Our Annual Meeting on Friday was a fun and well-attended event with plenty of Flying Saucer pizza to go around! We'd like to thank our outgoing President Jennifer Firth for her hard work and dedication to the organization, and congratulate our new President, Tim Jenkins. We'd also like to extend a warm welcome to our seven new board members and introduce you all to this talented bunch:
Polly Wilbert has been actively involved in neighborhood and community issues since her 1981 move to South Salem. She is a long-time member of the South Salem Neighborhood Association and has been president since November 2016. She also serves on the Salem State University Neighborhood Advisory Committee and as a member of the City Council’s LORAX Task Force, which has drafted a municipal ordinance in support of Salem’s urban forest.
She helped found the Alliance of Salem Neighborhood Associations to foster communication on city issues among Salem’s neighborhoods. She is a member of the Friends of Greenlawn, assisting with historical research on and tours of Salem’s 1807 cemetery and participating in preservation advocacy and fundraising for the Dickson Memorial Chapel at Greenlawn.
During her business career, Polly was on the administrative staffs of several Boston investment firms. She is a gardener and a long-time collector of art and antiques. As a great-granddaughter of a founder of America’s leading 19th-century manufacturer of majolica -- Griffen, Smith & Hill -- she is a collector of that and other historic ceramics.
Gary R. Leach recently retired as the senior vice president and group head of the Community Development Lending business line for Eastern Bank. In that capacity he oversaw Eastern’s tax credit investment business ( for historic, LIHTC and New Market tax credits) as well as the financing of non-profit business enterprises and affordable housing, including tax exempt bond financing. He served Eastern Bank as a manager in the commercial banking business from 1997 to 2018.
Prior to joining Eastern Bank, Gary’s forty-plus year real estate finance career included assignments at Fleet Bank, Bank of New England and the First National Bank of Chicago.
Gary earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Suffolk University and a Master of Arts degree in Urban Studies from Loyola University, Chicago.
Gary is a board member and past President of the North Shore Community Development Coalition and a member and past President of the Real Estate Finance Association of the Greater Boston Board of Realtors. He is also a member of the Urban Land Institute. Gary is a founding member of the Boston Chapter of the Lambda Alpha International Land Economics Society and its Regional Vice President for the Eastern US.
Barbara Cleary is the Principal of Cleary Advisors, which provides consulting services regarding real estate financing to non-profit organizations. The firm’s clients include health care organizations, educational instititutions, YMCAs, child care providers, and developers of commercial real estate, among others.
She is responsible for arranging and negotiating the terms debt, equity, public and quasi-public funds, and especially New Markets and Historic Tax Credits. She was previously President of Affirmative Investments, a social investing firm based in Boston.
Barbara has a Masters of Art History and Museum Practice and her interest in historic architecture and decorative arts dates from her previous work at Historic Deerfield and Historic New England. She is a past President of Historic Salem and was recipient of Historic Salem’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gavin Gardner is the Chief of Resources for Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites. He was born in Maryland, moved out west for college, then began a career as an archeologist for the National Park Service, working at parks in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, and Washington. His adventures have included finding prehistoric pueblos at the Grand Canyon, protecting historic Spanish missions and the pueblos they exploited in New Mexico, recording gold rush sites in Alaska, repairing cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and possibly locating the cremated remains of Marlon Brando in Death Valley. He met his wife in Death Valley, they added two children in New Mexico, then moved to Massachusetts, even though he strongly dislikes winter.
Gavin worked at the Springfield Armory, home to the second largest collection of firearms in the world, then moved to Salem national park, where he is Chief of Resources for Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites. He has worked to build a resource management division tasked with preserving and protecting the park's amazing history, museum collection, and natural resources. He has no idea when the Friendship will return.
David Henry is an investment professional with over 35 years of experience. David has an MBA from the University of Houston and a BBA from University of Cincinnati. He is a member of Certified Financial Advisor and has held numerous roles within the CFA Society of Boston.
He has served in a client relationship / business development role for P/E Investments. He was Chief Investment Officer for the Family Office of the late Richard Egan, founder of EMC. He has been an investment consultant with the Wellesley Group, and advisor for the CCC Alliance, a Family Office collaborative. He has also worked for John Hancock, The Boston Company & Interactive Data.
Mr. Henry is active in his community. David recently joined Essex County Community Foundation Investment Committee. He volunteers with the Career Collaborative, a non profit that assists unemployed and under-employed individuals develop career skills. He is a board member of Northeast ARC. In the past, Mr. Henry served on Immaculate Conception Finance Committee and Parish Council. He was also an Assistant Scout Master for Troop 24. Mr. Henry is a previous board member, Treasurer, and President of HSI and facilitated the grant for the original renovation of the Bowditch House. He considers his greatest accomplishment to be when he and his wife won for costume at the HSI Black and White ball.
