Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, 1911

From "The Report" -- December 27, 1911:

These are busy times with Sally. If you talk to her you are apt to get no reply. She is ever wrapped up in tying up packages. There are piles of boxes in the kitchen, the dining room and the parlor, not to mention the greater lot upstairs on the beds. Each day the expressman presents a long list of charges due. The boys are instructed to pay what he claims without question, for the evidence is good that the bills are due. Sally quite savagely said if anyone sends her a gift in return she will cut them off her list.

So next year, instead of decorating the Museum with poinsettias and fresh greens, perhaps we should consider piling boxes all over the place in memory of Miss Sally's "potlatches." Hmmm. Good thing we have almost a year to think about it.

In the meantime, the staff of the Bush House Museum wish you a peaceful and happy holiday season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Collections Spotlight: The Cogswell Portrait

Today's entry is written by Museum Assistant
Pablo Morales Henry.

I would like to present one of my favorite items in the house, Mr. Bush’s portrait in the library. The first impression upon viewing the portrait is that Mr. Bush was an impressive man both in stature and Oregon history. The portrait reminded me of one of the typical presidential portraits from the 19th century.

The portrait that I am referring to was painted by William F. Cogswell, who was born in Sandusky, NY in 1819 and died in Pasadena, CA in 1903. The portrait was painted in 1880. Cogswell was not just an ordinary artist, and there are several reasons why his work is so unique. First of all, he taught himself portrait painting in the 1830s while he was working at a color factory and from there he made a career. Another reason is the fact that some of his most famous works are portraits of U.S. presidents. Perhaps his most famous work is a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, which was painted 1864 (this portrait is displayed at the White House). Cogswell also painted a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 (this portrait is displayed at the U.S. Senate). Cogswell painted this portrait the year before Grant started his first term in office. Later, he also painted President Grant and his family (this piece is displayed at the Smithsonian). Afterwards, Cogswell painted a portrait of President McKinley and the portraits of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, just to name a few of the people that commissioned work from him.

After quite a few years of success on the east coast, in 1873, Cogswell moved to California. He had previously lived in California during the gold rush, which was an event that motivated some interesting works in his early career. Cogswell bought a property in what is today east Pasadena, and built a beautiful Victorian house. He lived there for many years, during which time he travelled and continued painting. He primarily painted political figures from the State of California. It was during this time that Cogswell painted the portrait of Asahel Bush II that we have today at the museum.

If you have not had the opportunity to appreciate this magnificent painting from the 19th century, please join us at the museum for a tour and you will see an incredible piece that is comparable with the portraits of Presidents Lincoln and Grant.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Holiday Helpers

Many, many thanks to the helpers who came to put up holiday decorations this past week!

Gretchen and Denis always find the perfect, old-fashioned Christmas tree for the sitting room.

Nadine, Karen, Ross, and Bonnie helped trim the tree and decorate the mantels with fresh greens. (We also had help from Kathy and Jean, but they left before the pictures were taken!)

Gretchen came back with Barbara on Tuesday to decorate the library and dining room, and make swags for the exterior doors.

Come and admire their handiwork at our Holiday Open House this Sunday, December 13, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. In addition to the beautiful decorations we'll have holiday music, refreshments, and a visit from that jolly old elf, Santa Claus. Hope to see you here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coming Soon: Holidays!

It's December, and the holidays will be here soon -- even sooner than we think!

Next week, the Bush House Museum will be transformed into a holiday wonderland with fresh greens in every room, a Christmas tree with vintage decorations, and other traditional trimmings for an old-fashioned celebration.

Please join us on Sunday, December 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm for our annual Holiday Open House! In addition to the lovely decorations, there will be refreshments, holiday music, and an activity for the children. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be here for photographs and wishes. Make a day of it by planning to attend the Open House at Historic Deepwood Estate the same day.

If you can't make it to the Open House, you can read all about it in the December issue of Northwest Senior and Boomer News. This periodical is available for free at several locations around town.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The best, after all...

