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Dome Building Salem

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The Dome Building was built as a receiving building for new patients being admitted to the Oregon State Hospital (formally Oregon Insane Asylum). Part of the State Hospital Historic District, the Dome Building is individually eligible for National Register listing because of its social history and distinctive Neo-Classical design.

The Dome Building is representative of high quality government architecture of the early 1900s and its Neo-Classical design reflects evolving attitudes toward services for the mentally ill. The architect, Edgar Lazarus, is well-known for designing Clatsop County Courthouse (1904), Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge (1918), and numerous Arts & Crafts houses in the Portland area. While it is just one of many contributing structures in the historic district, the impressive scale and design of the Dome Building make it known by most Salem residents.

No longer in use by the State Hospital, the Dome Building is occupied by the Oregon Department of Corrections and is receiving no maintenance while the state plans to sell and redevelop the property. Though listed in the National Register as part of the Oregon State Hospital Historic District, significant site changes have since lessened the integrity of the overall district, creating the possibility of delisting. Proactive steps are needed to plan for the protection, rehabilitation, and reuse of this significant building in light of mounting deferred maintenance and uncertainty about future use.

The Dome Building should be individually listed in the National Register while the state and local stakeholders work with Restore Oregon to identify preferred options for adaptive reuse. A commitment for the permanent protection of the building through a conservation easement would alleviate community concerns that the building may be demolished or significantly altered in the future.

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Restore Oregon and the entire field of historic preservation have been evolving in recent years. What originated as an effort to stop demolition of colonial landmarks has expanded into a movement focused on livability, sustainability, adaptive reuse, place-making, job creation, and Main Street revitalization!Learn more…

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Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

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