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Salem Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center
Authorized during the Great Depression and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 19, 1934, this Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center occupies 445 acres of the former Parrott and Obenchain plantations. The campus is organized into several groupings of mostly Georgian Revival buildings. High-quality materials used during construction of the original 1930s buildings—including Flemish bond brick walls, slate shingle roofing, and coursed stone foundations—are complemented by the use of such classical details as modillion and dentil cornices, belt courses, and door and window surrounds.
Main Building (Building 2), the dominant building, has a tripartite form that incorporates a pedimented central block linked with hyphens to flanking pavilions. A Doric portico above an arcaded ground story highlights the central block, which is further emphasized by a tall octagonal cupola and groupings of massive chimneys. The Auditorium (Building 5) features a Doric temple front, tall arched windows along the side walls, decorative wrought-iron fencing ornamented with lyre and shield motifs, and a tall rear projection that accommodates the stage and proscenium. The Auditorium and the unassuming modern brick Chapel (Building 144; 1985, Sherertz Franklin Crawford Shaffner) form one side of the campus's principal quadrangle. The quad is shaped by a group of buildings linked by curved brick walls and corridors to enclose a large garden area. Six ward buildings—two on each of the remaining three sides—complete the space. Behind Main looms a modern multistory hospital wing with multiple gable roofs and poorly proportioned arched windows.
Located at the western edge of the hilltop campus, with views of Salem and the Roanoke Valley, is a group of detached staff residences, one of which is Gateway House (Building 25A, mid-nineteenth century). This Greek Revival brick house, with a c. 1900 wraparound porch with fluted Corinthian columns, was once the centerpiece of one of the estates the VA acquired.
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