Governor’s House, the Capitol, Mission Mill Museum

March 20, 2009

After our usual coffee and goodies break at the Santiam Rest Area, we went on to the State Capitol building in mild Spring weather, with only a few raindrops.

Our guide welcomed us in the rotunda lobby with an informative and interesting brief talk. He escorted us to both the Senate and House Chambers with the House in session. From the visitors gallery, we had a foggy perspective of those proceedings, but hopefully it made sense to our Representatives.

We had lots of time to inspect the grounds and to view the geologic displays and the rest of the interior. We learned from Janet Jacobsen that our State flag is unique in that the reverse also has an emblem—it is a BEAVER, (sorry Duck fans).

This modern appearing building was dedicated in 1938; the previous building and many priceless records were destroyed in the tragic fire in 1935. Lenore McManigal recalled her visit to the old Capitol as a very young child.

We lunched in the basement cafeteria and then went to the nearby Mission Mill Village, where we divided into two groups. Our guide, Robert, led Group A through three historic houses—the Boon House 1847, the Jason Lee 1841, and the Mission Parsonage. Meanwhile, our Group B traveled to the Salem South Hills to Mahonia Hall (the scientific name of the State Flower—the Oregon Grape), which is the residence of our sitting governor.

About an hour later, we shuttled the bus and the two groups reversed. At Mahonia, security was tight. An advance roster of Obsidians and the D.O.B. was checked off by a State Police Officer at the admission area. A copy of these birth dates would be interesting reading for the Obsidian News Letter—but it is top secret!

We were greeted by volunteers from AAUW who had us put booties over our shoes. We were seated in the drawing room on the several sofas. Everything was nicely decorated in good taste. The Oregon Grape motif was featured in scroll work and on the fireplace screen and in paintings. The view and grounds are awesome. This mansion was constructed in the mid-twenties by the Livesley family at about the cost of $90,000. About 1985, Otto Frohnmeyer, father of the U. of O. President, headed a campaign to obtain private funds for the purchase. The wheelchair ramps were installed during the tenure of Barbara Roberts.

Meanwhile, Goup B was back at Mission Mill touring the old milling facility. Holly Miles, in period costume in the roll of Fanny, the daughter of founder Thomas Kay, was a memorable docent.

Finally, our last stop was the historic Elsinore Theater, dating from 1924 in the ornate style of that era. As the name implies, Elsinore Castle brings to mind Hamlet, then Shakespeare, which is the connection for two large wall paintings. One wall has the Three Witches, and the opposite has Romeo and Juliet. The Gothic Arch is seen throughout the interior.

Manager Rick Parks greeted us in the lobby and described the restoration project. The cost was quite reasonable and is a great success story in the revitalization of downtown Salem. The Theater is very popular and heavily used.

Mr. Parks is also a master musician and he entertained us by playing the Wurlitzer organ for over 30 minutes. On this versatile instrument, he played numbers from Star Wars, Phantom of the Opera, the Sound of Music, swing music such as String of Peals and much more. It was a delightful experience.

Limitations on the size of groups and compliance with security precautions at governmental facilities required extra preparation and tight planning. Mary Ellen handled all these complex challenges perfectly and received our appreciation and applause for leading another excellent trip.

What a nice way to celebrate our first day of Spring. Driver Martin Neff returned 25 Obsidians and 8 guests to Shopko at about 5:30 p.m.

Riders were members: Ethel Allen, Alice Anderson, Louise Behnke, MaryLee Cheadle, Barbara Chinn, Sharon Cutsworth, RoseMarie Etter, Barbara Flanders, Dennis Flanders, Marc Hanson, Dora Harris, Janet Jacobsen, John Jacobsen, Ray Jensen, John McManigal, Lenore McManigal, Natalie Newlove, Barbara Payne, Don Payne, Julie Snell, Bobbye Sorrels, Dick Speelman, Janet Speelman, Viola Stults and Mary Ellen West, leader; and guests: Tina Behnke, Toshi Choden, Arleen Field, Sharon Gadomski, Clara Jones, Susan Reinoehl, Carole Sherbina and Barbara Wilson.

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