SALEM — The long brick building on Webster Street is one of the last links to the days of streetcars.
There was a time when residents of this city rode to work or to shop on horse- or mule-drawn cars. Later in the 19th century, those gave way to electric cars, which ran on a network of tracks that crisscrossed the city and connected Salem to communities across the North Shore.
One of the favorite trips back then was out to Salem Willows, where a streetcar company built a pavilion, according to local historian Nelson Dionne.
“Salem was pretty heavily gridded with car lines,” he said.
Remnants of those streetcar days were unearthed a few years ago when the state reconstructed Bridge Street.
The two-story building at 3 Webster St. was built in 1887 as a car barn by the Lynn & Boston Electric Railroad Co., according to David Pabich, whose family company, Salem Renewal, bought the building last fall. The building still has the oversized doors used by the trolleys and a piece of track above a front window.
In more recent times, the Webster Street building was used as a storage facility by a hardware company and laundry, a woodworking shop, a shoe factory and a printing business.
The Webster Street site is Salem Renewal’s latest acquisition. The company, operated by Salem Inn owners Dick and Diane Pabich and their son, David, bought the building for $365,000. The Pabichs expect to spend $1 million converting it to six apartments.
“This is going to be an extremely unique living space,” said David Pabich, who is heading the project. “That really was part of the appeal.”
The two “flats” and four townhouses, all two-bedrooms, will have exposed brick walls and large wooden beams from the old car barn. Loft ceilings on the second floor are more than 16 feet high.