Here's how members of the Bush family spent Thanksgiving Day, 1911, in the words of A.N. Bush:
A heavy fog hung on all day. I planned to take advantage of the holiday and go to Portland with the bank plans and show Vogt the changes I want. (NB: A.N. Bush was working with Vogt, an architect, to renovate the interior of Ladd & Bush Bank). I tied them up yesterday so they would be ready. This morning I got up with the thought that I must see that the bank was all right and feed the cat before I leave, but not once did I think of the plans. On the train Durbin sat in front of Mrs. Bush and myself, and he began to talk library plans to Mrs. Bush. At the word “plans” I realized I did not have mine and there was no use to go to Portland. I got off at Hood street and walked back to the bank thoroughly disgusted with myself and the evidences of old age coming on me. I do not know but a keeper will have to take me in charge and think for me or something shocking may happen to me any time. I heard of an absent-minded professor who, while thinking of a lesson, at a reception shook hands with his worst enemy. Who knows but I may be walking down the street arm in arm with Hofer. I had fed the cat. I did not forget that.

I spent the whole day at the bank, not leaving there till seven. I had the whole day to myself and did many things I have been striving for days to do. The public will not let me work business days. I sit around hours for minutes I work, and if I get half a chance after the bank closes, Bingham is most sure to come over for a long visit. I felt pretty mean over myself till late in the afternoon, and as this something done was put away and then others, began to get in better spirits, and tonight I do not know but it was the best after all. For Thanksgiving dinner I had a cold handout on turkey at Sally’s.

Father and Sally had the Websters to dinner. Webster is here painting Father’s picture for Sally. (NB: The Webster portrait hangs in the main hall at the Bush House Museum).

I spent the evening at Father’s and going to meet Mrs. Bush on the eleven o’clock train.
Wishing our friends the best, after all. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twin Houses

Photograph courtesy of Discover-Neighborhood-History

Compare the house pictured above to the photograph of the Bush House Museum in the right sidebar. Although the photographs are taken from different angles, it's easy to see that these houses closely resemble each other.

The picture above shows the Adolph House, built for Samuel Adolph and his wife Mary. Samuel Adolph was born in Prussia about 1835 and came to Salem in 1867. He founded a brewery and later constructed a block of buildings on the south side of State Street, including a saloon.

In 1878, Adolph commissioned Wilbur Boothby, the architect of the Bush House, to build a suburban farmhouse on five acres of land near the State Penitentiary. The house still stands in its original location on the northwest corner of 25th and State Streets.

Did Adolph specifically request a house that echoed the newly-built Bush home? Or did Boothby simply specialize in the Italianate style he had seen in his youth on the east coast? Either way, the family resemblance is evident in the facade -- which is almost identical to the Bush House -- as well as in smaller exterior details such as the window moldings, the gabled roofline, and the carved panels along the eaves.

The similarities continue inside the house, though on a smaller scale. In particular, the staircase, though narrower and steeper than the one at the Bush House, nevertheless includes the same newel post and balusters, and the same carved detail on each riser. There's also a black and white photo of the house in its early years, with the penitentiary buildings visible across the fields.

Samuel Adolph died in 1893, but the house remained in the family until the 1970s as the home of Adolph's son-in-law, Isidore Greenbaum, and his family. Like the Bush House, the Adolph House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It now houses professional offices.

N.B.: Should you choose to admire the Bush House's twin in person, please respect the occupants' privacy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thank you, Sam Bush

"I thought you might appreciate having some writings of mine on family history and photos to go with them..."

So begins a letter received this past summer from Sam Bush, cousin of Jody (see below) and great-great-grandson of Asahel Bush II. Born in Portland in 1949, Sam was the younger son of Stuart Bush and his wife, Mary Patricia Livesley. After spending several years on the East Coast, Sam settled in Portland and worked as a woodworker, designer, and teacher. As the descendant of two important Salem families, Sam maintained an interest in family history along with albums and folders and boxes of historic photographs and documents. However, due to complications from a chronic illness, Sam had not visited the Bush House Museum in more than ten years.

About six weeks after writing that letter, on August 13, Sam passed away at the age of 60. A couple of months later came an unexpected gift for the Museum: the long-term loan of furniture, accessories, photographs, and papers that had been in Sam's keeping.

Details have yet to be finalized, but next year we expect to display the original suite of dining room furniture (table, chairs, and sideboard), a marble sculpture, and assorted pieces of china that have remained in the Bush family until now, and will be passed along to Sam's children in several years.

Equally exciting are the family photos, books, letters, and documents that fill some of the gaps in our knowledge of the Bush family, especially the years from 1880 to 1910: a journal of Lulu Hughes Bush's 1905 trip to Europe! A.N. Bush's scrapbook from his college years! College diplomas for several generations! Family correspondence! Home movies!

