If you thought the First United Methodist Church is Salem's Tallest Building, you were right. Congratulations. The Methodist Church is 188.4 feet tall, which is 15 feet taller than the Capitol and 24.6 feet taller than the Capitol Center Office Building.
Interestingly, the top of the Methodist Church spire and the top of the Golden Pioneer have nearly the same elevation...the church spire being only 4.3 feet higher. This is one reason it is difficult to judge the height of these buildings from ground level or even from eye level EAST or eye level WEST.
Additional factors have made it awkward to estimate the heights of Salem's tallest buildings. One is the distance that separates each from the other. The Capitol, the Methodist Church and the Capitol Center are each two blocks apart.
The other is the slight rise from the Methodist Church to the Capitol . To further complicate estimates, the curb elevations of the Methodist Church (153.4') and the Capitol Center (155.4') are nearly identical.
From street level in front of the First United Methodist Church, you can sense that the Capitol is on a very gentle hill though it turns out to be a 10.7 foot incline over a two-block distance. There are lots of subtleties that throw off the eye.
This is why no one has really been able to estimate the heights of the buildings as they relate to one another. Which is why a mechanical device in the hands of an engineer was required to finally determine which was Salem's Tallest Building...and solve this city's 75-year-old riddle.
Measurements certified by Wilhelm Engineering of Woodburn, Oregon.