Yost Selling Downtown Real Estate
to Concentrate on Art
Roger Yost settles in
to his art and the next adventure
At a time when most men of his age would be
retiring to a life of leisure, Roger Yost quietly
arrived in Downtown Salem in 2003 and became
one of its largest investors and an agent
He bought and began restoring landmark
buildings, became active in economic improvement
efforts, served on many boards and committees,
and began contributing to the quality
of Salem's life in many, many ways.
And just as quietly, 15 years later, at age 82,
he is downsizing his considerable Salem holdings
to devote more time to the arts.
In the last three months, Yost has sold his
Capitol Center "skyscraper," the Reed Opera
House, and the Alessandro's restaurant
building and parking lot. His Vick Building,
although currently for sale, could become the
new home of the Roger Yost Gallery that was
closed when the Capitol Center was sold to a
Eugene investment firm.
Yost became an innovator of award-winning
advertising art during a 33-year career with
Portland-based Jantzen, the world's No. 1
swimwear maker, while serving as vice president
of advertising and marketing.
While still with Jantzen, Yost began investing
in Oregon real estate in areas before they became
"trendy:" Northwest Portland, Lake Oswego,
and Newberg, part of an area that would
soon be known as "wine country."
He developed a 42-acre nursery in Newberg
("The Wine Country Nursery"), which became
one of the state's fastest growing garden centers.
Its eventual sale to the Sisters of Providence
for a hospital site brought Yost to Salem.
He could have lived anywhere in the world,
but fell in love with the Reed, moved to Salem,
and immediately began to restore it to the vision
Cyrus Reed may have had in 1869: Create
a place that would become the center of Salem's
social and cultural life.
Within six months he had restored the Reed's
ballroom, which had once been the balcony of
the original Opera House. Within a year, he
would redesign and bring the elevators up to
code - an investment in safety that would cost
Within 18 months, with a financial grant, Yost
restored the pediment that went missing in
1900, thirty years after the building was completed
in 1870. It made the Reed look like its
In the course of the next 14 years Yost and his
staff would touch and refinish or restore every
one of the building's 66,000 square feet.
He would bring in live theaters and new restaurants
into old spaces that nourished the
vision. In all, Yost would invest more than
$2,000,000 in the improvements without taking
a salary "or a penny" for his time in managing
and restoring the building. "All rents and
revenue were reinvested in the building to pay
expenses or fund renewal," Yost says.
Yost was by no means alone in shaping the
character of Liberty Street in Downtown Salem.
About a year into his restoration of the
iconic Reed Opera House, he was joined by
Rebecca Maitland, who shared his vision and
brought some creative ideas of her own to help
make the dark and decaying Liberty Street
storefronts safer and more inviting.
She teamed with the Salem Photo League to
display their works in vacant store windows,
and arranged to have lighting illuminate their
Rebecca produced a video for the Salem
Downtown Association that emphasized the
positive qualities of downtown businesses and
She also assembled a "posse" of cultural creatives
to wear costumes illustrating the history
of the Reed and neighboring buildings, and
staged alley events dedicated to art.
In the Reed, Rebecca encouraged tenants to
participate in fashion and art oriented events
promoted as "Bohemian Bashes."
With collaboration her byword, she would
later tackle a health issue created by the city's
burgeoning homeless population by getting a
group of women representing churches, human
services and professional organizations
to join her in developing an "ArtaPotties" program
in alleys and parking lots throughout the
She began the drive by installing an ArtaPotty
in her own parking lot space in the alley behind
the Reed, featuring art from the Roger Yost
Gallery, which she served a curator.
Although her attempts to get the City of Salem
to provide spaces for public toilets sponsored
by private parties never materialized, Oregon
City officials believed it was a dramatic solution
to their city problems, seized the opportunity,
and asked Rebecca to introduce the program to
their community. It is now being adopted in
cities throughout the world.