In the weeks to come, we'll be able to tell you more about these items and what we're learning from them. In the meantime: thank you, Sam.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sally's Table

Sally Bush was the second daughter of Asahel Bush II and his wife, Eugenia Zieber Bush. Born on October 29, 1860, she was not quite three years old when her mother died. Like all of the Bush daughters Sally attended the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She went on to graduate from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts before returning to Salem in 1883. "Miss Sally" lived with her father until his death in 1913, then continued as the mistress of the Bush House until she passed away in 1946.

Miss Sally was known around town for her generosity to those in need. By 1916 she had so many requests for assistance from so many people that her brother, A.N. Bush, decided to chronicle her experiences in a little pamphlet entitled "Sally's Charities, or Twenty-Five Days of Alms Giving." Here's one encounter:
Breakfast Menu.

At Sally's Hobo Table D'Hote.
Served on the east steps.

Fried bacon and eggs
Baked beans warmed over
Fried potatoes

Sally prepared the eggs herself. The meal was served on platters with plates and accessories and a young tramp consumed it with much apparent satisfaction.
Sally Bush took great pleasure in sharing with others, and it's in honor of her generous spirit that we announce the first Sally Bush Memorial Food Drive, in partnership with Marion-Polk Food Share.

On Thursday, October 29, Sally's birthday, admission to the Bush House Museum is FREE with a donation of canned food. The Museum and the Bush Barn Art Center will continue to accept food donations through Sunday, November 8.

Although fried bacon and eggs are out of the question, we encourage you to consider this list of the "10 Most Wanted" foods when making your donation:

Canned soup
Canned chili
Boxed macaroni and cheese
Breakfast cereal
Peanut butter
Canned tuna
Canned fruit
Canned vegetables
Pasta sauce

Even if you don't plan to tour the Museum, please consider making a donation to help the hungry in our community, in the spirit of Miss Sally Bush.

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who was Lida?

As we read journal entries written by A.N. Bush from 1911-13, we encounter many names of characters who populated the lives of A.N. and his family. Some of the names are easy to recognize, while others take a bit of puzzling over.

Take "Eliza", for example.

Eliza Sloan Nolan was the daughter of A.N.'s cousin, Octavia Painter Nolan. Eliza was born in 1895 and was about 16 years old when the journal entries began. She was a student at Sacred Heart Academy in Salem, but her family lived 'way out in the Clear Lake area of what is now Keizer, which was too far for a daily commute. So Eliza lived in town with A.N. and his wife, Lulu Hughes Bush, during the week, and went home to Clear Lake every weekend. A.N. enjoyed Eliza's company and detailed their adventures together, from visits to the vaudeville theater to picnics at Silver Falls. Around the same time, A.N.'s sister Sally made a portrait of Eliza so we even know what she looked like. Although A.N. never gave her last name or mentioned the family relationship, "Eliza" was easy to figure out.

Lida, not so much.

"Lida" first appeared in A.N.'s journal in November of 1911. Lida (no last name given) lived in Eugene, but had come up to Salem on her way to Detroit (Oregon) where she had been appointed postmistress. She stayed with Sally for a few days and went to visit with Eliza's family in Clear Lake one weekend. In later entries it's clear that Lida had taken up her post in Detroit and found the snowy winter weather to be a challenge. From the context one can infer that Lida was an old friend or family member, someone who literally needed no introduction -- but her actual identity was never clear.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail message from a gentleman who lives in Australia, who has distant ties to the Bush family. He had been browsing through our online photo collection and was writing to correct some of our information. Turns out his ancestor, Colin McIntosh, had been married to one Eliza Zieber, another cousin of A.N. and Sally Bush. This Eliza, who was divorced from Mr. McIntosh by 1900 and was living in Salem by 1916, was also known as... Lida. Eliza "Lida" Zieber McIntosh.

We don't have any photographs of Lida (that we know of) and we still don't know very much about her. But now we can tell her relatives that she was the postmistress in Detroit during the winter of 1912, and that she preferred the whole back over any other piece of chicken.

That's who Lida was.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A House of a Different Color!

