Bush House Museum & Salem Art Association
Arts & History Immersion Program Field Trips
Pre-Tour and Post-Tour Educational Resources
The Bush House Museum, located in Bush’s Pasture Park, was the home of Asahel Bush (1824-1913) and his family from 1878-1953. This two-story Italianate home was constructed on a 100 acre farmstead, purchased in 1860, and retains a significant amount of original furnishings, wallpaper, and fixtures. Since 1953, the Bush House Museum’s guided tours, educational programs and special events have been a significant cultural-heritage asset for Salem residents and visitors. The park grounds surrounding the Bush House Museum are maintained by the City of Salem and the Mission Street Parks Conservancy.
The Salem Art Association’s Bush Barn Art Center is adjacent to the Bush House Museum in the original barn. The Salem Art Association, founded in 1919, remodeled the historic structure into an art center after the barn was gutted by fire in the early 1960s. The art center has four galleries which feature a range of artwork by Oregon, and regional, artists in various styles and media. In 2016 the Bush Barn Art Center Annex was remodeled into a community art hub which features contemporary art exhibitions and related programming.
The Arts & History Immersion Program (AHIP) field trips combine history tours and art experiences for 850 underserved fourth-grade students attending challenged Title I schools in the mid-Willamette Valley. Students participate in field trips to the Bush House Museum, view art exhibits at the Bush Barn Art Center and engage in relevant hands-on art activities. For over 75% of these students, the Arts & History Immersion Program is their first visit to a history museum or an art gallery. A major component of the AHIP Program is providing underserved students with access to local cultural resources.
Arts & History Immersion Project field trips, 2018-2019, are made possible through the generous support of the
Autzen Foundation, the Bush House Museum Endowment, the Marion Cultural Development Corporation,
the Robert D. & Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust, the Salem Art Association, the Salem Foundation,
the Siletz Tribal Charitable Trust, Trust Management Services, LCC, and the William S. Walton Charitable Trust!
Arts & History Immersion Program Objectives
To provide students with a standards-based guided tour, which incorporates hands-on artifacts and illustrative displays, to:
Oregon Social Science Standards Supported by Arts & History Immersion Program Field Trips
Historical Knowledge 4.12 – Explain how diverse individuals, groups (including socioeconomic differences, ethnic groups, and social groups and including individuals who are American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian or Americans of African, Asian, Pacific Island, Chicano, Latino, or Middle Eastern descent religious groups), and other traditionally marginalized groups (women, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, and individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), circumstances and events influenced the early growth and changes in Oregon (including, but not limited to fur trappers, traders, Lewis and Clark, pioneers and westward movement).
Historical Thinking 4.16 – Create and evaluate timelines that show relationships among people, events, and movements in Oregon history.
Historical Thinking 4.17 – Use primary and secondary sources to explain events in Oregon history.
Geography 4.8 – Compare and contrast varying patterns of settlements in Oregon, considering, past, present, and future trends.
Bush House Museum Pre-Tour and Post-Tour Educational Resources
Learn more about the early history of Asahel Bush in Oregon, his founding of the Oregon Statesman newspaper in 1851 and family life in the 1878 Bush House. Ross Sutherland, Bush House Museum Director, narrates this C-SPAN video, recorded in 2014, as part of C-SPAN’s Local Content Vehicles Cities Tour.
Primary & Secondary Online Resources
The Becoming Oregon: Letters to Asahel Bush, 1850-1863, the online project provides historians, researchers and students around the world with internet access to 500 original letters written to Asahel Bush (1824-1913). Bush was founding editor of the Oregon Statesman newspaper and later became one of early Oregon’s wealthiest men by co-founding the Ladd & Bush Bank in Salem, Oregon. Bush’s Pasture Park was once the farmstead of Asahel Bush and his family. Their 1878 Italianate home, along with the Bush farmstead, was acquired by the City of Salem and is preserved and interpreted as the Bush House Museum.
Find a list of letters in chronological order, from oldest to newest, at the above link.
Find a list of letters organized by author name at the above link.
The Bush Family Historic Photograph Collection includes historic photographs of the Bush Family home, early Salem and Oregon. More than half of the photographs in this online collection are portraits of family and friends taken by Sally Bush, Asahel Bush’s daughter. The collection also includes a large number of rare panoramic photographs of Oregon taken by A.N. Bush, Asahel Bush’s son, along with family snapshots by Estelle Bush, Asahel Bush’s oldest daughter.
The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon includes 26 Tribes and Bands from western Oregon, northern California and northern Nevada that were relocated to the Grand Ronde Reservation in the 1850s. These included the Rogue River, Umpqua, Chasta, Kalapuya, Mollala, Chinook and Tillamook Indians who had lived in their traditional homelands for more than 8,000 years before the arrival of the first white visitors.
