The Search for Growing Room

Lack of space plagued the State Archives from the beginning. The program had only a few sections of shelves in the State Library basement and soon was stacking boxes of records in rows on the floor. Over the years additional space was provided in the State Library building, but eventually even that proved inadequate.

Soon the State Archives was looking for space in other state buildings in the Salem area. At one time it occupied seven separate storage facilities which offered varying degrees of safety and utility.23 A storage area at the State Hospital suffered problems related to dust; the danger of leaking pipes; and the presence of cats, both dead and alive. A vault in the basement of the State Office Building had a leak from overhead pipes that resulted in mold damage to tax rolls.24

Eventually, in 1958 the State Archives and the Department of Finance and Administration won the assignment of space for archives storage and a records center capable of holding 10,000 cubic feet of records in the basement of the Capitol. This provided more space and overall efficiency but also had overhead pipes that leaked from time to time. Unfortunately, this location fell victim to the Columbus Day wind storm of 1962. The storm caused no damage to the records but it did cause the governor to decide to use the Capitol basement as a civil defense control center. This in turn led to moving the records center to the second floor of the Finance Building which provided less space.

After many studies and much lobbying, permission was granted to lease space on the second floor of Larmer's Warehouse at 1005 Northeast Broadway Street. While the site did have problems, it offered low cost, relatively good security, and the least amount of needed construction. The other possibilities were the Evans Building on the State Hospital grounds and the Keith Brown Warehouse at Madison and Baker Streets.25 An additional benefit of leasing space in Larmer's Warehouse was the possibility of expansion if and when other leaseholders vacated. This in fact happened later and the State Archives eventually occupied space on four floors of the building including the basement.

Vacancies in the State Library building created other opportunities for growth over the years. Space on the third floor and in the basement previously occupied by the Veterans Department and the Department of Education was dedicated to the State Archives. The State Archivist even got a new office out of the deal.

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