It has been a busy summer at the Bush House Museum. In addition to the usual excitement around the Art Fair & Festival, the Museum has been surrounded by machinery, equipment, and people -- painters! The end result is a solid exterior with a high-quality paint job in a fancy new/old color:

Research indicates that the Bush House had been the same blue-gray color since at least the late 1970s, when it was placed on the National Register. However, an article written in 1878, just after the Bush family moved into their newly-built home, described the house as a "light mouse-brown" color. Also, during restoration of the porte-cochere in 2007 we discovered some remnants of what might have been the original exterior color, a greeny-browny-gray.

So, after consultation with the state Historic Preservation Office and the City of Salem, we decided to make a change, hoping that a different color will help folks see this old house in a new light.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Collections Spotlight: Hair Wreath

Today's entry is written by Museum Assistant Megan Churchwell, who leaves us on Friday to attend museum school in Seattle. Thanks, Megan, and best wishes!

One of the most unusual pieces we have here in the Bush House Museum is a beautiful handcrafted wreath made of human hair. This unique Victorian tradition is an example of the ladies’ crafts done to occupy their leisure time, which was plentiful.

Most Victorian hair crafts took the form of small jewelry items. Pins or bracelets would be made from a family member’s hair as a sign of mourning. These are the most well-known forms of hair art, because Queen Victoria is known to have worn a piece of jewelry made with her husband Prince Albert’s hair every day after his death in 1861. She held great influence over the fashions of this time, and this type of mourning jewelry remained popular through the end of the nineteenth century.

Other examples of hair art would be made of hair saved from the woman’s own hairbrush in a special dresser jar. Our example, a large wreath, is said to incorporate the hair of over 20 of the artist’s relatives, and was created in 1870. Many of these wreaths featured the hair of a recently deceased relative in the center of the horseshoe-shaped wreath for a mourning period lasting up to a year before their hair flower would be moved to become part of the large wreath.

Though most hair art was made as a sign of mourning, they were also made for sentimental reasons. At the same time hair art became popular, young girls were known to have scrapbooks containing their schoolmates’ hair with a name and verse to identify whose hair it was. Sometimes locks of hair would be glued into postcards or valentines and sent as a keepsake.

This lost art is surprisingly beautiful. If you haven’t been to the Bush House Museum to see our example of hair art, it is well worth an up-close look.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If it's July, it must be the Art Fair!

Coming up this weekend, it's the 60th Anniversary of the Salem Art Association's Art Fair and Festival!

The first fair, called the "Art Mart", was held on the lawn of the Marion County Courthouse in August 1950. The event was the brainchild of David Duniway, past president of SAA, and it was described in the President's Report thusly:

"The artists congregated around the Court House grounds, brought their easels for work and had on display their own pictures to sell. The affair was most unique and highly successful and I doubt if a more foreign scene had ever been enacted in Salem. A small sum was netted from the sales."

Financial records indicate that this first Art Mart brought in $24. The event was relocated to the front lawn of the Bush House after SAA moved into the House in 1953.

By the early 1970s, the Festival had grown so large that it was moved to the portion of Bush's Pasture Park south of the Bush Barn Art Center, where it is still held today.

SAA is celebrating the Fair's history by inviting Art Fair aficionados to share your stories of this beloved community event. What's your favorite Art Fair memory? When you come to the Festival this weekend (July 17-19), look for a green flier and share your story with us. Stories will be read from the Main Stage every day, and fliers will be collected and saved for future historians.

For more information on the Art Fair & Festival, visit our website. See you this weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Margaret Ann "Jody" Bush, 1936-2009

Jody Bush, pictured at left ca. 1940, was the great-great granddaughter of Asahel Bush II and the only child of Asahel "Ace" Bush V and his wife Faye. As a child she spent much time visiting her Aunt Sally, and later her great-grandfather, A.N. Bush, at the family home on Mission Street. In recent years she has been a dear friend to the Bush House Museum.

Jody passed away this past Sunday morning, June 14, 2009 after a long illness. The staff of the Bush House Museum and the Salem Art Association offer our condolences to her family. It has been a privilege for us to know her.

The Museum will host a memorial service for Jody in the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Asahel Bush!

Today is the 185th anniversary of the birth of Asahel Bush II, builder of the home that became the Bush House Museum. There are several ways to join in the celebration this year!

Mr. Bush's Birthday Party and Open House
Sunday June 7, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

The Museum will be open this Sunday in honor of Mr. Bush's Birthday, with cake, balloons, and self-guided tours.

