SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 19, 2013

Salem Pioneer Village may stay open for summer

SALEM — The city is working on a plan to keep Salem Pioneer Village from closing this summer.

Gordon College announced last month that it will not renew its agreement to manage the city-owned living history site. The Wenham college will finish its contract this month with a pirate-themed festival on June 29 and 30.

Salem’s Park and Recreation Department is finalizing plans to keep the village open — on a smaller scale — with the city-owned Witch House coordinating tours of the site through October.

Last night, the Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to support plans for Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Witch House, to take the village under her wing and coordinate tours.

Peterson and Karen Partanen, director of parks, recreation and community services, have been working together the last month on plans to keep the village from closing.

Last night, Peterson told Park and Recreation Commissioners she’s willing to handle tour scheduling, marketing and ticket sales. She hopes to start tours the first week of July.

“I’d like to not see it languish in any way,” she said. “... It’s such a critical site to not lose.”

The 5-acre Salem Pioneer Village was built in 1930 as a stage set for a city-organized pageant to mark the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Gov. John Winthrop to Massachusetts’ shores. With a blacksmith’s shop, wigwam and thatched-roof cottages, the site is meant to depict Salem as it would have appeared to settlers arriving in the 1630s.

Gordon College has managed the village and Salem’s Old Town Hall on Essex Street since 2008. Last month, the college decided to focus its efforts and resources on Old Town Hall.

Details are still being finalized, but Peterson said tickets for summer tours of Pioneer Village would be sold at the Witch House. She's also talking with Salem Trolley about the possibility of having trolleys shuttle tourists between the Witch House on Essex Street and Salem Pioneer Village, part of Forest River Park, off West Avenue.

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