Kimberli Fitzgerald
Historic Preservation Officer

Discover Salem’s Heritage and Culture

Due to COVID 19, some venues listed here may not be open at this time. Please verify with the venue before visiting.

You can explore Salem’s history through a variety of attractions and walking tours.

You can start with this four-minute video by the Salem Culture and Heritage Forum for their Salem “Your Capital of Culture” series. The Heritage All-Star Forum is comprised of representatives from Salem’s heritage and cultural sites.

Salem: Capital of Culture

Discover Salem Oregon: Your Capital of Culture from Salem Culture and Heritage Forum on Vimeo.

Salem is one of just six communities in Oregon that has been recognized by the Oregon Heritage Commission as a Heritage All-Star Community.

Travel Salem is a non-profit organization connecting you to places to stay and things to do in and around Salem.

Heritage All-Star logotravel salem logo

Learn and Connect

  • Oregon Heritage Exchange Blog: Learn about the heritage of other Oregon communities, connect and collaborate with others and share your own experiences.
  • Zooming Back to History: An online speaker series hosted by the Willamette Heritage Center sharing historical perspectives of topics relating to the history of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
  • Women of Mission Define Independence: Explore the place of independent women in the early history of Salem.
  • Oregon State Capitol: Learn about one of Salem’s most iconic buildings, the Oregon State Capitol Building

Visit and Explore Salem’s History and Culture

Oregon State Capitol: 900 Court St. NE
Come and take a guided or self-guided tour when your Capitol reopens to the public. Your Oregon Capitol is usually open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, and on occasional weekends for special events. Admission is always free. If you can't visit in person, take a virtual tour of the capitol and building grounds from our webpage.

Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health: 2600 Center St. NE
We are a private, 501(c)3 non-profit museum dedicated to telling the stories of the Oregon State Hospital and the people that have lived and worked here. Our 2,500 square foot museum, located in the oldest building on the Oregon State Hospital campus includes permanent and changing exhibits.

Gilbert House Children's Museum: 116 Marion St. NE
Our mission, to inspire children to learn through creative play, is accomplished through 15 hands-on exhibits, our Outdoor Discovery Area, camps, field trips, membership opportunities, and educational programs in the sciences, arts, and humanities. The Museum is composed of three historic houses; the Rockenfield House, Gilbert House and Parrish House. Come visit and play!

Jason Lee Site: 990 Broadway St. NE
A base for Jason Lee’s Methodist Mission activity during the 1840s, the site represents one of the most significant places in the history of Euro-American settlement of the Pacific Northwest and American westward expansion. The original site of the Jason Lee Mission house in Salem located at 990 Broadway Street NE. The house was constructed between 1840 and 1841 and moved to the Willamette Heritage Center in 1963, it’s the oldest still standing frame structure in the Pacific Northwest.

Salem Multicultural Institute: 390 Liberty St. SE
The vision of the Salem Multicultural Institute and the purpose of the World Beat Festival and World Beat Gallery are to create an environment of openness for all people. In all our activities, SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic.

Riverfront Park and Riverfront Carousel: 101 Front St. SE
Every element of the Carousel's animals, fixtures and decorations are handcrafted and uniquely designed to represent either the sponsors who funded that portion of the carousel, or to tell stories of our local and historical environment here in Salem, Oregon. Come to Salem’s Riverfront Park to visit the park and enjoy the carousel!

Salem Convention Center: 200 Commercial St. SE
The Salem Convention Center is conveniently located in the heart of Salem's downtown. It offers more than 30,000 square feet of versatile meeting space as the perfect venue for weddings, social events, multiple-day conventions and workshops and meetings.

Salem Civic Center and Library Complex: 555 Liberty St. SE
The Salem Civic Center was constructed in 1972 in the Brutalist style and consists of three main buildings, a fire station, city hall and public library. The civic campus includes a Peace Plaza located between the main City Hall and the Public Library designed to provide a welcoming and reflective place to foster peace in the community.

Salem Pioneer Cemetery: 2201 Commercial St. SE
Salem's Odd Fellows Rural Cemetery is among the oldest fraternal-society-sponsored burial grounds in Oregon. Friends of Pioneer Cemetery works to promote awareness of the cemetery as a resource for community history by staging periodic educational programs for the public. The group has participated in ceremonies to dedicate restored grave markers. It has hosted a regional monument repair workshop and sponsors occasional tours of the final resting places of noted figures in Salem and Oregon history.

Salem Art Association - Bush Barn: 600 Mission St. SE
The Salem Art Association is located in the heart of Bush’s Pasture Park, one of Salem’s most beautiful locations, included are the Bush Barn Art Center and Annex. These conjoined buildings feature four exhibition spaces, a gift gallery, and an Artist-in-Residence studio. Exhibits are always free to view.

Bush House Museum: 600 Mission St. SE
The Bush House Museum is preserved to explore and interpret Salem’s Bush Family and Bush’s Pasture Park, the cultural diversity of Salem history and the development of early Oregon.

Lord and Schryver Conservancy: 545 Mission St. SE
The Lord & Schryver Conservancy is a Salem-based nonprofit whose mission is to preserve, interpret and steward the legacy of Lord and Schryver for public enrichment. Lord and Schryver’s personal home, garden and studio located at 545 Mission Street in Salem, Oregon. The gardens are open on select days or by appointment.

Deepwood Museum & Gardens: 1116 Mission St. SE
Deepwood is a Victorian historic house designed in the Queen Anne style situated in a five-acre public park with formal gardens, nature trails, greenhouse, and original carriage house. We welcome everyone to come explore Deepwood whether it’s to stroll the gardens, enjoy a special event on the grounds, or visit the museum home.

Willamette Heritage Center: 1313 Mill St. SE
The Willamette Heritage Center connects generations by preserving and interpreting Mid-Willamette Valley history. The fourteen historic structures on site house permanent and changing exhibits, a research library and archive, textile learning center, and rentable event spaces. The five-acre campus is also home to retail shops, art galleries, cooperative artist studios, and offices run by our partner organizations.

Hallie Ford Museum: 700 State St.
The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is a place that celebrates creativity, beauty, and the human spirit as reflected in art. Through our exhibitions and related programming we aim to create a lively forum for the interchange of ideas and to provide opportunities for learning and personal growth.

Willamette Art Center
The Willamette Art Center is Salem's community arts center, located at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. They offer art classes and fun for all ageas. The ARt Center operates as the public face of the Friends of the Visual Arts - a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to improving our community through art and art access.

The Elsinore Theatre
The Elsinore Theatre has been at its current location since 1926, making it a Salem cultural landmark. The building was erected int he Tudor Gothic style of architecture. It is inspired by "Hamlet" and is also adorned with stained glass windows that add to its beauty.

Walk Salem’s History

  • Downtown Walking Tour: Explore Salem's historic downtown with a tour of forty-seven historic commercial buildings.
  • Oregon State Capitol Tours: Explore the Capitol building on your own or with a guide.
  • Salem Walking Tour Map: Explore Salem from the Willamette Heritage Center through Willamette University, our historic downtown and back to the State Capital with a tour of 26 sites.

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