On behalf of Historic Salem, Inc. I want to thank the Salem community for supporting our holiday fundraiser, Christmas in Salem. The 38th annual holiday home tour hosted more than 2,100 tour guests who visited 10 private homes, each uniquely decorated for the holidays. The success of this tour supports Historic Salem’s mission to advocate for historic assets in our community while also highlighting the value of preservation.
The “City Sidewalks” theme for this year’s tour showcased homes in the McIntire District and in Downtown Salem. We even highlighted the history of downtown by offering lectures by Jim McAllister on Salem’s Urban Renewal. Most fittingly, tour headquarters was in Murray Hall at The Bridge at 211, one of the few buildings in this downtown neighborhood that remained standing after urban renewal.
Thanks to the sacrifice and generosity of our home owners, what a fabulous group of homes we were able to showcase once again this year! Special thanks also to the many guides and house captains who stewarded the homes during the tour. Their diligence in watching over these houses while also providing historic content and engaging with tour guests is a huge part of what makes this event so successful. Our decorators for all the homes did such a marvelous job. And, we also greatly appreciated the many musicians who donated their time and talent to perform in several of the homes. How festive!
Thanks as well to our tour headquarters host, The Bridge at 211, for providing a beautiful venue and being so accommodating. And, we extend our most sincere appreciation to our many partners who helped add to the excitement of the tour: Creative Salem, Destination Salem, Jim McAllister, Salem Arts Association, Salem Food Tours, Salem Historical Society, SalemVolunteers.org, Salem Wine Imports, and The Garden Club.
Importantly, this event wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of several local institutions, including Soucy Insurance, the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites, Salem Harbor Station, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, Cummings Architects, and Salem Five Charitable Foundation. And, we’re so appreciative of our office staff and the dedicated Christmas in Salem committee, chaired by Simeen Brown, who donate so much of their time and talents to ensure our tour is a success year after year.
Christmas in Salem is a spectacular way to kick off the holidays, see inside historic Salem homes, and spend time with friends and family enjoying Salem’s holiday season. Remember to join us again next year for our 39th Christmas in Salem, held from Friday, November 30 through Sunday, December 2. Learn more at christmasinsalem.org. There’s no better way to launch yourself into the holiday spirit!
Historic Salem, Inc.
Please join Historic Salem in supporting the Federal Historic Tax Credit.
There is a real possibility that the Historic Tax Credit will not be included in Federal Ways and Means Chairman Brady's tax reform bill expected to be released on November 1. The bill could go to the floor for a full House vote as early as November 6, giving House members three days to amend. Let’s make sure the historic tax credit is included in the legislation. Please join us in acting now to show Washington that historic preservation advocates strongly support of the historic tax credit’s track record for creating jobs, revitalizing historic communities, and preserving our history.
Why this matters:
The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) encourages private investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings. The credit attracts private capital—$131 billion since inception—to revitalize often abandoned and underperforming properties that have a financing gap between what banks will lend and the total development cost of the transaction.
From a preservation standpoint this is obviously fantastic. HTC eligibility requires adherence to the Secretary of Interior Standards for Historic Rehabilitation as administered by the National Park Service. These rigorous standards mean the buildings will be brought back into use while also maintaining the historic features that make them unique and important.
But in addition, the Historic Tax Credit has real economic value:
In the past 30 years the rehabilitation of 42,293 historic buildings across the country has created more than 2.4 million jobs.
In addition to revitalizing communities and spurring economic growth, the HTC returns more to the Treasury than it costs. In fact, Treasury receives $1.20‐1.25 in tax revenue for every dollar invested. That means that for the $25.2 billion in federal tax credits granted, more than $29.8 billion in federal tax revenue has been collected from historic rehabilitation projects.
As local economic activity, historic rehabilitation greatly outperforms new construction in job creation. Rehabilitation project costs are on average 60 percent labor and 40 percent materials compared to new construction, which is about 40 percent labor and 60 percent materials. In addition to hiring local labor, historic rehabilitation materials are more likely to be purchased locally. As a result, approximately 75 percent of the economic benefits of these projects remain in the communities where these buildings are located.
What you can do:
The most effective way to advocate with our Federal representatives is through a phone call followed up with an email. Please see the directions and script below. Alternatively, you can click here to submit a letter through the National Trust for Historic Preservation website.
Script for Calling and E-mailing
➢ Legislators need to know that their constituents support inclusion of the Historic Tax Credit in the House and Senate tax reform bill. Below is a script you can use to when calling the Washington office as well as the district offices of both senators and your representative.
In Salem we are represented by:
Senator Elizabeth Warren
202-224-4543 Washington, DC
(617) 565-3170 Boston
Senator Ed Markey
202-224-2742 Washington, DC
Representative Seth Moulton
202-225-8020 Washington, DC
(978) 531-1669 Salem
21 Front Street
Salem, MA 01970
Step #1 Call your representatives and speak to their staff, or leave a message. Use the script below as a guide.