Rebecca did this while helping bring new
creative tenants to the building, and in recent
years, therapists who would find the welcoming
nature of the Reed's remodeled second and
third floor suites a perfect environment for
Along with newcomers, which included the
World Beat Festival headquarters of the Salem
Multicultural Institute, the Salem Business
Journal found the Reed an ideal base for its
editorial headquarters. Marketing companies,
bakeries, hair dressers, beauty consultants and
real estate organizations would soon keep the
Reed fully occupied, with prospective tenants
on a waiting list.The Reed had become what Roger Yost envisioned
A year after Yost purchased the Alessandro
Fasani Building and parking lot on Commercial
Street, Jane Fasani, the widow of Alessandro's
founder, approached Yost about closing
the restaurant. She was losing money. Yost
remembered saying: "This is the best restaurant
in Salem. I will forgive your lease, under
one condition, I take over the restaurant (debts
He kept most of the staff and kept the restaurant
Yost revitalized the
restaurant, made it a
in weekly entertainment,
and was among
the first to establish a
menu, feature Oregon
wines, and open on
when residents were
choosing to dine out.
In 2006 he began
adding fine art to its
walls - the beginning
of the Roger Yost Gallery -
to enhance the
Briefly, he worked with other Oregonians to
bring dinner theater to Alessandro's second
floor banquet room and "Monday Night Music"
with musicians anxious to display their talents.
In 2009 the restaurant won almost every major
award for food and dining during the Statesman
Journal's "Best of the Mid-Valley" readers'
poll. (As did the Reed for categories like Best
Historical Building, Best Wedding Venue, and
Best Place to take Out of Town Guests.)
He did this while also restoring many improvements
to the Reed and his Capitol Center
Building, taking inspiration from its builder,
Thomas Livesley, one of the world's greatest
hops growers and merchants, and a former
Yost would be invited to serve on Downtown
"improvement committees" where he energized
downtown business partners to tax themselves
to make the Central Business District a
better place, even though only Macy's would
pay a greater tax than Roger would pay for his
With his committee associates, they would
form an Economic Improvement District
(EID), in which building owners would fund a
downtown organization (eventually called "Go
Downtown Salem") to promote growth and advocacy
of the City Center.
Yost served as president of Go Downtown
from 2008-2010. It thrived under the leadership
of executive director Suzie Bicknell, with
First Wednesday themed retail events that included
music, Gifts and excitement that brought throngs
downtown. A revival of "Summer in the City,"
events called "The Rain Festival" featuring artistically
painted umbrellas, and winter blues
concerts in the Reed Opera House Trinity Ballroom.
Eventually, in the absence of Roger Yost, Suzi
Bicknell, Rebecca's targeted promotions, and
other departed key board members, the City
of Salem took over the EID, and its members
found it losing its original mission and voted
against further funding.
Sustainability Forum Charts Past Successes,
Looks To The Future
Garten GA Non-profit of the year 2018
By Beth Casper
Special to the Salem Business
The Mid-Willamette Valley is a
hub of sustainability activity, as
evidenced by a packed sustainability
forum Feb. 20 that showcased
eco-friendly successes and
charted the path for the future.
More than a hundred people
showed up to the Broadway
Commons for the event, hosted
by Salem Environmental Education,
a nonprofit offering free
nature-based experiences to students
and an informative lecture
series to adults as well as a host
of other activities run by volunteers.
Central to the valley's sustainability hub are
nonprofits such as the Energy Trust of Oregon,
which serves the 1.6 million customers
of NW Natural, Pacific Power, PGE and other
utilities by offering incentives for energy efficient
projects and helping to evaluate energy
"The cheapest energy you can buy is the
kind you don't use," Jay Ward, a senior community
relations manager for Energy Trust
of Oregon, said at the sustainability event.
Ward presented a symbolic check for
$170,276.50 to the Department of Administrative
Services to represent the money the
department will save due to the upgrades
in the state archives building. An upgraded
dehumidifying process helped the state meet
its historical preservation goals and its energy-
"I won't tell you to spend it wisely because
you already have," Ward said, laughing, as
he presented the check to Dave Wortman,
the Department of Administrative Services
statewide sustainability officer.
Three organizations took home coveted
Green Awards for their exceptional commitment
to earth-friendly practices and sustainability.
Each of the winners is EarthWISE
certified. The EarthWISE program is a free
business environmental assistance program
of Marion County. EarthWISE staff helps
businesses recycle, save energy, reduce waste
and much more. There are about 170 Earth-
WISE businesses, agencies and nonprofits in
Garten Services won the Nonprofit of the
Year Green Award for its operation of seven
sustainable businesses that provide jobs for
more than 500 people with disabilities. In
2017 alone, Garten kept 5.4 million pounds
of electronics from being disposed of and
its recycling center processed about 80 million
pounds of recyclable material. Recycling
this material instead of using virgin material
saved 635,602 trees, enough water for 9.3
million baths and the energy equivalent to
8.2 million gallons of gasoline.
