Media Coverage

Keeping Salem History Above Water

preservation-admin , August 4, 2021

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August 4, 2021

On September 13-14, 2021, the City of Salem and the Salem Preservation Partners, together with Keeping History Above Water®, a national initiative of the Newport Restoration Foundation, will host a two-day workshop in Salem to address climate change impacts on historic resources. The workshop will be held at the Morse Auditorium at the Peabody Essex Museum and will include both in-person and live-streamed events.

This first annual event will raise awareness of and discuss adaptation strategies to address climate change impacts on Salem’s historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods. The workshop will include an opening night speaker, educational sessions, and walking tours. Speakers will include representatives from the Peabody Essex Museum, Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, Boston’s Climate Change & Environmental Planning Department, Salem State University, Salem Sound Coastwatch, and the City of Salem. Keynote speaker Erin Minnigan, Director of Preservation at the Preservation Society of Charleston, South Carolina will highlight Charleston’s efforts to develop adaption strategies for local history and culture.

The North Shore of Boston, including Salem and surrounding communities, is witnessing first-hand the damaging effects of climate change on historic properties and neighborhoods.

Identifying and implementing adaptation tools for historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods to increase resiliency from rising sea level, groundwaters and increased storm intensity is critical. The release of the Massachusetts Coast Flood Risk Model inundation maps for Salem in 2030, 2050, and 2070 further emphasize that flooding of historic neighborhoods and properties will continue and will intensify.

“I’m very grateful to the Newport Restoration Foundation and Salem’s own Preservation Partners collaborative for making this important event possible,” said Mayor Driscoll, who first convened the Preservation Partners in 2016. “Salem is forward-looking and pro-active in our approaches to managing the local impacts of global climate change. As a historic community, especially, we want to be intentional and thoughtful in how we plan and prepare for these challenges. In Salem we treasure our history because it has laid the foundation for our values and our hopes today. Dialogues like Keeping History Above Water® will help ensure that that can continue to be the case for future generations of Salem residents.”

Salem Preservation Partners is a group of historic preservation organizations that gather bi-monthly to discuss issues and activities pertinent to the community. As owners of historic buildings and leaders in the preservation field, Salem’s Preservation Partners formed a subcommittee to help historic properties and neighborhoods plan to adapt to rising sea levels and other climate change challenges.

Hosted by the City of Salem’s Planning and Community Development Department, the Partners include the Pickering House, the Peabody Essex Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, Salem Sound Coastwatch, Historic New England, the National Park Service, Historic Salem Inc., Hamilton Hall, the Salem Athenaeum, Destination Salem, Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery and many more.

Since 2016, the Newport Restoration Foundation has held Keeping History Above Water conferences in coastal communities throughout the United States to focus on “the increasing and varied risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities and their built environments.

These events focus on what preservationists, engineers, city planners, legislators, insurers, historic home owners and other decision-makers need to know about climate change, sea level rise in particular, and what can be done to protect historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods from the increasing threat of inundation.” The events provide a starting point for communities to begin planning for the complex issues of climate change and historic preservation.

Please join Preservation Partners and the City of Salem on September 13 and 14 to learn how preservation in a changing climate is critical to protecting Salem’s incredible historic resources.

For more information and to register for the workshop, please visit and

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This press release was produced by the City of Salem. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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