Case Study: Salem Jail, Massachusetts

The Jail and Jail Keeper’s House following rehabilitation.
The former Salem Jail complex has been redeveloped to create twenty-three housing units and a popular restaurant located on the ground floor of the jail, while retaining much of the jail’s historic character. The jail complex included a jail keeper's house, a carriage house, and the original jail building constructed in 1813 and expanded in 1884. The Salem Jail was the oldest jail facility in continuous operation in the U.S. and was declared unfit for human habitation in 1991. It was closed and abandoned for nearly 20 years.
Top: The interior of the 'Great Escape' Restaurant. Below: An apartment unit in the Jail Keeper's House and the interior of the jail before the project began.
Old Salem Ventures has taken this vacant, deteriorated complex of buildings and transformed it into a vital part of the town. The $10.5 million adaptive reuse project was accomplished in a surprisingly short period of time - only 12 months - using both federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits. All of the residential units were instantly leased upon completion and the restaurant is popular with both tourists and Salem residents. The highly successful project received a 'Timmy Award' from the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association for the Best Mixed Income or Market Rate Residential Category.

Last updated: March 7, 2023