Harbor Picture by Rob Kipp,
Spirit of ’76 Picture by Nick Fader

Go To Search
Notify Me

Town of Marblehead
Abbot Hall
188 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA 01945
Marblehead Historical Commission
Marblehead Historical Commission

Selectmen's Office
Abbot Hall
188 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945

Ph: 781-639-3425

P. Chris Johnston, Chairman
Joyce L. Booth
Harry C. Christensen, Jr.
William E. Conly
Donald W. Gardner
Douglas O'Leary
Peter Stacey

Associate Commissioners
Gail Gray
Eleanor Rhoades, Secretary
C. Pat Franklin

Collections Manager
Wayne T. Butler 

Hours of Operation
Historical Commission displays in the hallways and basement of Abbot Hall are available for viewing by the public at all times that Abbot Hall is open. (See Selectmen's webpage for hours.).

The Commission maintains the Maritime Museum, which tells the story of Marblehead's naval history. The Maritime Museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Mon. through Thur. & Sat. 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Fri. 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM - depending on volunteer docent availablity. The Maritime Museum is also open at various times during the Spring and Fall.

The Commission's Gift Shop is located on the first floor and is open from Memorial Day through Christmas, Monday - Thursday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Friday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM.

The Commission's Archivist Office, Volunteers' Office, Conference Room and Archives are located on the second floor of Abbot Hall and are open Monday - Friday 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM for researchers and other visitors. Additional times may be arranged by appointment. It is recommended to call beforehand, since we are an all-volunteer organization and staff may not be available at all times.

Both the Gift Shop and Office are staffed by volunteers.

What We Do
We live in a unique and historic town – it's places, structures, people and stories tell the history of New England in a microcosm. Our mission is to identify, preserve and protect Marblehead's historical assets – it's places, artifacts and stories, while making these accessible to all. We want to educate the public about and publicize Marblehead's proud history. We also want to work with other organizations to help achieve our mission. Finally, we fulfill our legally required obligations per Mass. General Laws Chapter 40, Section 8d by working with the state Historical Commission and State Archeologist. 

The Marblehead Historical Commission was established in 1964.

The Commission consists of a seven-member board that is appointed by the Board of Selectmen for staggered three-year terms.

Many of the Historical Commission Archives can be viewed and searched by clicking on the link below: 

Link to Archives

Learn a little about Old Marblehead from information in our archives. Use the link below to read a piece of Marblehead history. 

Old Marblehead Link

Historic Preservation Planning
One of the duties of the Historical Commission is preservation of the historical assets of the town. This includes the historic areas, structures and buildings of our town. A key element of historic preservation is an inventory of the town's historic assets. Until now (2014), the only inventories have been conducted primarily in the historic downtown area. No inventories have been conducted in most of the remainder of the town, although many of these other neighborhoods contain historically important areas and buildings.

The Historical Commission has created a Master Plan for Historical Preservation Surveys of the entire town. This was funded by the Commission, along with a matching grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The plan lays out a phased and prioritized plan to inventory the entire town for historical resources. A link to this plan is contained here. /DocumentCenter/Index/548

Historical Markers
The responsibility of the Commission includes researching all places in town of historic value and to maintain an inventory of all historical markers. From time to time the Commission may place historical markers or signs at locations of historical significance.

The Commission may accept donated artifacts on behalf of the Town, many of which are displayed in Abbot Hall. With the consent of the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting, it may acquire properties.

Historic District
The Historical Commission has limited oversight over an area of Marblehead designated by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Department of the Interior as being on the National Register of Historic Districts. The National Register Historic District is one of the largest contiguous colonial districts to be placed on National Register, the nation’s official list of important sites and structures that preserves local, state, and national heritage. It was established under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to provide eligible property owners with some federal tax benefits and federal grants for approved historic preservation.

The Old and Historic Districts Commission has direct oversight of the Old and Historic District of Marblehead, distinct from the National Register Historic District.

Abbot Hall Museum
The Commission maintains the Maritime Museum and the museum cases in Abbot Hall and a gift shop that is staffed by volunteers. The Museum and Gift Shop are open seasonally, generally from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Contact the Historical Commission or the Selectmens' Office for hours.

Historical Research and Preservation Resources
The Historical Commission maintains a bookshelf of resource materials on caring for and preserving various kinds of historical materials (eg. photos). These are available for town residents to use. Come to the Historical Commission offices on the second floor of Abbot Hall to review and/or use any of these reference materials.

When We Meet
The Historical Commission meets on the second floor of Abbot Hall, generally on the fourth Tuesday each month, except December.

The Historical Commission staff is available by appointment or chance to assist researchers on the history of Marblehead or Marbleheaders.

Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers are always welcome and can assist with archival work, historic preservation planning, work in the Gift shop or become docents for the Maritime Museum. Contact the Historical Commission for more information.