Independent Women in the Early Twentieth Century in Salem, Oregon
It is rather fitting that near the corner of Mission and Liberty streets one would find many Salem women who helped define independence in early Salem, Oregon. Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver established the first women-owned landscaping design company on the west coast. Sally Bush was an avid photographer and philanthropist, both documenting and helping those less fortunate than she, be they four or two-legged. Alice Brown cemented Deepwood’s place as a National Historic Landmark by establishing a vision for the house and gardens and maintaining it by herself for nearly forty years.
None of these women achieved this successful independence on their own. In fact, these women were all both friends and associates. Sally Bush and Elizabeth Lord were long-time friends and neighbors. Alice Brown hired Lord and Schryver to landscape her immense garden at Deepwood and continued to work with them over many decades, allowing them space to both showcase their work and expand their craft. Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver lived together in a home that doubled as their office and show garden. Sally photographed the work of Elizabeth and Edith as well as much of life in early Salem.
Lord and Schryver and Gaiety Hollow
Gaiety Hollow is the name of the home located at 545 Mission Street SE in Salem, Oregon. The property contains the home, offices and show garden of the first women-owned landscaping company on the west coast. Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver were active landscapers in the Pacific Northwest during the 1930s and 1940s. Elizabeth Lord was born in 1887 and was the daughter of Juliet Montague Lord and her husband, Oregon Gov. William Paine Lord. Juliet likely inspired Elizabeth’s love of gardening as the elder organized the first garden club in Salem, then called the Salem Floral Society (now Salem Garden Club). As Elizabeth was growing up in Salem, Sally Bush was an family friend and neighbor. There are many portraits of Elizabeth and the rest of the Lord Family taken by Bush, a practiced photographer.
Elizabeth attended Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, and Horticulture for Women in Groton, Massachusetts and graduated in 1928. Supposedly, Elizabeth met Edith Schryver during a trip Europe after the petite Edith was seated at a children’s table. After requesting a glass of wine, the error was realized and she was reseated to another table where she met her future business partner and friend, Elizabeth. Edith was born in Kingston, New York in 1901. She had also attended Lowthorpe, starting in 1920 and graduating in 1923. She spent several years working in Cornish, New Hampshire with landscape architects Harold Blossom, Elizabeth Pattee, and Elizabeth Strang. Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver came to Salem together in 1929 and formed the first office of professional women landscape architects on the west coast. They designed well over 250 gardens all across the Pacific Northwest, including the campuses of Reed College and the University of Puget Sound, and are known for their formal style, emphasis on local plants, and attention to design for all seasons of the year.
Our specialty is garden design, treating the garden as an outdoor living room of form and color in direct relation to the house, and at the same time taking every possible advantage of the existing conditions of ground and vegetation.
Elizabeth Lord, 1932
They lived together at their home and office in Salem, in a house known as Gaiety Hollow, until their deaths: Lord’s in 1976 and Schyrver’s in 1984.The home and garden were recently purchased by the Lord and Schryver Conservancy and are being rehabilitated to better reflect the home and garden when Edith and Elizabeth lived there. Make sure and schedule a tour of the beautiful and historic gardens today!
Sally Bush and Bush House
Sally Bush was born to Eugenia Zieber Bush and her husband Asahel Bush II in 1860. Sally was a prolific photographer of the life and people of Salem, especially when she became the sole owner of Bush House, located at 600 Mission St SE. Her father was a banker and the editor of the first distinctly democratic newspaper in the state, the Oregon Statesman. Sally had three siblings. The two older siblings had married so when Asahel Bush II died in 1913, the house passed into Sally’s care and she lived there until her death in 1946. Asahel had designated in his will that the house would first pass to Sally, and then to the City of Salem to become a city park. After Sally’s death in 1946, another family member lived in the house for a few years and then, in 1953, the house officially became a public garden and museum.
Sally Bush, the longest resident of the house, had a reputation for being kind and modest. She almost always wore grey. During the great depression her kitchen door often had a hand-out for the less fortunate. Her love of animals is one of her most well-remembered traits; she was a vegetarian and many animals made their homes at Bush House during her tenure there, including a favorite cow and twenty-seven cats. There is a statue of this cow with a cat playing on her back near the children’s play area behind Bush House. She was also an avid gardener — of mutual interest to her and her friend/associate, Elizabeth Lord of the landscaping company Lord and Schryver. Her father constructed a conservatory on the grounds for her to house the more exotic plants. She was also briefly involved with her father’s business, and in 1911, was the Vice-President and a director of the Ladd & Bush Bank.
In 1910, while Sally was still living with her father Asahel, he bought her an electric car. When she was learning to drive it under the tutelage of her nephew, A. Bush Jr., she ran right into the Opera House drug store, then located at the southwest corner of High and Court streets. Luckily everyone got out of the way in time and no one was hurt, though a few hundred dollars of damage did happen. The Oregon Daily Journal reports the car was only going six miles and hour but did not speed up or slow down during the whole ordeal. Sally mostly gave up driving after this incident.
One of Sally’s most important legacies is in her photography. She was an avid photographer and took many photos of her friends and acquaintances when they visited the house. She even had a studio set up in one of the bedrooms of Bush House. She took many portraits, candids, and landscape shots of Bush Park and the surrounding area before much of Salem’s development took place.
Maybe most significantly of all, Sally was an independent woman in an age that didn’t often let women pursue their own interests. Much of this independence can be attributed to her wealth, as her very wealthy father had left her both the grounds of the house and one-third of his monetary wealth meaning that she never had to work. But this can also be attributed simply to her willingness to live apart from societal expectations, a brave act on its own. She never married and, after her father died, lived with her sister in the house until she died.
Alice Brown and Deepwood
Alice moved into 1116 Mission St SE in 1924 with her husband Clifford. Clifford died tragically in 1927 and Alice lived there by herself until 1945, when she married the previous owner’s (Alice Bingham Powell) widower, Keith Powell. Alice was the one to name the house Deepwood, after a favorite children’s book, The Hollow Tree and the Deep Woods by Albert Bigelow Paine. Alice hired the Lord and Schryver firm to design the English styled garden at Deepwood in 1929. Less is known about Alice’s life but her dedication to the garden at Deepwood truly turned it into the National Historic Landmark it is today. The place where Keith and Alice married, the scroll garden, is still a popular place for weddings today.
The design of the Deepwood Garden truly cements Lord and Schryver’s legacy as important figures in Salem, both for their dedication to gardening and their success as two women running a successful business during a time when women often didn’t work outside the home.
- National Register of Historic Places, Asahel Bush House, Salem, Oregon. Nominated 21 January 1974.
- National Register of Historic Places, Dr. Luke A. Port House (aka Deepwood), Salem, Oregon. Nominated 2 October 1973.
- National Register of Historic Places, Gaiety Hollow, Salem, Oregon. Nominated 12-16-2014, NRIS No. 14000895.
- Deck, Liz, “Interpreting Classic Signature Elements for Garden Design: Resicovering Pacific Northwest Landscape Architects Lord and Schryver, Salem, Oregon.” University of Oregon Master’s Thesis in Landscape Architecture, June 2005.
- Landslide Series, “Lord and Schrvyer Legacy.” The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Published October 16, 2009. Accessed Sept. 2013. URL: tclf.org/landslides/lord-and-schryver-legacy
- Roberts, Ruth, “Lord and Schryver Landscape Architects.” The Oregon Encyclopedia, June 16, 2015.
- Roberts, Ruth, Carnaby, Gretchen, & Dolp, Bobbie, “Careless Grace – The Gardens of Lord and Schryver.” Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin, Spring 2009, p 16-26.