Walter Herbert has been a career banker in both the Corporate and Investment areas for 35+ years and has developed networks with corporations, developers and investors on both a business and social level. In working with Swampscott Historical Society and as a Swampscott Town Meeting member he contributed to solving real estate development and funding issues in a collaborative environment. Since moving to Salem, he has joined Historic Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Athenaeum, the Pickering House Trust, and the House of Seven Gables. Learning about their missions has made him want to become more actively involved in Salem. He has restored historic buildings that include and Edwardian building at 110 Burrill Street in Swampscott and a Second Period building at 105R North Street in Salem. He is also active in the Harvard Club of Boston, the Harvard Varsity Club and St. John’s Prep Alumni Association.
Michael Selbst has been living-in and restoring old houses his entire adult life. He started restoring his first antique house when he was 24, and hasn’t stopped since. He was on a number of local boards in Boston and now is on the board of Hamilton Hall, chairing the building committee. He has been a resident of Salem since 2014. Michael received a Bachelors degree in Economics as well as a Masters of Business Administration, both from Cornell University. He lives in Salem with his partner Brad on Chestnut Street in their most recent old house. He is a realtor with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, specializing in Boston and the North Shore. Michael is also known for his enthusiasm and welcoming nature, which will be an asset to any project in which he is involved.
Ever since the Peabody Essex Museum revealed in December of 2017 that the Phillips Library collection would not be returning to its home in Salem, the two historic buildings that housed the collection until 2011 have been a recurring topic of public and private conversation in Salem.
The Daland House was built in 1851 as a residence for wealthy Salem merchant John Tucker Daland. The Daland family lived there until 1885, when the house was acquired by the Essex Institute. Plummer Hall was built in 1857 for the Salem Athenaeum and was purchased by the Essex Institute in 1906 when the Athenaeum moved to its current home on Essex Street. In 1907, the Essex Institute built a connector between Plummer Hall and Daland House. Plummer Hall became home to Essex Institute museum galleries and administrative offices, and Daland housed the James Duncan Phillips Research Library. In 1992, the Essex Institute merged with the Peabody Museum to become the Peabody Essex Museum, but Plummer and Daland retained the Phillips Library collection until that collection was removed to Peabody in 2011, pending renovations to the buildings.
At the last Salem Historical Commission meeting, it came to the attention of everyone present that Plummer Hall and Daland House, along with the Gardner-Pingree House (1804-05), the Crowninshield-Bentley House (1727), the Andrew-Safford House (1818-19), the John Ward House (1684), the Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop (1830), and the Quaker Meeting House (with framing from Salem’s first Quaker meetinghouse, c. 1688), all currently owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, actually constitute a state and nationally designated historic district. The Essex Institute Historic District was listed as a National Register District in June of 1972 and as a Massachusetts Historic Landmark in July of 1972.
Historic Salem supports the Salem Historical Commission’s recommendation to the PEM to treat any changes to the area more holistically.
Are you wondering what will be built in that now empty lot on Washington Street, across the street from the Post Office?
It is a big project that will really define what that part of downtown Salem looks like. The project is in the Salem Redevelopment Authority boundary, which means that the project must be reviewed by the Design Review Board. Three years ago the project went through an intense round of design review. We recall that the project went through at least four meetings where the Board would give feedback and the architect and developer would return the following month with changes. The design that was finally approved is appropriately contemporary. There is a lot of visual interest, with articulation of the windows, balconies, porches and cornice lines. It looks three dimensional and unique, relating to the shape and slope of the site.
This January 1st was the official start of a new city-wide resolution – we will all be bringing our own bags to the store. This step forward in increasing awareness of what we are throwing away makes me think back to a talk given by my favorite preservation economist (what, you don’t have a favorite?). In our 2015 “Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball” conference Donovan Rypkema stated the following:
“Every time a little 2200 sf house…would have been rehabilitated instead of raized…that would have more environmental impact…then all of the plastic bags that 440 people would have used in their lifetime.”
Historic Salem, Incorporated (HSI) joins the Salem community in its concern over the Peabody Essex Museum’s (PEM) plans to remove the Phillips Library Collection and other historic collections to Rowley. We appreciate PEM's intent to improve conservation and safe storage. However, these papers, books and objects inform Salem’s unique local history as well as our national heritage and should be accessible to the public in a Salem location. We encourage the PEM to develop strategies to integrate the historic collections into programming and education, to tell of Salem’s extraordinary contribution to art, culture and science.
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.