Gordon in the News: last updated 10/24/2008

Gordon College to Manage Salem's Pioneer Village and Old Town Hall

July 17, 2008

Kristin Schwabauer
Office of College Communications

Salem News, July 18, 2008

WENHAM, MA-Gordon College's Institute for Public History (IPH), under the auspices of the Global Education office, was recently awarded management of Old Town Hall and Salem 1630: Pioneer Village by the City Council of the City of Salem. The Institute will enter into a five year lease, from 2008-2013 with a possible five year extension for both properties.

The leases for Old Town Hall and Pioneer Village went before the Salem City Council and were approved last night. Gordon will begin its lease August 1, 2008 and will manage both properties. "The securing of these leases gives Gordon College and its Institute for Public History access to two prominent venues for developing its new academic offerings in historical interpretation," says Cliff Hersey, dean of Global Education. "The two locations at Salem's Old Town Hall and at Salem 1630: Pioneer Village will give opportunity for Gordon students to study, create and interpret in the very center of America's most prominent historic city."

The College plans to use Old Town Hall during the regular tourist season (June through November) to continue to perform Cry Innocent, by Gordon's History Alive! program as well as hold classes and lectures for students involved in the IPH program. An evening Hawthorne-themed tour will be available for guests during the spring and summer; children's classes, workshops, staged readings, an annual play, art exhibits and dress balls will be offered during the winter. Gordon will also manage and coordinate the rental calendar for Old Town Hall--allowing the space to be available for the public and community groups when the Institute for Public History is not using it.

Gordon College will also operate Pioneer Village, which has been considered one of Salem's "Most Endangered Historic Resources" since 2003, with the goal of restoring and maintaining the buildings to their former condition, creating an interactive and exciting history museum. The College will work alongside educators and professional actors to create fresh material annually, increasing the interactive plays History Alive! already performs into a 24 week season. "Because of our work on Cry Innocent, a play set in 1692, our company has become captivated by the broader time period," says Kristina Wacome-Stevick, artistic director for History Alive!. "We want to share what we've learned by creating new material. Having long term tenancy of an environment like Pioneer Village will enable History Alive! to generate new pieces in an atmosphere that is as close to time travel as is possible."

Curatorial and museum administration internships, special lectures and workshops will also be available through IPH's use of Pioneer Village. This facility is a three acre area designed to look like a Puritan village from 1630--it includes a governor's house, scenery houses, a Long House, an English Wigwam and a pillory. The village was originally created to show people how English Puritan ancestors lived and worked in Salem in the early 17th century.

The Institute for Public History is a combination of History Alive!--a theatre group that has performed Cry Innocent in Old Town Hall since 1992--the history department's Museum Studies Program and the theatre department. The Institute offers field trips to New England's best museums and historic sites; guest lecturers from some of the nation's leading museum and public history professionals; internships at many of New England's most highly rated museums and historic sites; job placement in some of the area's top museums; and a minor in historical interpretation working with a long-established program in historic Salem. History Alive! presents historical stories through interactive theatre involving both actors and audience, hoping to broaden an understanding of the past and to relate it to the present.

For information or to set up an interview, contact Kristin Schwabauer in the Office of College Communications at 978.867.4037 or email .


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.