National Park Service

State of the Park Reports

State of the Park Report for Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Executive Summary

The Friendship of Salem
The Friendship of Salem

The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of national parks for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. NPS Management Policies (2006) state that "The Service will also strive to ensure that park resources and values are passed on to future generations in a condition that is as good as, or better than, the conditions that exist today."

As part of the stewardship of national parks for the American people, the NPS has begun to develop State of the Park reports to assess the overall status and trends of each park's resources. The NPS will use this information to improve park priority setting and to synthesize and communicate complex park condition information to the public in a clear and simple way.

The purpose of this State of the Park report for Salem Maritime National Historic Site is to:

  1. Provide to visitors and the American public a snapshot of the status and trend in the condition of a park's priority resources and values;
  2. Summarize and communicate complex scientific, scholarly, and park operations factual information and expert opinion using non-technical language and a visual format;
  3. Highlight park stewardship activities and accomplishments to maintain or improve the State of the Park;
  4. Identify key issues and challenges facing the park to help inform park management planning.

Click to expand and contract panels. Expand All / Collapse All

The purpose of Salem Maritime National Historic Site is to preserve and interpret the history and resources along the waterfront of Salem, Massachusetts, that illustrate the nation's maritime history and its industrial evolution from the colonial period to the 20th century.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site is significant because:

  • It was designated by the Secretary of Interiors in 1938 as the first National Historic Site in the United States.
  • The collection of historic buildings, wharves, lighthouse, and replica tall ship tell the saga of Salem's international tall ship trade and its role in advancing America's economic independence after the Revolutionary War.
  • It communicates the relationship of the land to the waterfront, maritime history, Salem Sound, and beyond.
  • Represents the intersection of a mercantile enterprise, governmental development, and maritime trade in the midst of a growing cosmopolitan community.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne used his work experiences at the Custom House in the introduction to his famous novel The Scarlet Letter.

The list below provides examples of stewardship activities and accomplishments by park staff and partners to maintain or improve the condition of priority park resources and values for this and future generations:

Natural Resources

  • Pepperweed removal on Derby Wharf

Cultural Resources

  • Prepare Cultural Landscape Report
  • Derby House Archeological Investigation
  • Conservation of Custom House eagle
  • Re-cataloging park library to increase access
  • National Registry listing development

Visitor Experience

  • Increased opportunities for hands-on activities by visitors
  • Youth sign-making program
  • New wayside panels for SAMA
  • Increased number of staff who conduct educational programs
  • Sailed the Friendship of Salem to New York City. Sixteen diverse interns with the Student Intern Intake Program (SCIP) participated
  • Friendship of Salem was used to train 25 U.S. Navy sailors in how to sail a tall ship
  • New film at Visitor Center
  • Electronic/digital information board at Visitor Center
  • Walking tours provided to tell about Nathaniel Hawthorne, architectural talks
  • Volunteers in Parks program: 23,084 hours contributed by volunteers at SAMA and SAIR
  • New wayside exhibits were designed with QR (Quick Response) codes to allow visitors to access additional content about the exhibits via their smart phones
  • The Visitor Center showcased temporary exhibits from Essex National Heritage Area sites that encourage visitors to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of local coastlines and the richness of our historic heritage
  • The Visitor Center was nominated by the Salem Chamber of Commerce for a Salem Community Service Award

Park Infrastructure

  • Repaired exterior brick walls of Visitor Center
  • Re-pointed exterior of Derby House
  • Friendship hull repair
  • Pedrick Store House rehabilitation on Derby Wharf
  • Derby House carpet & interior painting
  • Hawkes House rehabilitation (design component has been initiated)
  • Replaced Public Stores fence & Narbonne House fence
  • Replaced West India Goods Store windows
  • Painted exterior of Narbonne House & WIGS
  • Replaced Public Stores & Narbonne House boardwalks (Green Product)
  • Custom House portico and cupola restored
  • Future Leaders Program (40 youth positions)—recruiting local youth
  • Greening of site: Use reel mowers and battery powered weed-trimmers to maintain building area grounds
  • Continually repaired path and landscape erosion on Derby Wharf
  • Completed boardwalk around the Narbonne House
  • Maintained lawns, beaches, and other elements of the cultural landscape
  • Annual and comprehensive condition assessments are conducted for buildings and utilities

Introduction

In preparation for the 100th anniversary celebration of the National Park Service in 2016, it is a great honor for Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site to have been selected as the nation's first historic sites to complete a State of the Park Report. To date, only a select collection of natural resource-based national parks have completed this exercise. In contrast, Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites are small, urban national parks with predominately cultural and historical significance. The parks recently worked with a variety of experts in the fields of natural and cultural resources, interpretation, law enforcement, and facility management to develop a set of baseline assessments that can now serve as a model for other historical and cultural-oriented national parks across the country.

