| || |
May 17, 2018.
The City of Salem, through its Historic Landmarks Commission, bestows two awards annually to recognize exemplary efforts in the field of local historic preservation. The Virginia P. Green award, is named in honor of a former history teacher who retired to Salem and fell in love with Salem's rich history and still tirelessly shares that love throughout her new hometown. The Benjamin I. Maxwell Award, named for a longtime Salem Capital Journal newspaper photographer-reporter who documented Salem's life and character over many years, recognizes outstanding contributions to the preservation of Salem’s historic resources.
The recipient of the 2018 Virginia P. Green Award was none other than Salem History Matter's own Deb Meaghers. In bestowing this award, the HLC remarked that "Deb is passionate about history, which is reflected in her life’s work! Deb worked for the City of Salem for many years,
staffing the Historic Landmarks Commission from it infancy. After retirement, her work with the KMUZ radio show, “Salem History Matters”, and her Program Blog have built a bridge between our rich historic legacy and our contemp-orary lives. Deb has co-authored several local history books, including one about West Salem. Salem is very lucky to have Deb within our community. Her work ensures that both residents of Salem and visitors to Oregon’s capital city have an opportunity to connect with our history for many years to come."
The recipient of the Benjamin I. Maxwell Award was Dr. Rick Neahring. The HLC recognized Dr. Nearing "for the nomination and rehabilitation of the Ed
and Marie Viesko House. The Viesko House, constructed in 1924, was nominated in 2016 and is a significant
example of a typical Salem English Cottage. This house is also significant for its association with Ed Viesko. Viesko was a Salem builder who constructed many of Salem’s buildings, including the Meier & Frank Building, the Marion County Courthouse, and Smith Auditorium at
Willamette University. Without property owners like Dr. Neahring, working individually to ensure their homes and their history are recognized and preserved, our Salem Historic Preservation program would not be possible."
Those of you familiar with our radio program and our Blog, will recognize Rick Neahring from the three episodes we produced chronicling, first, his plans for rehabilitating this local treasure, then through the process to nominate the house as a Local Resource, and ultimately through the process undertaken to pursue a National Register nomination. You may also recall that our co-host, Christy Van Heukelem was actively working with Rick throughout this process, researching Ed Viesko, his family and business, and the many contributions he made in the Salem community, and then documenting that research in the various formats required for the nomination process.
Although successful in achieving Local Resource status, Rick and Christy were not able to fully satisfy the arduously stringent requirements for National Register nomination. However, they were both extremely successful in documenting the many facets of Viesko's rich legacy in our hometown, and highlighting those impacts on the community character that we now enjoy. Well worth the effort--and well done!
Awards are soon forgotten; after all, a new one is announced every year. But the work to preserve our rich historic legacy is never forgotten, never without its own rewards. It is the responsibility of one generation to remind and regale the next of their shared history. A bright, promising future can only be ensured by building upon a well-respected and well-grounded past.
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.