FIRST CAPITAL OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT
BEFORE SALEM, THERE WAS OREGON CITY
First State House
Throughout the late 1830’s and 1840’s the new settlers persevered in their efforts to establish a new government for the Oregon Territory. These efforts were centered in Oregon City, with their first meetings held in local homes, the Cliff Hotel and then in the newly finished Methodist Church (1843).
In August of that year, the U.S. Congress established the Provisional Government of Oregon. Oregon City became its first Capital and by 1849 they located to a new three-story wood structure, located on the Southeast corner of 6th & Main Streets. On the upper floors were meeting rooms, accesed by the street sidewalk and stairs which banked up the hill. The rooms were shared by the Masons and others.
On May 4th, 1852 President Milard Filmore signed legislation making Salem the Capital of the Oregon Territory, though the legislators continued to meet in Oregon City until 1854 when the new Capital building was completed in Salem. By 1859 the Oregon Territory became the State of Oregon.
One of the first depictions of the “first state house” was on the 1858 Oregon City Lithograph, where it is prominently shown in the lower border and labeled “Court House and Masonic Hall”.