The Big 3: Water, taxes and regulations

The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Out-of-town visitors to Salem have plenty of sight-seeing opportunities.

Salem, according to Travel Salem, is steeped in history, from the Capitol to stately homes with storied pasts to Willamette University, which was the first university in the West.

Three historic properties can be visited without leaving downtown Salem: the Bush House Museum, Deepwood Museum and Garden and the Willamette Heritage Center.

The Bush House Museum is an elegant 1878 Italianate mansion built by pioneer businessman Asahel Bush II. It is set in the 100-acre Bush’s Pasture Park, a public park and botanical garden also named after Asahel Bush. The museum offers guided tours of its exhibits of textiles, photos and historic artifacts. The Bush House is at 600 SE Mission St.

Located adjacent to Bush’s Pasture Park, Deepwood Museum and Garden is a gabled Queen Anne-style structure with an enchanting garden designed by the Northwest’s first female landscape architecture firm, Lord and Schryver. Built in the 1890s, the museum was designed by noted Northwest architect W.C. Knighton. Deepwood Museum and Garden can be found at 1116 SE Mission St.

The Willamette Heritage Center brings to life the lives of early settlers, as well as what was once a prominent local textile industry. Located on a 5-acre campus, the 14 historic structures include the 1889 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, a well-preserved Victorian-era factory that includes period equipment and detailed exhibits, such as a woolen dye shop, a machine shop and an original water turbine.

The grounds also include four pioneer-era buildings, three related to the early Methodist Mission that was established in Salem by Jason Lee. All feature period furnishing and exhibits. The Willamette Heritage Center is at 1313 SE Mill St.

Then, of course, there is the Oregon Capitol. Among other sight-seeing options, visitors to the Oregon State Capitol can enjoy a self-guided tour of the state’s art collection, which recently was reinstalled within the Capitol and features more than 150 of some of Oregon’s most well-regarded artists.

Located across the Capitol grounds, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University also offers an excellent opportunity to view artistic works of Pacific Northwest and Native American artists, as well as a diverse collection of traditional European, American and Asian art. The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is at 700 State St.

All of these tourism highlights are within easy walking distance of one another, catering to a convenient way to enjoy an afternoon or more in Salem.

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