Frame Up! On Derby Wharf, September 15 and 16

Workers reassembling the frames on the ground.
NPS staff and volunteers reassembling the frames in preparation of raising them into position

NPS photo

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News Release Date: September 4, 2008

Contact: Emily Murphy, 978-740-1691

An important stage in the relocation of Pedrick Store House on Derby Wharf at Salem Maritime National Historic Site will take place next week as the frame of the building is raised into place. “A lot of people who were instrumental very early in the process of getting this building saved have been waiting a long time for this day,” says National Park Service Project Manager and Marblehead resident David Bittermann, “and we're happy that they will finally be able to see all their efforts coming to fruition.”

According to David Kayser, Museum Curator at Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the seven bents, which make up the bulk of the first floor framing, will be assembled and stacked in order on the floor platform, and raised into place starting in the middle and working towards the ends. The bents are currently being assembled by a team of National Park Service staffers from the Architectural Preservation Division with assistance from the firm Traditional Framers and some very skilled and dedicated volunteers. The bents are laid out on the floor platform, and on Monday, September 15, they will be raised into place. On Tuesday, September 16, the second floor framing will be put in place, and the ridgepole, forming the top of the roofline, will be set into position using temporary cradles. “This is very exciting for us,” says Bittermann, “although we frequently provide preservation repairs to timber frames in place we don’t often get the chance to raise timber frames.”

Pedrick Store House was built in 1771 on Marblehead Harbor, and is one of the last remaining examples of an eighteenth century warehouse in Massachusetts. During the disassembly five years ago, each individual original piece was carefully labeled and documented, but Bittermann points out that “reassembling the structure is much like putting together a giant puzzle; in which the task is to get everything to fit without further compromising the original material. That's much more difficult than building a new timber frame from scratch.”

Some of the best evidence for the reassembly of Pedrick Store House was actually found during the disassembly of the building. “The crawlspace beneath the structure was completely cleaned of more than a century's worth of flotsam,” states Bittermann, “which was also transported to Saugus where it could be laid out and thoroughly examined. In addition to the numerous artifacts associated with operation of the premises throughout its life were many discarded scraps from subsequent remodelings, including original floor planking, wall sheathing, timber frame components, and door and window fragments; all of which have been useful in guiding the accuracy of the restoration.”

For a history of Pedrick Store House, and photographs of its reconstruction on Derby Wharf, please visit Salem Maritime National Historic Site’s web site at


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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