In this time of accelerated change and increasing fiscal challenges, our ability to plan ahead necessitates that we have objective baseline data to assess our park operations and to develop articulated plans to address the multifaceted needs of the parks. Global climate change, rising sea levels, and an increase in the frequency and severity of storms are forcing us to envision new ways of managing and protecting our park resources. Innovations in information technology and a streamlining of government procedures are bringing broad changes to our administrative and management systems. Fiscal constraints, changing visitor demographics, and a need to diversify our workforce are all ushering in complex challenges for our parks as we enter our second century. The State of the Park Report will help us strategically assess our operations, plan for the future, and clearly communicate current park conditions to the public.

Partnerships

Salem Maritime National Historic Site has a long history of positive, productive partnerships that assisted with the original creation and development of the park over the last 75 years. Additional federal directives encourage the park to explore mutually beneficial partnerships to further our agency's mission and the park programs, where and when appropriate. While we recognize the beneficial contributions from our existing partnerships, we must also reassess the role, value and appropriateness of our partnerships within the context of our agency's primary mission and the enabling legislation of the park. Partnerships with local governments, civic institutions, non-profits and citizens may be a critical component of the long-term strategy to maintain the existing portfolio of park assets.

Wharves /Waterfront Rehabilitation and Protection

The 18th-century wharves are the heart of Salem Maritime NHS. As visitors stroll the wharves (Derby, Hatches, Central, & Tuckers Wharf), they enjoy panoramic views of Salem Harbor with waves splashing on an adjacent beach and can explore our replica tall-ship Friendship of Salem. However, Derby Wharf is being eroded away by rising sea levels, higher tides, and more frequent severe storms. We must consider the possibility that natural forces will ultimately submerge this historic wharf and thus require new ways of "protecting, preserving and allowing for the enjoyment thereof." This is one of the park's greatest challenges.

Tall-ship Friendship of Salem

Created in 1997 as a tall-ship exhibit with the capability to sail, Friendship of Salem is a replica of a 1797 three-masted cargo ship from Salem that was lost to the British in the War of 1812. The annual cost to maintain Friendship is very high. Her status as a modern replica competes for limited funding with the large number of original historic assets in the park. Management has continually evaluated the function of Friendship over her fifteen-year existence and has been forced to ask numerous questions about her role in the park due to the high cost of upkeep.

National Park Service Regional Visitor Center

Salem Maritime has a large National Park Service Regional Visitor Center in downtown Salem that is approximately a half-mile from the official park boundary, including the waterfront, wharves and Friendship. Surrounded by privately-owned buildings and a municipal parking garage, this facility is physically removed from the park and creates a disconnected feeling for both our visitors and employees. An existing historic building, located within the park boundary and directly opposite the park's historic wharves and buildings, also serves as a traditional visitor center. In the current fiscal climate it will be difficult to sustain staff and maintain two visitor centers.

Park Planning

Salem Maritime NHS is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but has never completed a comprehensive park plan to define its mission, roles, and priorities. In addition, the park is part of a complex urban environment within the greater Boston metropolitan area that creates significant demands on our available resources and calls for a comprehensive plan to provide guidance. A comprehensive park plan, referred to as a Foundation Document and its associated Resource Stewardship Strategy are crucial to filling this planning deficiency. These plans will define and update our mission, roles, and priorities to serve the visitors and protect the park in the 21st century.

The park has many significant resources to manage, protect, preserve and interpret. Our historic resources and facilities include the Custom House, Narbonne House, Hawkes House, Derby House, West India Goods Store, Pedricks Storehouse, Derby Wharf, Central Wharf and Derby Lighthouse, as well as museum collections, archives, libraries, and cultural landscapes. Our proximity to the ocean and the historic significant of our waterfront resources require that we devote attention to monitoring and protecting the natural resources of the park; including the land, water, and air resources surrounding us. In order to assess all these resources and their competing needs, we must develop these comprehensive management plans to manage, monitor, mitigate, protect, preserve and interpret these resources.

Conclusion

The Centennial celebration in 2016 is a time for us to reassess how well we have met the mandates of our mission to protect, preserve and provide for the enjoyment of these nationally significant resources along the North Shore. In the past, management did not have a fully objective set of metrics that could be applied consistently to all of the National Parks across the country to evaluate their conditions. The State of the Park process provides us with clear, convenient and measureable metrics for the first time.

