Friday, October 15, 2010

National Alliance of Heritage Areas Meets in Salem. Scenic Byway Community Meetings Scheduled, Salem Partnership Meeting and Gordon College Lectures


Alliance of National Heritage Areas Visits Essex County

During much of this past week, Essex Heritage has been sharing the wonderful resources of this region with three-dozen of so quests from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas. These delegates who represent the leadership of many of the other Heritage Areas in the country are here in Essex County for the fall quarterly meeting of the Alliance. They scheduled this visit here to this region and particularly to Salem at this time to flavor a bit of what visitors flock to this region in October to share, Haunted Happenings and Halloween, The visit began officially on Tuesday evening when the National Park Service welcomed the delegation to a warm opening reception on board the chilly Friendship at the Salem Maritime Historic Site. That event was quickly followed by a presentation on Wednesday morning at the Regional Visitor Center in the converted Salem Armory that the National Park Service shares with the Peabody Essex Museum. That session included a viewing of the NPS welcoming film “Where Past is Present” shown several times each day at the center. It has been awhile since I have viewed that film about the history of this region, and it was good to see the chronicle again. For those of you who have never viewed the film, it is worth a trip to Salem to see the film that depicts so much of the regional history we have set out to help preserve.

After the film showing and an orientation to the upcoming session, the delegates boarded a bus and wound there way north for a “bus window” view of the charming, retail oriented historic seaport of Newburyport. From there the bus headed into Newbury and I along with the others on the tour enjoyed a most informative tour of the Spenser-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury. The tour at that site was conducted by Bethany Groff of Historic New England that manages the house and grounds at the farm. The property features a seventeenth century manor house built as the country seat of a wealthy Newburyport merchant of that time. In addition to the historic house, during a visit one can explore nature trails, view farm animals or share a picnic lunch on the spacious pleasant grounds. The farm is a wonderful spot for family outings and Historic New England has worked hard to make the visit an interactive experience for the entire family. This was my first ever visit to this location and I was most impressed with the experience and I would certainly recommend the site for a visit..

After the visit to the Newbury farm, I left the formal tour to return to our office, but I rejoined the group later in Salem. The group went on from Newbury to visit other regional attractions along the planned Essex Heritage Scenic Byway. Essex Heritage is particularly indebted to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, H. A. Burnham Boat Yard, and Woodman’s where a truly New England lunch of their famous and delicious sea food was enjoyed. In the afternoon the tour continued to the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, and the Cape Pond Ice Company. The tour returned to Salem in time before the end of the day for a visit to the Yin Yu Tang house at the world famous Peabody-Essex Museum.

On Thursday the group spent that day on Alliance related issues at meetings all day at the Hawthorne Hotel, and then finished their stay in Salem with a late afternoon visit to the Salem Witch Museum that is so popular at this time of year, and a walking tour of Salem led by the inaugural Essex Heritage Hero award winner, Jim Mc Allister. Essex Heritage is indebted to all who made this visit a special one for our contemporaries from across the country, and we expect that they all took the flavor of Salem at Halloween back to their respective Heritage Areas,

Essex Heritage Community Planning Meetings for Scenic Byway

Essex Heritage has announced that the first public forums that will be held in all thirteen communities that make up the Scenic byway have been scheduled for October and November 2010. The forums that will held from late October 2010 through January 31, 2011 are designed to allow the public an opportunity to learn how the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway can offer the best possible traveler experience while enhancing the quality of life for residents along the eighty-five mile costal route. The byway that has been funded through grant funding from the National Scenic Byway program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is currently developing a corridor management plan for the byway. Anchored by the gateway cities of Lynn and Newburyport, the byway will pass through Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester-By-The Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley and Newbury. The initial meeting scheduled for October and November will be held on the following dates and locations.

  • Thursday, October 21, 2010……….Lynn City Hall, Room 302
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2010….Rockport Public Library, Brenner Room
  • Thursday, November 18, 2010……Gloucester City Hall, Kyrouz Auditorium
  • Tuesday, November 30, 2010……..Salem City Hall Annex, 3rd Floor.

For more information on the public meetings and the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway please visit www.essexheritage,org/scenicbyways.

Salem Partnership Holds Monthly Meeting with Senator Fred Berry

Each month the Salem Partnership conducts a meeting of all of its board members to keep them current on major issues, such as the courthouse construction, the Parking Garage status and waterfront activities. This months meeting scheduled for this morning has been moved from the usual location at the Salem Five Bank Community Room to the Hawthorne Hotel in anticipation of a large crowd who will attend to hear an update from the State Senate’s majority leader, Senator Fred Berry. In a subsequent posting I will provide a more detailed report of his presentation.

The Salem Partnership has also announced well in advance of the event that will serve as the annual meeting for 2011 will be scaled back a bit. The meeting will be held on May 11, 2011 and will feature a very short business meeting and a presentation from former North Shore resident and current Publisher of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, David Shribman. Shribman is a former Washington Bureau Chief of the Boston Globe, and prepares a series of current columns for the Salem News. The scaled back event will be held at the Phillips Library at the PEM, and is offered as no new Officers or Trustees need to be elected in 2011 and the meeting in 2012 will be a bit grander as the community based organization will celebrate a quarter of a century of partnership with the City of Salem that year. The Salem Partnership was the precursor organization of the Essex National Heritage Commission, and Annie Harris and I continue to serve the Salem partnership on its Board of Trustees.

Gordon College to Host Lectures in Salem

One of our neighbors here in Salem is about to begin a lecture series. Gordon College Institute for Public History has recently announced the inaugural season of a new lecture series at Salem’s historic Old Town Hall. The series will begin on Thursday, November 19, 2010 and will, feature a presentation by Richard Francis, who will present material on Judge Sewall who presided over the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The series will continue on the third Thursday of each month through May 2011. Subscriptions and individual tickets can be purchased online at

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

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