Bush Entries in the Oregon Encyclopedia

The Oregon Encyclopedia is an online resource where you can learn about the history and culture of Oregon. The Encyclopedia features articles on Asahel Bush II and on the Bush House Museum. Read these entries to learn more about Mr. Bush and the house he built for his family.

Coming Up: Oregon Historical Quarterly
The Summer 2009 issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly includes an article about Asahel Bush II and his role in territorial politics as Oregon became a state. The article was written by Barbara Mahoney, who made use of the Museum's archives in her research. The Summer issue will be sent to Oregon Historical Society members this month, or you can purchase a copy from OHS when it becomes available.

Your Photo Here!
The Bush House Museum and Bush's Pasture Park have been beloved resources for generations of Salem residents. If you have a photograph of yourself or a family member taken in the Park or around the Museum, we invite you to submit it to our upcoming exhibit. Photos will be on display in the Museum through August 9; please visit our website or call us at (503) 363-4714 for more information.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kid Stuff

At this time of the year, Museum staff and volunteers are kept busy hosting groups of school children from Salem and surrounding towns. While it's always fun to have the kids here, what's even better is receiving thank-you notes from them after their visits.

"I can't believe it, Ashel Bush really built that beautiful house! And ten fireplaces! Oh my gosh! I still have one question, how come Sally and Eugenia shared a room and how come there was only one bed and no foutone?"
-- Amber

"I enjoyed the tour a whole lot! I liked Sally and Euginia's room best! Good luck on that donation box!"
-- Maya

"You are really great at teaching about the Bushes. I have learned as much as you did. It was a big house! All the rooms are fine. Guess what - I saw some cracks."
-- Jayden

"I learned a lot about Bush House and its residents. I thought the bed was really beautiful. But it didn't look too comfertable!"
-- Lauren

"Thank you so much for giving us a tour of Bush House. I learned so much I think my head is going to exploed right off my neck."
-- Wyatt

Before our heads explode with gratitude, we'd like to thank the volunteers who have given tours to a dozen school groups already this year: Jean S., Kathy P., Jane S., and Nadine H. In the words of a fourth grader, "You are awesome!!!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words?

Here's a great photo to make up for all the entries I haven't written in the past three months:

The photo comes from the Museum's archive. It has a handwritten caption on the back that reads, "The new house in 1878."

Can you imagine the day, about 131 years ago, when Salem's banker, Asahel Bush II, stopped by the studio of one F.A. Smith on Commercial Street and paid him to take a photograph of the new house out at the south end of Church Street? It must have been early spring, before the oak trees leafed out.

Mr. Bush sent copies of this photo (50 cents each!) in letters to his son and daughter who were in college in Massachusetts at the time, and described the location and purpose of each room in the house. He had already asked his daughter Sally to travel to Boston to make the final selection of furniture for the parlor, and you can still see that furniture in the parlor today.

If you look closely, you can see the original configuration of the front of the house, which included a second staircase and a smaller front porch.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recollections of the Rickreall

We came across a lovely book in our library today, Recollections of the Rickreall, by Harriet Nesmith McArthur. Born in 1851, Harriet was the daughter of James W. Nesmith and his wife Pauline, close friends of the Bush family.

Harriet's little memoir was published in 1930, when she was almost 80 years old, but she recalls vivid moments from her girlhood:
The fashioning of playhouses was a favorite occupation, and the simple construction was an easy matter: a few boards securely fastened to a tree or fence corner, with a fragrant thatch of fir boughs. The edifice was adorned with bits of broken china, glass or quaint bottles. Decrepit cups and jugs minus handles, past their use in the kitchen, were thankfully received. My elder sister was fortunate in having a tiny set of dishes from the Hudson's Bay Company store. Our dolls would make a sad showing by the side of the sophisticated beauties in present day shops, but we loved them, with all their ugliness. We each had a gift of what seemed too wonderful for daily use, dolls that came from San Francisco, and were kept in a Chinese camphor chest covered with leather, painted red, and rarely opened for inspection.

The chest also housed two gold dollars of my sister's, and three of my own. I do not quite grasp the meaning of surplus, deposits or capital that our moneyed institutions now so cheerfully announce to the public, nor were our funds in circulation, but stayed right there in the bank. As a means of barter, trade, cajolery, or gaining unwilling cooperation in some daring scheme, those five gold dollars put modern money in the shade.