Salem Historical Quarterly
Old West Salem
The area of the city located west of the Willamette River



Harritt House
The first community in the West Salem area began as the town of Cincinnati in 1848, but by 1855 it was officially renamed as Eola. It became a shipping port, its social and political life so important that it made a bid, along with Salem and Corvallis, to be the state capital site. The flood of 1890 almost destroyed the town. West Salem itself was platted the year before, but had been a community for some years before with Fairview School in 1863 and the first Center Street Bridge in 1886. It incorporated in 1914, the year after the railroad bridge was constructed. It merged with Salem in 1949.

As research continues, more information will be added to a chronological list of historic sites including:

Phillips House, Spring Valley Road, 1853

Eola School, 2nd and Mill Streets, 1853 (1858,1937)
This first school built in Eola had a distinguished first teacher, Abagail Scott (Duniway) who became a nationally known advocate of women's suffrage. The school was rebuilt in 1858 after being destroyed by fire. The present structure was built in 1937 with Works Projects Administration funds.

Harritt House, 2280 Wallace Road, 1858
The oldest house in Salem still on its original foundation has been extensively remodeled. The original log cabin was built in 1845 by pioneers Jessie and Julia Harritt who came to Oregon from Kentucky. Jessie, a Mennonite (United Brethren) preacher and farmer, left Oregon for California in 1848 with his friend James Marshall and so profitted by their gold discoveries that Jessie was able to return to Salem and build Julia a house resembling the plantation homes she had admired. Two of their sons, Johh and Bryan Harritt, were among the group of students who gave the name Brush College to their school. The home stayed in the Harritt family until 1912. The old kitchen, originally an out-building, has been added to main house. The present structure contains Julia's Tea Parlor and a flower shop.

Brunk House, 5705 Salem-Dallas Highway, 1861
In 1856 Harrison Brunk purchased the Hugh Mcnary donation land claim. In 1860 he built this Classical Revival for $844 in gold for his family of 11 children. Thomas Earl Brunk, born here in 1893, left the house in trust to Polk County.

Oak Grove Methodist Church, 1878

Robert S. Wallace Family Summer House, 2900 Oakcrest Dr., 1889 (1923, 1960s) It is now the cummunity center building for Salemtowne.

Purvine House, 6990 Spring Valley Road, 1890

Singer House 2325 Michigan City Lane, 1890

St. Pierre House, 2425 Eola Drive, 1911

Pelker House, 3500 Wallace Road, 1914

Walling House, 6030 Wallace Road, 1915

Holman State Park, deeded to state in 1922
Historically, the old territorial road of the 1850's passed through this wayside enroute to Dallas and points south. A spring on the property was used as a watering hole for people and their livestock. The wayside is covered with a stand of fir trees overlooking the Willamette River.

Old City Hall, 1935-6.
West Salem was incorporated in 1914, shortly after the railroad bridge linked this community west of the Willamette with other Oregon communities. The City Hall served the community until 1949 when West Salem became a part of the city of Salem. Chemeketa Community College held its first classes there.




This information has been supplied by Marvin Sammes and the Polk County Historical Society, PO Box 67, Monmouth, Oregon. Contact the Society by calling 503 623 6251.

When You Are Here:
Contact the Polk County Historical Society for further research, information about attending an Open House, or visiting any site.

To Learn More:
The Society maintains the Polk County Museum, open every day except Sunday and Tuesday, 1-5 p.m.

To reach the museum from Salem, cross the Marion Street Bridge and continue on Highway 22 for about 9 miles until you reach the intersection with Highway 99. Turn left (south) on 99 toward Rickreal. The museum is less than a mile, to your left, on the corner of the Polk County Fairgrounds.