Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Hudson's Bay

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Institution Name: Willamette University
Original/Historic Place Name: Mill Race
Location on Campus: center of campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1889original construction; diversion of Santiam River Unknown
1997further construction (widening); dedication under new name of Hudson's Bay Unknown
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Distinct topography:
The Mill Race runs the length of the campus, offering a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife. The water course is part of a diversion of a diversion for the Mill Stream from the Santiam River.
Views and vistas:
Constructed water features:
Hudson's Bay, a constructed widening of the Mill Race between Smith Auditorium and Putnam University Center, is a center for campus activity. The Mark O. Hatfield Library with its clock tower adjoins the Bay, and the Martha Springer Botanical Gardens are located upstream on the edge of the Mill Race. The stream also runs beside Goudy Commons, the campus' primary dining hall, and between the Atkinson Graduate School of Management and the College of Law.
Other characteristics:
Materials: water; brick; plant beds; lawn; gardens; natural vegetation
1867-1997outdoor space (water course)
1867-present (2007)other (industrial use by nearby mills and museum)
1997-present (2007)gardens (planned)
1997-present (2007)outdoor space (ceremonial area)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Hudson's Bay is a portion of the Mill Race, which runs the full length of the campus and is a diversion of the Santiam River. Mill Race originally was used to provide power for the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and pump water for Salem, and later, for the Boise Cascade Corporation. Located in front of the Putnam University Center, Hudson's Bay officially was dedicated in 1997 by the Alumni Association in honor of Jerry E. Hudson, who had retired after 17 years as university president.

Bordering Hudson's Bay are the Mark O. Hatfield Library (completed in 1986), the Whipple Clock Tower (named for James S. and Mildred Wilcox Whipple and also completed in 1986), and the Jackson Plaza (named for leading state civic and business leader and university trustee, Glenn Jackson). The spaces in and around these buildings serve as important gathering spaces on campus. Today incoming students have a tradition of placing floating candles in the stream during a matriculation ceremony at the beginning of the academic year.

The Mill Race still powers a turbine at an exhibition about the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, which is part of the Mission Mill Museum across from the university campus. The Kay mill produced wool products from 1889 to 1962, and holds a significant place in the region's economic history. The museum also houses the Methodist Parsonage and the Jason Lee House from the early days of the Mission, which founded Willamette University. The mill's owner, Thomas B. Kay, was a man of wide experience in private business and public service. He served as a university trustee for 19 years and also as Oregon state treasurer.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Gatke, Robert Moulton. Chronicles of Willamette, the Pioneer University of the West. Portland, OR: Binfords and Mort, 1943.

"Mission Mill Museum." Online (2007). Willamette University, Salem, OR.

"Tour 1898 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill--Salem, Oregon." Online (2007). Willamette University, Salem, OR.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office, Unknown
Other: Mission Mill Museum

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Last update: November 2006