surgical Table), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Lobotomy operating table (130 were performed at the facility)

Oregon State Hospital (Sewing and Basketry Equipment), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Sewing and basketry equipment used by female inmates/patients

Oregon State Hospital (Carpentry Jig Saw), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Woodworking carpentry equipment used by male inmates/patients

Oregon State Hospital (Letter), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29One of the lighter patient stories … many others were very troubling

Oregon State Hospital (Patient Room), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Typical patient room

Oregon State Hospital (Barred Windows), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Oregon State Hospital (Patient Room), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29Windows whose bars are disguised and wooden separators between windowpanes.

During an investigative report by the Oregonian, which won the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize, it was discovered that the unclaimed remains of more than 4,000 patients who died at the hospital were stored in copper urns in a hospital basement until 1976.  They were then placed in vaults around what had been a fish pond.  It was called the Memorial Circle.  A headstone was placed there in 1984 to honor all who had died at the hospital.

They were moved due to water damage, which is blamed for the verdigris patina and corrosion found on them in 2004.

Oregon State Hospital Decayed Copper Canister with Cremated Remains of Deceseed Unclaimed Patients), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

A website with a list of all the unclaimed remains, and posted it online with what information is known. There are birth dates, death dates, names and possible spellings differences for names. The list includes state hospital patients as well as workers and members of the community who might have been cremated at the state hospital between 1914 and the early 1970s.  Close to 1,000 sets of remains were claimed.

Working with Fisher Funeral Home in Albany, the remaining remains have been double-checked six times before being transferred to new ceramic vessels that will be added to the columbarium wall.

Oregon State Hospital (Cremated Remains Memorial), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

As additional remains continue to be claimed, the ceramic vessels are removed, as can be seen by the empty holes in the wall.

Oregon State Hospital (Still Unclaimed Cremated Remains), Salem, OR - 2016-07-29

However, the original copper urns have been preserved in a building adjacent to the memorial.

Copper Urns

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