There are five historic structures on this site. The Gilbert house was the home of A. C. Gilbert's uncle. The Wilson-Durbin house is a 2000 reconstruction. Both are on their original locations. The Parrish and Rockenfield-Bean homes were moved here because of the development of the North Capitol Mall.
The Little Gem Store was formerly located at 17th and Chemeketa Street on the corner of a 1906 residential property. Built in the 1920s, it served as a small neighborhood grocery for many years and finally became an artist's studio. In 1998, when the property owner wished to extend his front porch, a neighbor, Gary Westford, allowed the neighbors to move it to his property as a temporary measure. Hazal and Roy Patton were among those who repainted and restored the building so it could be moved to its present location.
This 15 year old educational complex features the A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, a children’s museum and learning center. There is fee for entrance.
The facility was named for Alfred Carlton Gilbert, Olympic gold medalist in pole vault, inventor of the Erector Set, holder of 150 patents and marketer of the American Flying Train. The children's museum was the first attraction of the Riverfront Park, opening in 1989.
There is a parking lot on Union Street, to your left just after you turn off Front Street. Limited parking is available in front of the Gilbert House. Another large parking lot is located beyond the houses at the Riverfront Park.
When You Are Here:
Two historical buildings, The Gilbert and Rockenfield-Bean houses are within the gates of the A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. The other three, including the Little Gem, are on Water Street along the riverfront. Descriptive plaques at doorways give information about the structures.
To Learn More:
salemhistory.net has a profile of A.C. Gilbert. (Scroll down to the date of 1989 in the list of profiles.)
In Volume 43, Number 3, Historic Marion, available at Marion County Historical Society, read about the development of North Capitol Mall and the removal of Piety Hill homes in “Children of Piety Hill.”