By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — In a city where almost everything is historic, the National Park Service plans to demolish one thing that isn’t.
The rigging shed at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, a structure constructed in 1997 for temporary use as the Friendship was built, is slated to be taken down this spring.
The 80-by-16-foot wooden building is not up to code and was never designed to remain there, according to the Park Service.
The shed — used as a carpentry workshop and storage space since the Friendship was completed — will be demolished and removed sometime in the next few months, said Jonathan Parker, public information officer for the Salem Maritime Site.
“The rigging shed was never intended to be a permanent structure. By design, it is a temporary structure,” Parker said. “It’s time for the building to come down. ... Its value, compared to and relative to the other actual historic structures in the park, is very low. Ideally, we would like to spend our time and energy preserving actual historic structures.”
The National Park Service will publicize the demolition date, once scheduled, on www.nps.gov/sama and the Salem Maritime Site’s Facebook page, Parker said.
However, one local man has set up a “Save the Rigging Shed” page on Facebook, hoping to stop the demolition.
The Salem resident who established the Facebook page spoke with The Salem News this week but declined to comment publicly for this article.
Parker said the man behind the “Save the Rigging Shed” page is the only person who has contacted the Park Service about saving the building.
“The majority of people I’ve talked to are very understanding,” he said. “It’s important for people to understand the (rigging shed) is not historic and is essentially a temporary structure.”
The building is on Central Wharf on Derby Street. The wooden shed with red doors is often photographed with the tall ship Friendship docked behind it.
The shed’s workshop activities will be relocated to the Pedrick Store House on the adjacent Derby Wharf, Parker said. The three-story building, constructed around 1770, is a historic rigging and sail loft, which the Park Service relocated from Marblehead to Salem in 2007. Interior work on the Pedrick Store House will be finished this spring.
The Store House is 30 percent larger than the rigging shed and “much-better-suited as a working space,” Parker said.
The rigging shed was built by Scarano Boat Building in 1997 to assemble the rigging for the Friendship. Although Scarano designed the shed to be disassembled and removed once the Friendship was completed, the building was left to the National Park Service in 1998.
Because it was built to be temporary, it does not have a foundation, fire suppression and alarm systems, or adequate utility service. According to the Park Service, the building is “structurally deficient” and suffers from regular leaks, standing water and rodent damage.
“That rigging shed was (built as) part of the contract to construct the Friendship,” Parker said. “It has served as a de facto workshop for many years, but it doesn’t have the concrete foundation it would need for long-term (use).”
The three-masted Friendship, built between 1996 and 2002 in a collaboration between the National Park Service and several community groups, is a replica of a merchant vessel launched in 1797.
Salem Maritime, the country’s first National Historic Site, kicked off a year of 75th anniversary celebrations last weekend. The 9-acre park was established as a historic site on March 17, 1938.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.