The Lane Community College Library brings together information on the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya people, their social structure, treaties and reservations along with their termination in the 1950s and tribal restoration in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Oregon Encyclopedia, a project of the Oregon Historical Society, provides an in-depth history of the Kalapuya people in Oregon.
Early Oregon Explorers – Lewis & Clark Expedition | 1804-1806
The Lewis & Clark Expedition, Wikipedia website provides an overview and a detailed timeline of the expedition including information on the expedition preparations, the journey and encounters with Native American tribes.
Fort Clatsop, on the northwest Oregon coast, was the home of Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery from late 1805 to early 1806. During the winter Lewis & Clark prepared detailed notes on newly discovered mammals, birds and plants. Today a reconstruction of the original Fort Clatsop is part of the Lewis & Clark Historical Park in Astoria, Oregon.
Lewis & Clark PBS is the companion website to the film Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery produced by Ken Burns. The high-quality website includes numerous links to original archival documents, an interactive trail map and classroom resources.
Early Oregon Settlers – Hudson Bay Company at Fort Vancouver | 1824-1845
Fort Vancouver, on the northern bank of the Columbia River, was the Northwest fur trading post for the Hudson Bay Company in the early 1800s. Dr. John McLoughlin was the Chief Factor, who oversaw the operation of the fort and later established Oregon City, Oregon. Today a reconstruction of the original Fort Vancouver is part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Park in Vancouver, Washington.
The Fort Vancouver, Wikipedia website provides an overview of the history of the fort. There is historical information on the establishment of the fort, fur trade operations, agricultural production and the political relationship between the United States and Britain in the early 1800s.
Dr. John McLoughlin moved to his home in Oregon City after his retirement from Fort Vancouver in 1846. This white wood-frame house is where he lived with his wife Marguerite. McLoughlin became the mayor of Oregon City and later donated land for schools and churches. Among the many businesses he owned in the area were sawmills, a gristmill, a granary, a general store and a shipping concern. This website features a timeline of the life and work of Dr. John McLoughlin.
Early Willamette Valley Settlers |The Methodist Mission and Salem | 1834-1844
The Mission Bottom, Wikipedia website provides an overview of the history of the Willamette Mission established by Reverend Jason Lee, a Methodist Missionary, in 1834. Now part of the Willamette Mission State Park, the original site of the mission is marked with a metal representation of the original buildings.
Reverend Jason Lee, a Methodist Missionary,came to the Oregon Country in 1834 to establish a mission school for the Kalapuya at Mission Bottom and is credited with the American settlement of early Oregon. Lee was involved in early business ventures, such as the Willamette Cattle Company, which brought livestock to early settlers. He also participated in early political meetings which lead to the establishment of Oregon’s Territorial Government.
Salem, Oregon was founded in 1842by the Methodist Missionaries who first made their home at Mission Bottom. Originally a gathering place for the Kalapuya tribe, known as Chemeketa, Salem was the site of the Methodist’s Oregon Institute, which later became Willamette University. In the 1850s Salem became Oregon’s capital which prompted Asahel Bush to move his Oregon Statesman newspaper from its original location in Oregon City, Oregon.
Early Willamette Valley Settlers |The Oregon Trail | 1843-1869
The Oregon Trail began as a footpath which was also used for horse travel. In the early 1830s the trail was cleared for wagon traffic from Independence, Missouri to Fort Hall, Idaho. Later wagon trails were extended to Oregon and wagon routes to other territories and states were developed. From the early 1840s to the 1860s the Oregon Trail was the main transportation route to the West until the transcontinental railroads were established in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
The Oregon Trail, Oregon Encyclopedia provides a detailed overview on the history of the Oregon Trail, life on the Oregon Trail in Oregon and the impact of western migration on the United States.
The Oregon Trail is now a National Historic Trail which winds over 2,000 miles through six states. The Oregon Trail is an important reminder of the early settlers, from diverse backgrounds, who have made Oregon the state it is today.
Asahel Bush Travels to Oregon via Panama |1850
The Other Trail to Oregon: Crossing the Isthmus of Panama in the Early 1850s provides an introduction to Asahel Bush’s journey to Oregon in the summer of 1850 to establish the Oregon Statesman newspaper in Oregon City. Bush was invited by Samuel Thurston, the Oregon Territory’s first delegate to Congress, to establish a Democratic newspaper in the Oregon Territory. While no description of Bush’s journey is known to exist, the memoir of Mary A. Gray McLench’s voyage to Oregon with Samuel Thurston, via Panama, describes the difficulties of the trip.