"Garten Services epitomizes what it means
to be a sustainable business because they
take so seriously the three 'Es' of sustainability:
environmental stewardship, social equity
and economic vitality," said Marion County
waste reduction coordinator Bailey Payne as
he presented the award.
The Large EarthWISE Business of the Year
Green Award honored Spring Valley Dairy,
which supplies local restaurants and coffee
shops with fresh dairy products in as green
a manner as possible. Last year, the business
recycled 129,000 pounds of cardboard, pallets
and wrap and reused more than one million
crates. The business has also adapted 30
percent of its truck fleet with plug-ins to run
on electricity when not being driven. This
prevents idling and saves 2,500 gallons of
diesel fuel a year.
"Spring Valley Dairy has also done a lot to
reduce paper waste," Payne said. "By going
digital, they now save 8,400 reams of paper
a year... We feel lucky to have a business like
Spring Valley Dairy here in Marion County."
Wildwood/Mahonia took home the Small
EarthWISE Business of the Year Green
Award for its family of businesses whose
holdings include a plant nursery and sustainable
vineyard, innovative green buildings
rented to local environmentally minded
businesses, and community efforts such as
an annual literary and arts publication that
honors watershed restoration. In each endeavor,
the company incorporates community
President and founder John Miller has always
put sustainability at the forefront, said
Marion County waste reduction coordinator
"Wildwood/Mahonia was one of the first
early adopters of electric vehicle chargers,"
Pennington said while presenting the Green
By adopting electric vehicle chargers early,
Wildwood/Mahonia may have helped paved
the way for the surge in the electric vehicle
"Electric cars are coming out twice as fast
as hybrids now," said Zach Henkin, the
deputy director of Forth, a company that
is transforming the way people get around.
Forth's mission is to advance electric, smart
and shared transportation in the Pacific
Northwest and beyond.
"Our current mobility system is broken,"
Henkin said during the sustainability luncheon.
"When our car is parked, it is one of
the most underutilized assets - and our cars
are parked 95 percent of the time."
Henkin spoke about a future where autonomous,
connected and efficient cars abound
and more people share cars through services
such as Uber and Lyft than own their own.
Sustainability luncheon attendees left with
a renewed commitment to sustainability and
a shared vision for a sustainable future.
To learn more about Salem Environmental
Education go to: www.Salemee.org. For
more information about the EarthWISE program,
visit www.mcEarthWISE.net or call
Alan Pennington at 503-365-3188.
Cherry Blossom Day at the Capitol
Free Event on Saturday, March 17
Is Sure to Get You Ready for Spring!
Our Shared Heritage
Gentle green buds pop open in spring to reveal
precious pink petals of cherry blossoms
on the Capitol Mall. It is this time of year
when visitors descend on Salem to photograph
State Capitol State Park. This year the
Oregon State Capitol Foundation will host
the fourth annual Cherry Blossom Day at the
Capitol on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m.
until 2 p.m. showcasing the return of spring's
splendor to Oregon.
This event is free and open to the public.
Parking is free as meters are not enforced on
weekends. Attendees are encouraged to pack
a lunch and sit under the blossoming cherry
trees to partake in a Japanese cultural experience
known as hanami.
Children and families can: taste cherry
products from meduri farms, enter the kimono
contest, calligraphy characters with
japanese studies student leaders, fly a kite on
the capitol mall (while supplies last), watch a
roller derby demonstration by the cherry city
roller derby league, enter a coloring contest
hosted by cherry city comic con, learn about
and create your own ikebana, fold paper
and make your own origami, ink up a fish
and print it (gyotaku), witness a traditional
japanese tea ceremony , listen to koto music
, beat a taiko drum, and take a photo among
the blossoming cherry trees.
The Japanese Cultural Society is furnishing
many traditional performances and exhibits,
including Taiko drumming, Japanese
chorus music and dance.
Tower tours to the Oregon Pioneer will be
available for the first time in 2018 with tour
times at 11 a.m., NOON and 1 p.m. weather
permitting. Senate Bill 146 was passed last
year designating the third Saturday in March
as Cherry Blossom Day.
The public can learn
more about Cherry Blossom Day by calling
Visitor Services at 503-986-1388 or visiting
events at www.oregoncapitol.com