First residential historic district recognized in Salem

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

SALEM, Va. - The city of Salem has a new piece of history to celebrate. 

In a news release last week, the State Department of Historic Resources announced a historic district in the city had been approved and will be added to the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Barbara Bell has lived in a historic home on Broad Street for more than 40 years. 

"My husband, family and I have lived everywhere and I was just ready to live somewhere where people cared," said Barbara.

In the last few years, Barbara, a longtime Salem resident and a lover of all things historical, felt compelled to shine more light on this street -- on what it is and what it used to be. 

"Broad Street deserved to have some recognition," said Barbara.

Now thanks to Barbara and her neighbor's efforts, and the city of Salem, a section of North Broad Street is a registered residential historic district -- the first to be recognized in the city of Salem. Officials say it's a win for residents and for the city as a whole. 

"Historic districts are good for community pride and for highlighting areas of significance that are important in the history of a place or culturally to it. But, as we're seeing downtown, they also have a positive economic development aspect as well," said Benjamin Tripp, Salem city planner.

The new North Broad Street Historic District stretches roughly four blocks right off Main Street. Much of the architecture dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The project took a lot of research which was supported by the city and a state grant. It was a community effort and now all that hard work has paid off. 

"I feel more like a part of Salem living in a house like this and a neighborhood like this," said Barbara.

Now, the district will be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. After that, Barbara says she and her neighbors hope to install signs marking the district.

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