128 Derby Street

A view down Bentley Street in Salem after a heavy snowfall.
Bentley Street looking south towards the old fire house.

Courtesy of Joseph Kulik

This former firehouse at the corner of Derby and Bentley Streets was a meeting place for several of Salem's Polish organizations between the 1920s and the time it burned down in the 1960s. These groups reflected different time periods and generational experiences in Polish Salem.

Some of the organizations that used the building included the Polish Falcons in the early 1920s, the Chopin Choral Society in the later 1920s and 1930s, and veterans’ groups, including the Polish Legion of American Veterans, starting in the 1940s.

A brass plaque mounted in granite.

Courtesy of Cathy Stanton

After the firehouse burned, the lot remained empty for several years. Then, in February of 1974, former city councilor and Polish community leader Louis Swiniuch died at the age of 60. His son Richard had just been elected to his own first term on the city council, and Richard found it sad that his father was not there to see his son’s inauguration into the city’s political world.

One of Richard’s first projects as a city councilor, along with others who had served with his father for many years, was to turn the former firehouse site into a small park dedicated to Louis Swiniuch. Tourists and locals often stop to enjoy the beautifully landscaped spot on the corner of Bentley and Derby Streets.

Part of a series of articles titled Salem's Polish Community.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Last updated: August 27, 2021