The City of Salem is updating its Comprehensive Plan, as required by statute, and one component is the review of its Historic Preservation Program which was last updated in 2010. You and I, as residents and/or those invested in preserving and sharing our rich historic heritage, are being asked to comment--what we like, what we'd like to change, how components of the process work well, and what we think could improve other pieces, etc. NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO COMMENT. Click here to learn more and participate in this important survey.
~~Posted by Deb Meaghers
August 15 & 22, 2019 Episodes
We often hear of "founding fathers," but isn't it realistically more correct to refer to our predecessors as "founding families," since it takes an entire family to create a lasting impression on a community? Such is the case of the Holly Jackson family whose three-plus generations continue to be an integral part of the life of our town. Ralph Jackson, Holly's youngest son, joined us today to share his family's story of living and working here in Salem.
Holly Jackson was born in Minnesota in 1903 into a family that would soon leave to establish a homestead and farm wheat in Saskatchewan, Canada. They later moved to California, and Holly came to Salem in 1930 when he accepted the position of watchmaker for Pomeroy & Keene Jewelers at 379-383 State Street, a position he would hold for 13 years. His watchmaker station is still situated in the left-hand corner of that building, now the home of the Ma Valise retail store. This building began its life as a boarding house in 1860 and was remodeled into the jewelry and optical store, a frequently found combination, in 1923.
Holly met his future wife, Ellen Anne Hastorf of Portland, when she accompanied her mother to the Pomeroy & Keene store to have a watch repaired; they were married in 1939. Holly served two years in the Navy as an instrument repairman during World War II. Upon returning home to Salem after discharge, he and Ellen opened a small shop on the 9th floor of the Livesley Building (Capitol Tower), across State Street from Pomeroy-Keene. A short time later, in June 1944, Holly and Ellen secured a lease on a storefront which had been a florist shop in the northern portion of the Steusloff Building at 225 Liberty Street NE.
This 1902 concrete building originally housed the Steusloff Brothers Butchers & Packing Company, and the lower level was configured with cages for live poultry, a sausage-making kitchen, and storage. The Steusloff Brothers moved their business into this new building from their original site at 284 Commercial Street. At the time of the Jackson's lease, and for many more years, the building's owner, the Schlesinger family, lived in an apartment on the upper floor. It is interesting to note that prior to the Steusloff Building being constructed on this lot in 1902, it was the 1889 site of Sung Lung's Chinese Washing & Ironing House.
Even though they owned and operated a city business, Holly & Ellen Jackson and their three boys, Philip, Clark and Ralph, lived a country lifestyle on 20 acres at the southern end of Salem where they grew and harvested their own hay to sustain their many horses. They were instrumental in forming the Salem Saddle Club. Ellen's family background includes a long association with the St Paul Rodeo, and Ellen and Holly became life members and were the official event timers for 13 years.
Since Holly was a member of the Oregon Mounted Posse & Governor's Guard for many years, the family enjoyed many horse-centered camping trips. The Posse also participated in many parades and celebrations. Once the store closed on Saturdays, the family could be often found camping at Detroit Lake or skiing up at HooDoo. Bill was a member of the "Blue Angels (along with Bill Johnston and Mike Parker), an unofficial racing team who turned their baseball hats backwards and sped down the hill, run after run. Ralph boasted that he has skied every year since the age of 4 (also when he learned to ride horses) and, even with two artificial hips, continues to do so every year.
By 1970, sons Phil and Ralph joined the family business. Both attended the Gemological Institute of America, as well as taking additional college classes in business, and became certified gemologists. When Holly passed away in 1994, the "boys" had a firm handle on running the business.
Phil and Ralph purchased the building outright in 2001. Ralph's sons Tyler and Brett would follow the family footsteps through those doors within the decade, carrying on the tradition of expertise, and integrity into a third generation. The 1902 building underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2007, ensuring it will continue its useful life for many more years to come.
As we have interviewed longtime area families in our Yesterday's Voices series, a common thread we've found is their conscious choices to build a strong family foundation in their home community, to build an integral business that cares about its customers and supports its neighboring businesses, and to build a reputation of quality and integrity that will live on through future generations. We hope that many future generations will continue to encounter area businesses based on these concepts, so well demonstrated by the Jackson family.
Deb Meaghers and Christy Van Heukelem, historians and authors, are passionate about the history of Salem and the entire mid-Willamette Valley. We love sharing our enthusiasm for our rich historic legacy with others.