Welcome to Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The site was established in 1938 to preserve the wharves and historic buildings associated with Salem's contributions to the economic development of the young United States.
From its founding in 1626 through the late 19th century, Salem looked to the sea for its livelihood. The city´s peak years came between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, when Salem's shipbuilders, merchants and mariners opened new ports of trade for America in Asia and other parts of the world. The wealth they created boosted the economy of the new nation and made Salem the sixth largest city in America in 1790.
Today you can recall Salem's maritime past by visiting the historic buildings and replica tall ship at the site, or walk down the three historic wharves. For more information about tours and our free orientation film, contact a park ranger at the Orientation Center.
Whereas, certain lands and structures in Salem, Massachusetts, including Derby Wharf, the Derby House, and the Custom House, by reason of their relationship to the maritime history of New England and the United States, I...do hereby designate the following described lands, with the structures standing thereon, to be a national historic site..." - Secretarial Order by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, March 17, 1938
Points of Interest
1. Orientation Center
A restored c. 1805 warehouse at the head of Central Wharf is now an information center for the park.
2. Central Wharf
One of nearly fifty wharves that once extended into Salem's harbor.
3. Custom House
U.S. Customs Service agents regulated port activities and collected customs duties here. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne was employed here from 1846-1849. The Public Stores is at the rear of the Custom House.
4. Scale House
A storage area for large portable scales and other weighing equipment used by customs officers for weighing ship's cargoes on the wharves.
5. Hawkes House
Begun in 1780 by merchant Elias Hasket Derby. Later completed by ship builder Benjamin Hawkes.
6. Derby House
The home of prosperous merchant Elias Hasket Derby. Built in 1762, it is the oldest standing brick house in Salem.
7. West India Goods Store
Goods such as sugar, tea, spices, china, and textiles from ports around the world were retailed here.
8. St. Joseph Hall
Served as a social, cultural, and religious center for Polish immigrants from 1909 to the 1980s.
9. Narbonne House
Built in 1675, this was the home for many tradesmen and widows who supported Salem's maritime industry.
10. Derby Wharf
Built in 1762 and extended in 1806, Derby Wharf became Salem's longest wharf and was the center of Elias Derby's trading empire in the late 1700s.
11. Friendship of Salem
A replica of an East Indiaman cargo ship built in Salem in 1797.
12. Pedrick Store House
A waterfront warehouse originally built in 1770 in Marblehead, Massachusetts and moved here in 2004.
13. Derby Wharf Light
Built in 1871 to complete the system of navigational aids in Salem Harbor.