SALEM - The late Dale Shaffer kept Salem's history alive. Now a research library he dreamed about and promised to fund bears his name - continuing his work as the keeper of Salem's past.
"It's a gift that will live forever," Salem Historical Society Vice President and Garden Party Chairman Judi Allio said.
The Salem Historical Society will dedicate the Dale Shaffer Research Library and celebrate the society's 65th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the Salem Historical Museum during a garden party open house from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Davidson of Jeff Davidson Painting puts the finishing touches on the front of the Dale Shaffer Research Library in Salem earlier this week. The dream of the late historian to have a research library to hold his materials and other historical data significant to the Salem area has come true, with a dedication, ribbon cutting and garden party open house set for the facility from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The party also will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Salem Historical Society and the 40th anniversary of the Salem Historical Museum. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
A Speedster aircraft on loan from Richard Theiss and Theiss Aviation hangs in the two-story industrial room of the Dale Shaffer Research Library in Salem. The two levels tell the story of Salem's rich industrial past and a little of its present. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Dale Shaffer Research Library Building Chairman William Ward used this board to map out what needed to happen in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new museum on Tuesday. Volunteers are still working on that list. The library is located off of South Lundy Avenue and an alley now named for the late Salem historian Dale Shaffer. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Some of the committee members take a break inside the library of the Dale Shaffer Research Library while preparing for Tuesday's event, which is open to the public from 5 to 9 p.m., including seated from left, Garden Party Chairman and Salem Historical Society Vice President Judi Allio and Museum Curator Janice Lesher, and standing from left, SHS President David Shivers, Building Chairman William Ward and Museum Director David Stratton. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Volunteers place books on shelves, prepare displays and review donated materials inside the Dale Shaffer Research Library, named for the late Salem historian who promised his estate to the Salem Historical Society so the library could be built and maintained. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
The garden party will take place in the area outside of the ground floor of the new Dale Shaffer Research Library, which is located off of South Lundy Avenue and Dale Shaffer Way, near the Salem Historical Museum off of Pershing Street.
The event will kick off with a welcome by SHS President David Shivers and Museum Director David Stratton, a proclamation by Mayor John Berlin, a commendation by state Rep. Craig Newbold, a tribute to Shaffer by Allio and a prayer of dedication by Pastor Lou Raymond.
The ribbon cutting will include Stratton, Shivers, Allio, Berlin, Building Chairman William Ward, Museum Curator Janice Lesher, Building Committee member and city Council President Mickey Cope Weaver, architect David Sommers and Scott and Shelby Mingus of J. Herbert Construction, project general contractor.
WHAT: Salem Historical Society Garden Party.
WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
WHY: Celebrating Dale Shaffer Research Library dedication, Salem Historical Society 65th Anniversary, Salem Historical Museum 40th Anniversary.
WHERE: Dale Shaffer Research Library off of South Lundy Avenue and Dale Shaffer Way.
Following the official ceremonies, attendees can tour the new facility and enjoy some refreshments and entertainment. Local author Karen Biery will set up an easel and work on a water color painting of the festivities.
Looking around at some of the displays, Allio said, "How blessed are we."
The commemorative booklet for the garden party quoted Shaffer as saying "You have to leave something of yourself, a lasting legacy, or you were never really here."
Shaffer was definitely here - his 28 books tell story after story about the history of Salem and what it was like, whether the topic was the people, the places or the events that shaped the city.
"He was such a mild-mannered, always in the background, kind of guy," Allio said. "We've tried to follow his instructions. He would be thrilled. The legacy he left us for those 28 books, we can't thank him enough. We can't thank him enough for the building."
Shaffer died at the age of 80 on Nov. 16, 2009, but at least a year or so before his death, he started meeting with Ward and Stratton while he was living in the Courtyard at Lexington, according to Shivers.
They were kicking around ideas on where to keep his research and his notes, which were extensive and extremely organized and cross-referenced. Besides having a master's degree in business administration, Shaffer had a master's degree in library science and built new library facilities at a handful of colleges where he taught.
"He was worried that after he passed, the history was going to be gone," Allio said.
Shaffer drew out the plans for a library and wanted the front to look like the Salem Public Library with pillars. The windows on the library side of the building have the same number of panes as the library. The windows on what they consider to be the old town hall side, where the industrial history room is located, have the same number of panes as Salem's old town hall.
Until he passed away, they didn't realize how much money would be specified for the library in his estate. As it turns out, the $1.75 million estate was left to the Salem Historical Society, with about $1.2 million used for the construction of the library to preserve his research materials and to house other historical documents and items important to Salem's history.
The project broke ground on April 17, 2011, which would have been Shaffer's 82nd birthday, and has moved quickly since then. The handicapped-accessible building contains an elevator and restrooms on both floors, with entry possible from the lower level off of Lundy and from the upper level off of Dale Shaffer Way, just south of Freedom Hall.
Every way the eye falls, a piece of history will be seen, whether it's the clock from the interior of the old town hall or a book shelf from the old Fourth Street School to hold even more historic artifacts.
The upper level includes the research library room, including Shaffer's old desk and typewriter, a media storage room for photos, slides and materials being used, a staff room for meetings and research with a Mullins kitchen set up, an office with room for several desks for museum personnel and the top level of the two-level industrial history room. The stairwell on the north side of the building includes an area of refuge in case there's a fire or destructive storm.
The lower level, or ground floor, will include the ground level of the industrial room, the Dale Shaffer Book Store, which will serve as the gift shop for all the museums, a large meeting room, a kitchen and a climate-controlled safe room for precious, one-of-a-kind holdings or items that may be deteriorating. Allio called the room "a library's dream."
Shivers said the lighting in the building is automatic, meaning it turns on when it's needed. It's also energy efficient and designed free of UVA or UVB which can be detrimental to artifacts.
For the industrial room, Weaver put the word out that they were looking for items from the past and filled both levels with samples from places like Mullins, Salem Tool, Crane-Deming, Electric Furnace, Home Furniture and Salem Label. There's even a small plane on loan from Richard Theiss and Theiss Aviation, hanging from the ceiling
Former Salem Label owner Brooke Anderson and pre-press supervisor Ted Hannay saw a Salem News article about the project and brought some items to share. The company had been located in Salem for 147 years before shutting down, with the company's founder, Josiah Mitchell bringing the process of gumming paper to America.
Anderson said it's good to see Salem's industrial history preserved.
"We have gotten more donations recently than ever before because people want to be a part of this," Allio said.
Stratton said the new library adds to what the Salem Historical Society already has, but he said they could use more volunteers. Offices are open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with museum tours from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays from May through October.
Allio said she's hoping for a good turnout at the garden party, noting the public is welcome to attend.