The Bush Family’s Home | 1860-1953
Asahel Bush (1824-1913), the influential editor of the Oregon Statesman newspaper, married Eugenia Zieber (1833-1863) in the fall of 1854. Over the next few years their children Estelle (1856-1942) and A.N. (1858-1953) were born. In 1860 the Bush Family purchased a wood-frame house and barn, on 100 acres, from Reverend David Leslie, one of the original Methodist Missionaries to Oregon. Daughters Sally (1860-1946) and Eugenia (1862-1932) were born in this house which was located on the southern edge of Salem.
In 1863 Eugenia Zieber Bush passed away from tuberculosis and Bush sold the Oregon Statesman to attend to the needs of his four children. He invested in a dry goods store operated by Lucien Heath, Salem’s first mayor, and in 1869 Bush established the Ladd & Bush Bank in downtown Salem. In the 1870s Bush acquired William Ladd’s portion of the bank and hired Salem architect Wilbur Boothby to design a modern home to replace the Leslie house.
In 1878 the Bush House, which featured gas lighting, indoor plumbing and a central heating system, was completed. There were upstairs bedrooms with sinks for each of his children, a large bathroom and comfortable servants’ quarters. On the first floor were two parlors, a dining room and kitchen along with a library, bedroom and bathroom for Asahel Bush.
In 1882 a Conservatory for plants was constructed east of the house for daughter Eugenia.
Asahel Bush lived in the Bush House, with his daughter Sally, until his passing in 1913. In 1917 the children of Asahel Bush donated 47 acres of the original farmstead to the City of Salem for a future park in honor of their father. This land would remain undeveloped for public use into the late 1940s.
Sally remained living in the Bush home into the 1940s when the City purchased the remaining acreage for Bush’s Pasture Park. A few years after Sally’s passing in 1946, her brother A.N. Bush moved back to the family home where he lived until 1953. Following the passing of A.N. Bush, the Salem Art Association, founded in 1919, established the Bush House Museum which featured an art center and historic period rooms.
In 1965 the Salem Art Association moved their galleries from the Bush House Museum to the nearby Bush Barn Art Center following a remodeling of the barn after a fire. Today the Bush House Museum is preserved and interpreted to explore the lives and legacy of Salem’s Bush Family, the early development of Salem, and the history and diversity of early Oregon.
The Arts & History Immersion Program Field Trips in Bush House Museum visits the following rooms. The rooms are furnished with a significant amount of the Bush Family’s original furnishings to show their home around 1913. The house was modern when it was built with gas lighting, indoor plumbing and a central heating system. Since this was the home of a wealthy Oregon family, the Bush House Museum does not reflect the lifestyle of most people living in Oregon in the late 1800s into the mid 1900s.
The Sitting Room was a place to play music, with family and friends, read or play games much like a modern day family room.
The Formal Parlor was a place to visit with family and friends in a welcoming and beautiful setting. The room is decorated with fine wallpaper, large original paintings and fine furniture. There is also the Aeolian Orchestrelle which was an early form of recorded music.
When there is an opening in the music roll, the air rushes through the pipes and creates the music which comes out the screened top of the instrument. Mr. Bush purchased this instrument to celebrate the turn of the century, 1899-1900, for around $1,500.
The Library has shelves of books once owned by the Bush Family. When the Bush House was built in the 1870s there were no televisions, computers or any of the electronics devices and games we enjoy today for entertainment. Reading was very popular and is still very important today even though some people read books in an electronic format rather than a paper format.
The Asahel Bush Bedroom is a good example of the difference between public rooms in the house, which were opened to visitors, and the private rooms in the house.
The Asahel Bush Bathroom is one of the first indoor bathrooms in Salem and contains all its original fixtures.
The Kitchen and Kitchen Pantries were private rooms where food was prepared by a hired cook. There was also a housekeeper, laundress and hired hands on staff to make sure the house ran smoothly.
The Butler’s Pantry, between the kitchen and the dining room, was used to store and wash dishes.
The Dining Room table is set for a formal lunch with salad forks and soup spoons in addition to a regular set of silverware.
The Dining Room Pantry has an 1890s telephone hanging on the wall. This telephone has an oak case with an earpiece, on a wire, for hearing the call and a cone to speak into. When a call comes in there are two silver bells which ring.
The Entry Hall & Staircase provides visitors with access to the second floor bedrooms.
The Guest Bedroom provides overnight visitors with a large bed, a fireplace, closet and a private sink.
The Estelle Bush Thayer Bedroom is furnished as if Asahel Bush’s oldest daughter has returned home for a visit with her own daughter Eugenia Thayer.
The Sally Bush Bedroom has a portrait over the fireplace of Sally Bush painted by John Van Dreal in 2011.
The Gallery of Victoriana contains a variety of art, furnishings and other items which were not in the Bush House when the family lived here.