All are welcome to come to a Public Archaeology Open House on Wednesday November 8, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to learn about newly unearthed secrets of Salem's history. Willamette Professor Scott Pike will lead his students in an excavation of the immediate area around a rediscovered Chinese funerary shrine in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery located at Commercial St SE and Hoyt Street SE.
Due to very limited parking, attendees should park along Hoyt St S and walk to the cemetery. With the wet weather, mud-ready footwear is encouraged. Visitors are reminded to be respectful of gravestones, walkways and other people. Rubbings are not allowed as they are dangerous to both the person doing the rubbing and the delicate, old gravestones.
Records from the original cemetery owner show that the first Chinese burial in the cemetery was likely between 1864 and 1870. In 1901, about a dozen Chinese people were buried in the Chinese section of the cemetery. Burials continued through the 1930s until the last record disinterment of remains in 1948. The area soon became covered in brambles and attempts at cleaning the area were made in 1953 and again in 1963. Sometime between 1963 and today the shrine was destroyed.
The Open House is hosted by the City of Salem Historic Landmarks Commission in collaboration with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office and Willamette University.
For additional details about the project, or if you are interested in serving on the Salem Pioneer Cemetery Chinese Shrine Project Advisory Committee, please contact the City of Salem's Historic Preservation Officer, Kimberli Fitzgerald.