In 1932, this house stood among 8 others in this block of Leslie Street between 12th and University Streets. By 1966, there were twice as many residences on the 1100 block of Leslie Street listed in the City Directory. Today it is alone, the others having been moved or demolished. The blocks around it on three sides are medical offices and the expanded Salem Hospital. The fourth side is the busy 12th Street with its ramp heading east onto Mission Street.
Our earliest record, for 1932, shows it occupied by Mrs Grace Burns, followed by Arthur Denison two years later, and from 1936 to 1947 by L. C. Ramage and wife Lillian. The family who lived there the longest period of years was that of Richard Schmidt. There were many children in this spacious bungalow and altered bedrooms accommodated the growing family. (Remodeling of the basement revealed that there had been a fire, that this might have been the second structure on this lot.) Research continues in order to learn more about the house in the residential years.
How did it survive?
The latest owner discovered that the local builder used a cement-based stucco that was exceptionally tough and durable, although not suitable for moving. And, as the other residences disappeared, this one found an owner in the 1990s who put it another practical use: storage space for a nearby medical facility.
This house is a reminder that the downtown University neighborhood was once one for families and the small businesses that served them. We are grateful that this former residence can still echo the small-town Salem that no longer exists.
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