SALEM MARITIME NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE


A Brief History: The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is located at 160 Derby Street, in Salem Massachusetts. With the purpose of promoting the maritime history and preserve historic Salem, the Salem Maritime National Historic site was established on March 17th, 1938. It is the first National Historic Site in the US. Included at this site are the well-known and visited historical homes such as the Narbonne House built in 1675, Derby house built in 1762, St. Joseph Hall built in 1909 and many wharfs including the famous Derby Warf, where a replica of a 1797 cargo vessel the Friendship now stands.


The Narbonne House was originally built for a well to do butcher named Thomas Ives. Later, in 1780 the home was purchased by Jonathan Andrews, grandfather of Sarah Narbonne of whom the House was named after. She was born, and ultimately passed in the home 101 years later. Her daughter Mary was also born and lived out her years in the home as well. The Narbonne house was at last purchased by the National Park Service in 1963 by descendants of Frank Hale, Mary Narbonne’s nephew.


The Derby house was built in 1762 for Elias Hasket and Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby as a wedding present. They spent the next 20 years in the house and raised 7 children. After the war in 1796, they sold the home to Captain Henry Pierce who lived there until 1827 and built the West India Goods store in 1800, right next to the home. The home was lived in by many families after that, and in the early 20thcentury it was purchased by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. By 1937, the home was finally in the hands of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.


St. Joseph Hall was a big part of the Polish community for about 70 years. The St. Joseph Society was founded in 1897 and by 1909 was able to build a building for the Polish community. Each of the floors in the 3 story building was used for something different. The first floor was retail oriented to bring in needed income, the second floor was allotted to community events such as weddings and communions, and the top floor was allocated to apartments for Polish immigrants just getting to the US. It continued this way until the 1980’s when it was sold to the National Park Service in 1988.


Today, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site hosts thousands of visitors, each trying to glimpse an exciting view of our country’s past.


Haunted History: Of all the locations listed here, the one that most people speak about being haunted is the Derby Wharf. The Wharf was first built in 1783, then extended in 1809 at the peak of Salem’s shipping business. Visitors to the wharf have clamed to see full-bodied apparitions, feel cold spots in the midst of summer, and feel taps on their shoulders. Some believe that these figures were once the crewmen of the Andrew Johnson, which was destroyed by a schooner named the Haskell during a hurricane.


With all of these sightings, it’s hard not to say that the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is haunted.