The Old Witch Jail, which was first constructed in 1684, had numerous alterations and improvements before becoming a house. This was accomplished in order to make room for the construction of the Salem Jail close to the grounds of the Witch Jail, a more modern facility.
The restored Salem Jail reopened to residents in May 2010. When it was opened in 1813, it included amenities that were very different from those available now.
In 1811–1813, the granite jail’s original section and the Jailer’s House from the Federal Period were built. In the years 1884–1885, the jail underwent major renovations and westward expansion. With the exception of the octagonal cupolas, the expansion closely resembles the design of the old structure.
Some Old Photos Below :
The Salem Jail, one of the country’s oldest correctional facilities that was still operating until it was shut down in 1991, “has tremendous architectural value.”
The New England Telephone Company demolished the structure in the middle of the 1950s to create room for their new office building, which is located at 10 Federal Street. The removal of the historic site received little protest. The previous attraction relocated to a structure on Lynde Street that was first constructed as a chapel for the East Church and later served as the location of Salem Jail ‘s Christian Science Church from 1908 to 1980. The 1980-opened attraction is still open today under the name Witch Dungeon Museum. Beams from the previous jail were found during the excavation for the new telephone building on Federal Street. Currently, three are on display: one is at the Salem Witch Museum, one is at the Witch Dungeon Museum, and one is in the Peabody Essex Museum’s collection.
How it Looks Now :
The three-story Jail Keeper’s House, which was constructed in 1813, exhibits the usual Federal period features found in brick homes of this era in Salem Jail . Tolles claims that although no concrete proof has been discovered, it’s probable that Samuel Field McIntire, Samuel McIntire’s son, built the mansion. The era of the carriage house is unknown, however it was most likely built at the same time as the original jail and jailkeeper’s home. (Due to its bad state, the majority of the carriage house was reproduced as part of the current renovation rather than renovated.)
Restoration of the Salem Jail
The jail complex contained a carriage house, a jail keeper’s residence, and the jail’s main structure, which was built in 1813 and later expanded in 1884. In the United States, the Salem Detention was the longest-running jail institution until it was deemed unsafe for habitation in 1991. At the time, it lacked running water and electricity, making it impractical to operate as a jail. It sat imposingly on the outside of the city, its “great architectural significance” still discernible beneath the thickening overgrowth despite the lack of clear intentions for its utilization.
The complex was successfully transferred from State control to the City of Salem thanks to a successful effort by Historic Salem Jail in Salem. When the Jail Keeper’s House suffered significant fire damage in 1999, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and HSI provided free architectural and engineering assistance to rebuild the roof and stabilize the structure. While the facility was being handed to the Salem Redevelopment Authority in 2004, Historic Salem continued to advocate for the Jail by adding it to local and state lists of Most Endangered resources and by providing ongoing monitoring and support.
In order to make sure that preservation priorities were taken into consideration and that there would be a sufficient amount of public participation in the process, Historic Salem Jail was a member of the community team that worked with the Planning Department, the City Council, and the SRA on the redevelopment plan. The need that the buildings and site be treated in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties was essential to this. Public feedback desired some level of active public use while still supporting the preservation of the properties.
The New Boston Ventures was chosen to redevelop the project alongside the Boston architectural company Finegold Alexander Architects following an application and interview process. 24 residential units, a restaurant, and an exhibit on the history of the jail building were all produced by the project’s completion.
After 1991, the structure sat empty for the following 20 years until being converted into 23 luxurious flats and a restaurant by developers. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the $10.5 million project utilized both state and federal tax credits.
The National Housing & Rehabilitation Association presented the extremely successful project with a “Timmy Award” for Best Mixed Income or Market Rate Residential Category.
The Salem Jail Complex, an iconic but dilapidated building in Salem, Massachusetts, garnered five major honors for its multi-family adaptive use and historic restoration.
This old historical site could have easily been dismantled, but with a little creativity and forward-thinking, it was turned into a place of shelter and business. Nothing is more uniquely American than that.
This historic building was reused in part thanks to Historic Salem. Past presidents Barbara Cleary, Patti Kelleher, Staley McDermett, Stanley Smith, Larry Spang, Meg Twohey, and John Wathne deserve our sincere gratitude.