Summary Table

The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Priority Resource or Value Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Natural Resources
Air Quality Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. For 2005–2009, estimated values for ozone and nitrogen and sulfur wet deposition in the historic site warrant significant concern based on NPS Air Resource Division benchmarks. Estimated average visibility warrants moderate concern for 2005–2009. Learn more »
Water Quality Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Enterococci bacteria levels in the outflow from the Derby Wharf storm drain following rain events routinely exceed the EPA standard. Learn more »
Shoreline / Waterfront Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is deteriorating; low confidence in the assessment. Sea level has risen by 22.6 cm (10 inches) during the 86-year record for the NOAA tide gauge at Boston, MA, and sea level rise is projected to accelerate in the future. Sea level along the North Atlantic coast of U.S. is rising at a faster rate than elsewhere along the U.S. coast. Learn more »
Cultural Resources
Archeological Resources Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. 86% of listed archaeological sites (57 of 66) are in good condition. All sites in the park are considered stable, although there are many unevaluated sites. Knowledge of date ranges/activities associated with archaeological sites is high. Learn more »
Cultural Anthropology and Ethnographic Resources Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The Polish community and its relationship to St. Joseph's Hall have been documented. An Ethnographic Overview and Assessment study to identify other social and ethnic groups related to the site is scheduled in the next two years. The relationships between the park's historic structures and the descendant community of shipping families will be part of the Ethnographic Overview and Assessment study. Learn more »
Cultural Landscapes Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. The Cultural Landscape has yet to be fully documented or evaluated. 0% of the landscape has appropriate use and treatment plan identified. Staff is currently working on developing a Cultural Landscape report to outline treatment plan and objectives. A Cultural Landscape Inventory has not been conducted. Learn more »
Historic Structures Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. 100% of structures have been evaluated and documented with National Register criteria. The park recently completed National Register nomination. 13 of 14 structures in LCS are in good condition. Historic structure reports need updating. Learn more »
History Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. A large body of existing scholarly research informs staff/management decisions in the absence of a general Historic Resource Study for the park. Knowledge of history is supplemented by Historic Structure Reports for assorted resources in park. National Register documentation for site properties is 100%. Learn more »
Museum Collections Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Collections are fully accessioned and catalogued. Some existing materials need to be reevaluated to assess whether or not they fit within the current Scope of Collections. Limited staff available for regular collections management. Learn more »
Visitor Experience
Number of Visitors Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; low confidence in the assessment. The total of 737,073 visitors to the park in 2011 is higher than that of 2009 (723,088) but lower than 2010 (806,506). The 2011 total is also lower than the 10-year average of 760,828 visitors for 2001–2010. Learn more »
Visitor Satisfaction Resource is in good condition; condition is deteriorating; medium confidence in the assessment. Based on the standard visitor satisfaction survey conducted each year, the percent of visitors satisfied (rating of "good" or "very good") in FY11 was almost 100%, up from 96% the previous year. Additionally, the FY11 satisfaction rate has increased over both the previous 5-year average (FY06–FY10) of 95% and the 10-year average (FY01–FY10) of 96%. Learn more »
Interpretive and Education Programs - Talks, Tours, and Special Events Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The park offers a full slate of formal interpretive programs, curriculum-based education programs and hosts large special events each year, including the Salem Maritime Festival and the City of Salem's 4th of July Celebration. Learn more »
Friendship of Salem Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Friendship of Salem, a reconstruction of a 171-foot three-masted Salem East Indiaman built in 1797, plays a fundamental role in the interpretation of the park's historic significance and allows visitors to see, touch, and feel a (replica) ship of the 18th-century global trade that brought goods, riches and prominence to Salem and the United States. Park staff, volunteers, and contractors perform maintenance and repair work, some of which has had to be deferred, to correct deteriorating wood in her hull and framing components and to correct deficiencies in the ship's rigging and its docking and mooring facilities. Learn more »
Interpretive Media - Brochures, Exhibits, Signs, and Website Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. All waysides were updated and replaced in 2011. Exhibits are in a variety of conditions ranging from new to old, good physical condition to needs attention. Print media is outdated and being gradually phased out in favor of digital media. Unigrid is current and regularly distributed. Website contains a high volume of historic/cultural content and visitor information, but needs better organization and usability upgrades. Learn more »
Accessibility Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Approximately half of the park's public use buildings (primarily historic structures) are not ADA compliant. Two of the three park orientation films are captioned, but reliability of captioning system is a regular issue for staff. Visual accommodations for visitors are limited to park audio tour and large-print Unigrid. Multi-lingual interpretive resources are extremely limited to non-existent. Learn more »
Safety Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Annual recordable law enforcement and medical incidents are consistently low (1 medical, less than 12 criminal incidents in 2012). Park coordinates regularly with Salem PD and FD for cooperative response and patrol. Learn more »
Partnerships Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Park maintains ample, regular partnerships with the Essex National Heritage Area, Salem School District, Salem State University, City of Salem, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Destination Salem, Schooner Fame, and Salem PD/FD. Learn more »
Park Infrastructure
Overall Facility Condition Index Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. The overall Facility Condition Index for 42 assets in 2012 is 0.061, which is Good based on industry and NPS standards. Learn more »
Energy Consumption Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Energy usage (39,118 BTUs per gross square footage of buildings) in 2012 was 27% lower than the average for the previous 4 years. Learn more »
Water Consumption Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is deteriorating; high confidence in the assessment. The park took over responsibility for paying for water consumption at the Visitor Center in Salem in FY 2012, which resulted in a 93% increase in water consumption compared to the 4-year average for 2008–2011 Learn more »
Park Carbon Footprint Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. SAMA belongs to a network of parks nationwide that are putting climate friendly behavior at the forefront of sustainability planning. The Park is developing a climate action plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the park by 2016. Park emissions during the baseline year were 253 MTCO2E, roughly equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of 46 households each year. Learn more »

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: June 25, 2014 Contact Webmaster