Step #2 Call their district offices and ask to speak to the District Director and use the same script as below.
Step #3 Finally, send an e-mail using a variation (so they don’t disregard your e-mail) of the Subject line: Historic Tax Credit-Tax Reform. Explain that you had called and ask that they communicate your concerns to your representative and two senators.
1. Introduce yourself
2. Say “I have been hearing about tax reform and I wanted to check in to see how the HTC is fairing. I am extremely concerned that is was not specifically mentioned in the tax reform framework.
3. Explain why you value Historic Tax Credits and that the redevelopment of historic buildings will not get done without the HTC. See top of this message for ideas.
4. Talk about recent projects and future projects that won’t happen without the HTC.
In Salem we have approximately 30 projects that have been undertaken using Historic Tax Credits. These include many affordable housing projects in the Point Neighborhood, The Salem Jail, The Merchant Hotel, 90 Washington Street (the old Smoke Shop building) and many more.
5. Ask…. “As Congress moves forward on tax reform, please ask the Member to be vocal in their support to the Senate Finance Committee Chair, Orrin Hatch, Chairman Brady of the House Ways and Means Committee and others on the committees -- to keep this important incentive that allows redevelopment of our most challenging but historically significant buildings.”
6. End the call with a request for a response – something like “Would you please let me know your boss’ position on the Historic Tax Credit after you’ve had a chance to present this information I’ve shared?”
Written by Emily Udy, Preservation Manager
At the heart of preservation is the desire to maintain the defining places of our community so that we can understand our place in the timeline of society. When we are engaged in preservation we are deciding what we want to survive into the next century, which is an awesome responsibility; one that belongs to us all.
As we look from past to future it is imperative to address how preservation supports sustainability and resiliency. These three goals are intrinsically tied together, and in fact, the Preservation movement is indebted to the Sustainability movement for their efforts to preserve our natural environment. Salem, like any city settled on the seashore, has a history tied to the water, and as a result many of our historic resources will face natural demolition as flood levels change and average daily tides move higher.
What’s Happening: On Thursday September 7 at 7:00pm at 120 Washington Street in the 3rd Floor conference room the Planning Board is holding a Public Hearing to review a proposed development for 18 Franklin Street (the former Ferris Auto Service property). The proposal is for 43 condo units in 5 buildings. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: This is the furthest east property in the North River Canal Corridor (NRCC). It is the first of as many of seven properties near the intersection of North, Commercial and Franklin Streets that will be facing redevelopment in the next few years, and this project will set the expectation of quality to measure the other projects. As a waterfront development, this project has high visibility from downtown and the North River overpass and it will impact the historic North Salem neighborhood in which it sits.
Historic Salem Opinion: Development of this site is guided by the North River Canal Corridor master plan which sets specific goals for this Northeast area of the Corridor. These include low density housing in the scale of the surrounding neighborhood and improvements to pedestrian access along the North River, along both sides of Franklin Street, to the MBTA lot and at the intersection of North and Franklin Streets. We believe that achieving these goals will create a project that respects the neighborhood character.
What You Can Do: This is the first meeting for city permits for this project, and it is important that community input is heard early during the initial public comment period. Please consider attending the meeting with us or sending an opinion to the Planning Board by clicking here. Note that there will be a series of Planning Board, Design Review Board, and Conservation Commission meetings going forward to review this project
If this is your first planning board meeting (or you want a refresher) click here to read the guidelines of a Planning Board meeting.
After considering the arguments for and against the zoning change on Derby Street, the Planning Board voted 6 to 1 to not support rezoning until the Downtown Renewal District boundaries could also be expanded. Read the official decision here.
The Urban Renewal District, as administered by the Salem Redevelopment Authority, provides controls for demolition and design, which Historic Salem agrees is imperative for any B-5 zoning expansion.
Read the related Salem Matters advocacy alert here: Zoning changes proposed for Derby Street may impact historic fabric of neighborhood.
What’s Happening: On Wednesday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m. at 120 Washington Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room, there will be a joint meeting of the Design Review Board and the Salem Redevelopment Authority. The Design Review Board agenda includes continued discussion and vote to approve the schematic design for 65 Washington Street – the proposed new condominium development by Diamond Sinacori, LLC and Urban Spaces, LLC on the former Salem District Court site. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: This is a very high impact project because of its size and location at the entrance corridor to the downtown. The project will tear-down the empty Salem District Court building at the corner of Federal and Washington Streets and build a new condominium complex. It will stretch almost an entire city block from Federal Street to Church Street, and will be one of the first large buildings seen when arriving downtown. It is important that the Design Review Board require quality design.
Historic Salem Opinion: An important part of our mission is to ensure that new development complements the historic character of the city. The quality of construction, as well as the design of this building, has been under significant scrutiny and criticism from the City as well as Historic Salem and residents of Salem. We are asking for pedestrian friendly street-level design (from both storefronts and parking areas) and details that compliment the neighborhood. It is important to speak up for a good design, materials, and scale for this project because once it is built, it is here to stay.
