October 25, 2022

Congressman Moulton & Senator Markey Announce Legislation to Redesignate Salem Maritime National Historic Site as a National Historical Park

 Salem, Mass.– Congressman Seth Moulton and Senator Edward J. Markey are introducing legislation that would redesignate the Salem Maritime National Historic Site as the Salem Maritime National Historical Park.
Salem Maritime was established in 1938 as the first National Historic Site to be included in the National Park System.  Redesignating the site as a National Historical Park will help to attract more visitors to Salem and allow the National Park Service to more easily obtain funding for exhibits and signage.  

“Salem Maritime contains more than a single historical feature. In fact, the stories at Salem Maritime span more than four centuries of American History with recent scholarship uncovering significant connections related to slavery, emancipation, Black activism, and entrepreneurship,” said Congressman Moulton. “Increasing visitation to Salem Maritime is important to supporting Salem's tourism economy, especially since the historical themes of Salem Maritime encourage people to visit beyond just the month of October.”  
“Salem Maritime is one of the Commonwealth’s key historical landmarks—it documents American slavery, maritime history, and the fight for freedom,” said Senator Markey. “Redesignating Salem Maritime as a National Historical Park will reflect its place in our nation’s history, preserve its many resources, and help bring more visitors in the future to learn from Salem’s past. This will improve our cultural and historical understanding and bolster Massachusetts’s tourism economy. By re-designating and supporting this park, we can support Black voices and tell Salem’s full story.”
“Historical parks are perceived by the public as more interesting and significant,” said Annie Harris, CEO of Essex Heritage, the regional non-profit that partners with the National Park Service on programs and visitor services in Salem and Saugus. “Paul DePrey, the former superintendent at Salem Maritime, frequently stated that national historic sites, which were redesignated as national historical parks, typically experienced a 20-25% increase in visitation.”  
“Changing the name of Salem Maritime fits with our goal to raise the profile of Salem’s important maritime history – especially as the 400th anniversary of Salem’s founding and the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution will both be occurring in 2026,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. “The city has applied for funding to improve Fort Pickering and Fort Lee and provide new interpretive information of these very important historical sites.”  
The site currently encompasses nine acres of land and twelve historic structures on Salem harbor. Its downtown visitor center introduces thousands of visitors to Salem and to the Essex National Heritage Area. This bill would redraw the boundary of Salem Maritime to include this visitor center.
The legislation would also require that the Secretary of the Interior conduct a Special Resource Study of sites and resources associated with maritime history and coastal defense in Salem and vicinity. This may provide the city with additional federal grant funding in the future. 
 “Salem’s role in the military history of our nation is fascinating,” added Congressman Moulton. “From the first muster in 1636 to the significant role Salem and adjacent communities played in the American Revolution, there is a great deal of history that is not well as known.”