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Salem Trial Courts - J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center

The Salem Partnership has been a long-time supporter of the Salem Trial Courts project, recognizing the importance of maintaining the courts presence as an integral part of downtown Salem, both from a civic standpoint and as a contributor to the economic vitality of the city. This project, currently underway with the Division of Capital Asset Management, will create a new state-of-the-art facility, which will serve the community and present an architecturally exciting gateway into Salem.

 DCAM concluded work on a preliminary study in 2004 which proposed creating a “courts campus” to bring together different court departments in order to offer enhanced security, comprehensive services and take advantage of shared resources. The study recommended utilization of the 1912 Probate and Family Court / Registry of Deeds building for the Probate and Family Court and construction of a new building (approximately 190,000 SF) that will contain all of the other court departments - Superior, District, Housing and Juvenile Courts.

Funding for the $106 million project was approved in the spring of 2005. This allowed DCAM to proceed with hiring a designer and conducting a detailed building study. Architects Goody, Clancy & Associates, who bring experience working with historic preservation, courthouses in historic areas, and direct experience in Salem - came on board in June 2005. This will be a landmark building for Salem, taking special care to respect the historic streetscape, scale and context of the area, identified as a major concern of Salem preservation organizations and community groups.

DCAM created a Citizens Steering Committee to keep the Salem Community abreast of the process. An MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) was signed with the Massachusetts Historical Commission in April 2008, and numerous public meetings were held to solicit input and hear concerns about traffic issues and design.

Construction began in 2009. To date:

  • Three houses as well as the back-end of the Baptist Church were removed to provide space for the new courthouse and the Law Library
  • The original Baptist Church was moved to its new site and will serve as the new law library. Restoration of both the exterior and interior of the law library is near completion. The new library now stands proudly as the entrance to the new courts complex

We are happy to report that the renovation and expansion of the J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center is now complete and in full use by district, juvenile, superior and housing courts. The former Baptist Church is now the Law Library and is the cornerstone of the new courts complex. The law library is open to the public. We encourage you to visit it as it is truly magnificent.

*Photos of J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center courtesy of Daniel O'Connell's Sons, Inc.