What You Can Do: Please consider attending the meeting with us on Wednesday, July 26th or e-mail an opinion to the Design Review Board directly.
We also have a Facebook conversation about good design in Salem, read what others think and let us know your thoughts.
What’s Happening: On July 20 at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, the City Council will continue the public hearing regarding a citizen’s request for a zoning change from R2 to B5 at 204, 206, 214, and 222 Derby Street. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: Rezoning these parcels from Residential Two Family (R2) to Central Development (B5) heightens the risk of tear-downs of these smaller historic buildings and re-builds of much larger buildings and denser development, which would change the character of this important entry corridor to the historic Derby Street neighborhood. Rezoning could also help legitimize potential roll-out of this dense, city center zoning down all of historic Derby Street.
HSI Opinion: The buildings in question are currently mixed-use, grandfathered into an R2 zone, which requires zoning relief for use changes. While HSI understands this inconvenience, the risk to the character of the historic Derby Street neighborhood is more important. Better solutions include either rezoning these parcels to the more neighborhood-appropriate Business Neighborhood (B1) zoning or protecting the historic buildings with preservation easements before rezoning to B5. The Council could also consider extending the local historic district to encompass these properties, which would require more municipal scrutiny over any future building changes.
What You Can Do: Please consider joining us at the public hearing on the 20th. You can also e-mail an opinion directly to the city council by clicking here.
The city’s initiative for 289 Derby Street is an excellent example of enlivening not just a public space, but the public process. In traditional public meetings many people don’t have the time or feel that they can attend and speak at a public meeting* but the organizers of this event seem to be taking creative steps to make this an inclusive process. This is an excellent opportunity for collaborative placemaking on a site that has a strong tie to Salem’s maritime and industrial history.
In Salem, as in other places, our city is recognized for its open space as much as its buildings.
In the case of the site in question this “new” public space has the potential to continue a vibrant chain of public spaces (attached – public space map) that connect the downtown to the waterfront; and among other uses is an excellent location for educating us on the physical shape of our city when the land was created by landfilling, and strengthening our connection to the water and to the larger world as a historical shipping port and world influencer.
HSI Board Member John Schneider wrote in his recent essay on the importance of public space, “Public spaces are important for … the capacity of cities to endow their residents and visitors with a broadly inclusive social experience that … invites a feeling of mutuality, and … civic pride.”
So come! Help the city make this a “broadly inclusive social experience” by sharing what matters to you. Attend as many of these outdoor, family friendly, lively events as you can. Share what matters to you and learn what matters to your neighbors. Seize the opportunity to be part of this innovative process.
*Though, I can assure you that you have every right to do so, no expertise or social status needed. If you want help crafting what you’ll say at a public meeting, contact us and we are happy to help talk you through it.
Starting tonight, the city, in collaboration with Creative Salem & Salem Public Space Project, is hosting a series of Placemaking events to determine the future of the vacant lot at 289 Derby Street. These "placemaking community events" are a fantastic way to gather ideas and interests in the future of the lot.
Years ago, there were plans to transform the lot (and adjacent parcels) into a Bowditch park. In 1979, the city put forth plans that proposed a maritime-inspired park that took design cues from Salem's sailing and trading history.
One of our nine 2017 Preservation Awards Winners was the rehabilitation of the Probate and Family Court House. The project that turned the 1909 Registry of Deeds into the 2017 Probate and Family Court building is a stunning rehabilitation that is the result of a five year planning and design process by the architecture firm Perry Dean Rogers. The building stands out even amid a row of monumental buildings on Federal Street. The fully restored exterior is capable of stopping you in your tracks. Careful brick and granite cleaning and new windows bring a youthful glow to this old building. Accessibility ramps are subtly tucked into the façade allowing the portico to retain its grandiosity. New doors were designed to meet the intent of the long lost original doors and those gorgeous lanterns cast a comforting glow on the evening streetscape.
During the course of the project the intention was always to keep as much historic fabric as possible. The team evaluated the interior to decide what highly visible and architecturally significant areas could be restored; what would be rehabilitated by continuing the character of the building into areas with less architectural detailing; and what areas, such as utility space, was non-significant and could just be renovated.
Restoration focused on the lobbies with their marble floors, columns and walls; the monumental stairs and elevator with highly decorative grillwork; and it included a historic courtroom and the double height Register of Probate space. In many cases where woodwork could not be reused it was reproduced and replaced. The marble is entirely original with just a few placed that needed repair. Light fixtures were refurbished to accept energy efficient light bulbs.
The east wing waiting area features an original skylight that was moved from elsewhere in the building. This preservation award is given specifically to the restoration of the historic building, but the new construction can’t go without mention. The addition flows seamlessly through the interior spaces with equally high quality finishes throughout. The exterior is unapologetically contemporary with design and materials that carefully address the scale and motif of the original building and the surrounding court buildings.
We celebrate this renovation with a Historic Salem Preservation Award, presented to Perry Dean Rogers Partners Architects.