Street Trees, Again…

This week a sad battle was lost downtown.  The Ladd and Bush branch of U.S. Bank had been denied it’s request to remove a row of street trees that many of us had loved for decades.  The Shade Tree Advisory Committee voted against the removal of the trees, but the bank appealed and won March 12, so a row of five Japanese Zelkova trees were slated for removal this week.  Tuesday a group of tree activists showed up near the bank to demonstrate their displeasure…

trees before

David & Lorraine before

and the city chose to cut the trees in the evening so the “witnesses” wouldn’t be there…except for David and Lorraine, watching the sad moment…


I took a quick drive-by today…three of the five have been removed with the other two to follow once birds nesting there have been removed…

trees after

after, 2

which actually then brings us to the story of other odd decisions made by the same bank over the years.  The building looked like this when it was first proudly built (c.1860)…cast iron detailing from molds that were brought around the Horn….

original bank

For a long time it looked like this, and a generation of trees grew up….

Bank bfore enlargement

In 1941 an oddly modern addition was put on the bank, designed by Pietro Belluschi…handsome but not exactly harmonious…trees gone…

Belluschi Bank

They then tore the Belluschi addition down, and in the 1960’s had the cast iron fronts replicated, and enlarged the bank…not a tree in sight…

bank after addition....

The Zelkovas were planted in the early 1970’s…and have gracefully enhanced State Street for 40 plus years.  Sad to say goodbye.


  1. …and a local restaurant owner went to the bank yesterday and yelled at them…got arrested. They are unnuanced as a business and always have been…don’t realize they are part of a community I think.

  2. Thanks for a great history of the bank and its trees. David and I were so sad to hear they were taking the trees out. The beauty of natural foliage around commercial properties adds to their appeal, always make buildings feels more welcoming. It always surprises me when commerce doesn’t see the value in that. Sad day for downtown Salem….

  3. My understanding is that the cast iron facade was not replicated but rather a nearly identical one from the Ladd and Tilton Bank in Portland was salvaged when that building when it was torn down and then incorporated into the Ladd and Bush building. Thanks for the history.

  4. Here’s a history of the Ladd & Tilton Bank and notes about the way its facade was incorporated into the facade of Ladd & Bush.

    The writer notes that

    In a stunning deviation from the near standard practice of the time, US Bank chose to maintain the historic character of the Ladd and Bush bank. In 1967 the building was “radically remodeled,” according to the “Commercial Street Historic District Narrative” (this may be a euphemism) with the interior gutted and new concrete walls constructed. The original cast iron façade was then re-applied. In the expansion, the bays on Commercial Street were increased from eight to eighteen and on State Street from seven to ten.

    The expansion was made possible by augmenting the original cast iron facade of the Salem bank with the identical ironwork from the Ladd and Tilton Building in Portland, saved by Eric Ladd, thirteen years prior.”

  5. What utter stupidity. What on earth is their reason for removing the trees that shade, provide bird habitat, clean the air, absorb noise soften the hardscaping and add beauty to the street? In this day when most are enlightened enough to realize the need for more green in cities, especially the large trees that take so long to mature, how on earth could the city let this happen?

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