The City of Salem, in conjunction with Destination Salem and partners in the community that include local historians, representatives from the National Park Service, city government, and business owners, have begun a strategic revisioning of the Salem Heritage Trail. This project will include repainting the line in gold and developing interpretation of heritage sites along the historic trail. The project is anticipated to conclude in late 2023.
“We would like the Salem Heritage Trail to be thoughtful, authentic and accurate,” said Kate Fox, Executive Director of Destination Salem. “The Trail is an excellent way to introduce visitors and residents to the many layers of Salem’s rich history and improve and build on the trail’s original goal: to help people learn about and experience Salem.”
The Salem Heritage Trail guides visitors from around the corner and around the world through more than 400 years of Salem history. The themes of the trail will bridge connections from the land’s earliest settlement to the Salem we see today with focuses on local Indigenous Peoples, Colonial Salem and the Witch Trials, the Great Age of Sail, Industrial Heritage, Abolitionism and African American Stories, Immigrant Experiences, Religious Diversity, and Contemporary Salem.
“Salem’s Heritage Trail guides visitors and residents through key locations related to our community’s unique history,” said Kimberley Driscoll, Mayor of Salem. “The vision for the new Heritage Trail incorporates a more inclusive approach to that goal, reflecting stories, people, and places from too frequently overlooked parts of Salem’s history. The new Trail will better relate the history behind the important locations along the trail. I am grateful to the City staff, community partners, and members of the City Council who have worked to advance this reimagining of this important City asset.”
The trail route will remain as it has been since it was first painted in the 1980s, but it will be moved from Orange Street to Little Hawthorne Boulevard between Essex and Derby Streets. The line, formerly painted in red to elicit the brick lines of Boston’s Freedom Trail, will be painted in gold, a color that can be found in the city seal and hints at Salem’s history in the spice trade. A new website has been created for the trail, and a mobile app that will provide interpretation of significant sites along the trail is in development. Salem Heritage Trail sites will eventually have signage with QR codes to allow visitors to easily access the interpretation.
“The new Heritage Trail will allow users to experience a more inclusive and authentic representation of Salem’s rich and diverse history,” said Ty Hapworth, Councillor At Large, City of Salem. “The standards for signage that are being developed will guide the research and placement of additional historic markers. It’s exciting that our future will see the stories of Salem’s indigenous, African American and immigrant communities interconnected with our 400- year story.”
The Salem Heritage Trail planning committee has identified 10 sites to launch the new trail. These include Salem Maritime National Historic Site, The House of the Seven Gables, Charlotte Forten Park, Derby Square, the Salem Witch Museum, East India Marine Hall, The Witch House, Charter Street Cemetery, Salem Common, and the Witch Dungeon. As part of the planning process, criteria has been established for additional sites to be added to the trail. Destination Salem has commissioned MuseumTastic to assist researching site histories and develop the new Salem Heritage Trail icons and signage.
Currently, the Heritage Trail working group, led by Destination Salem, is working through the municipal approval process. In addition, the city has engaged the Massachusetts Office on Disability to ensure that the new trail complies with ADA (American with Disabilities Act) standards wherever possible. The trail is temporarily painted in dotted lines as a placeholder for the final painting anticipated for the end of the summer.
To follow the progress of the new Heritage Trail, please visit: www.salemheritagetrail.org
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