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National Park Service

Formerly the Armory, now Salem Visitor's CenterThe Salem Partnership was founded in 1987. From its conception, it has worked closely with the National Park Service. The newly formed “partnership” focused its first efforts to restore the existing Salem Maritime National Historic Site, to build a regional visitors center and to expand the site’s boundaries to include the St. Joseph’s Polish Club. This building is now the NPS Educational Building. The NPS Regional Visitor Center opened in 1994. The Visitor Center now hosts approximately 600,000 visitors annually. The National Park’s historic, Colonial era wharves were rebuilt. The funding brought to this region to rebuild the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the Regional Visitor Center exceeded $25 million.

Probably most exciting for this historic port city and the best example of collaboration of partnership was the building of the replica tall ship, Friendship, which drew new interest in Salem’s harbor and its potential. The Salem Partnership took the lead in fundraising for this project. Federal funding was obtained but $750,000 in a match was necessary to make this ship happen. It truly took the commitment of the entire North Shore community but it looked like this large amount was not going to be realized in time. The Partnership agreed to take a $250,000 loan (which has been repaid) and the ship, that is the pride of Salem, arrived in port in 1998.

The FriendshipFriendship is a newly constructed ship based upon an East Indiaman built by Enos Briggs in Salem in 1797. The original Friendship was constructed in Briggs’ shipyard across the South River, near the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The three-masted square-rigged 342-ton vessel was registered to merchants Jerathmiel Pierce and Aaron Wite of Salem. Friendship made 15 voyages around the world, trading for pepper, exotic spices, sugar, coffee and other goods. She was captured by the British during the War of 1812 and was condemned and sold. The new Friendship is handicap accessible and meets modern safety requirements but retains the appearance of the late 18th century vessel.