In the past I've disparaged Salem as a city. I am here to apologize for the things I've said. Salem isn't half bad, once you get to know it. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some time in the state capitol this month for a conference. While I was there I decided to take in some of the heritage sites and really give Salem a chance this time around.
Bush House is a large estate located near downtown. It includes the historic house, greenhouse, and gardens. The house was built by Asahel Bush for his family following the death of his wife Eugenia. It is a beautiful example of early Victorian living, fitted with the latest innovations and luxuries. Gas lighting, central heating, and warm running water are just a few niceties enjoyed by this family. My favorite elements of this house are the wide varieties of textures and materials used to furnish each room. Rarely do you see a room that repeats a wallpaper, carpet, or paint color.
Another historic house near Bush House is Deepwood, a Queen Anne Victorian home. This home features gorgeous stained glass, architectural elements, and a beautiful garden. Of particular note is the semi-circular wall in the dining room. Everything, including window glass and door fittings, is curved to match the exact shape of the wall. I found myself falling in love with all the delicate detailing in this house, it is truly a work of art.
Willamette Heritage Center
Lastly, I made my way over to the Willamette Heritage Center. Located at what was once the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, the Center is also home to a few historic homes and a collection of boutique shops. The Mill itself reminded me greatly of a Mill town I visited in Scotland, New Lanark. The massive spinning machines, looms, and creaking wooden floors are magnificently preserved. It gave me a sense of the truly worldwide change brought about during the Industrial Revolution.
I had no idea Salem had so much to offer. It just goes to show that you shouldn't write off a city until you've spent a few days exploring. There are hidden gems you might miss from the highway. Take some time and go visit a place you've never been before. Who knows, you might find something great.
All this being said, there was one alarming thing I learned in Salem. Apparently, there are killer owls on the loose. Beware.