This next update has the Senior Center nearly completed, the FlynnTan apartments across Bridge St topped off, and site preparation underway for the Gateway Center at the corner of Bridge and Boston Streets.
For those new to this series of posts, Blubber Hollow, at the foot of Gallows Hill along the North River (which flows west to east north of central Salem), was the center for more than a century of an immense leather tanning industry, at its peak dozens of flourishing tanneries. By the mid-20th century the industry was in a death spiral. One-by-one tanneries went belly up, the factory buildings abandoned, rotted, eventually demolished. Eyesore doesn’t go far enough to describe what Blubber Hollow had become (and in many respects, still is).
Efforts to fill in the vast empty spaces with new buildings have been intermittent, more steps back than steps forward. There have been stunted shoots of life. The North River Apartments opened in 2013 at the site of a demolished tannery, but despite hope was not a harbinger of more. The first medical marijuana facility in Massachusetts opened in an empty tannery in 2015. Finally in late 2017 groundbreaking occurred on two of many proposed projects, the new Senior Center (ahem Community Life Center) (25 years in the making) replacing an outdated facility across town on Broad St, and the demolition of the closed FlynnTan factory and replacement by apartments and townhouses, brought by the same folks who put together North River Apartments (a venture a mere 20 years in the making).
The FlynnTan apartment building is topped off, the roof going on, plumbing going in. The parapet at each end is intended to echo the like parapets on this noteworthy vintage Georgian apartment building across Boston St.
The building is a survivor, damaged in the Great Salem Fire of 1914 but repaired, most recently converted to, what else, condos. In its long life the parapet once served as a billboard for Coco-Cola.
The framing for the six townhouses along Boston St has begun, the carpenters moving over from the now fully framed apartment building. Several vintage Gablefront houses of Gallows Hill are visible across Boston St.
Catty corner to this site the Senior Center has its cladding nearly in place, hardscaping for sidewalks and parking underway. The siding is not very becoming. Final judgment on the aesthetics of the building will be reserved until opening, but it’s not promising. Perhaps the cladding design was deliberately chosen to reflect the remaining industrial warehouses across the street, survivors of when this property was part of Hygrade Sylvania. Echoing vintage buildings in contemporary design is to be promoted (see 61 Boston St above) but really, industrial chic does not cut it.
Also noted on this holiday perambulation around Blubber Hollow.
When moving into an apartment building must not forget to pack the swimming pool ladder and the classic rocking horse. Kudos for getting it all to fit atop the family SUV.
And though the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial is not dedicated to those who died in war, the executed were victims of a religious battle, so the 19 plum-colored carnations strewn along the top, one for each victim, seems altogether appropriate.