July 6, 2017 Episode.
Many of us have taken our children and/or grandchildren to the children's museum at A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, a complex of historic resources on the north end of Riverfront Park developed by local residents in 1989 as a place of education and active exploration for area children. We were joined today by Alicia Bay, executive director of the museum, now known as A.C. Gilbert Children's Museum. Alicia provided a brief history of how the museum came to be as a large community build project.
The City of Salem owns the site and has moved several historic resources to the riverfront campus. The A.T. Gilbert (A.C.'s uncle) house is in its original location. The Rockenfeld-Bean house, originally at the NE corner of Court and Summer Streets, was relocated to 755 Capitol Street in 1937, and then moved here in 1991 as part of the North Capitol Mall expansion. The Parrish house of 745 Capitol NE came to the riverfront c1980 to make way for the State Archives Building. The Little Gem Grocery came over from the Court-Chemeketa National HIstoric District. The foundation of the Wilson-Durbin house (Salem's oldest house) was uncovered here and the existing house is a replication built on that foundation.
ilbert turned his creative energy toward magic and opened his first business in 1909, Mysto-Manufacturing, with friend John Petrie in New Haven, Connecticut. While watching steel girders being raised to hold new power lines in 1911, he conceived the Erector Set. He personally marketed the invention at the Toy Fair of 1913. He renamed his company A.C. Gilbert Company and won the Gold Medal at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition. Over the next 20 years, more than 30 million sets were sold, both to boys and to architects and engineers who used it to build scale models. Following his philosophy that play should be educational, he developed a chemistry set in 1917, and later purchased the American Flyer Train and redesigned the cars to be more realistic. By the late 1950s, Gilbert held 150 patents for various mechanical toys as well as industrial machines.
Today, A.C. Gilbert Children's Museum continues to carry on the philosophy of its namesake. Their mission to “inspire children [and adults] to learn through creative play” exemplifies Gilbert's legacy. They accomplish this through 15 fun and challenging hands-on exhibits, Outdoor Discovery Area, camps, birthday parties, field trips, and educational programs for children--and adults--in the sciences, arts, and humanities. They are continually developing and renewing exhibits so that every visit can be a new opportunity for discovery and fun. We encourage you to visit this local gem--and even to take your kids, grandkids, and neighborhood kids. You're sure to learn something new and wonderful! For more information on the museum, visit their website: acgilbert.org.
Posted by Deb Meaghers