Landmarks and Historic Sites On The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

June 10, 2022

Our local history is something to be cherished and preserved. This is one of the many reasons we felt it essential to designate and promote the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. All across the Byway, travelers can find incredible sites representing the North Shore’s vibrant history. Each of these sites and landmarks has their own unique stories to tell. All you have to do is visit.

McIntire Historic District (Salem, MA)

For history lovers, the McIntire Historic District is a must-visit, especially if you love period architecture. The district contains over 300 historic structures designed or inspired by famous architect Samuel McIntire (1757-1811). Here, visitors can take in Georgian and Federal-period homes that present a rare window into the past. 

If you wish to dive deeper into the district, there is a self-guided suggested urban walking tour available. If you wish to take the tour, please download The McIntire Historic District Walking Trail pdf brochure for more details and guidance. 

Salem Maritime National Historic Site (Salem, MA)

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is known as the first historic site in the National Park System. Here, history buffs can find 9.5 acres of North Shore maritime history to explore. In fact, the area was once Salem’s main waterfront section. The site contains preserved historic buildings and museums that offer a unique look at the coastal culture and economy in colonial America. 

Additionally, visitors are welcome to walk Derby Wharf, taking in the sights and sounds of Salem Harbor. And you can also visit and snag a few pics with the Derby Wharf Light Station.

Motif #1 (Rockport)

View the little red fishing shack that has inspired artists for generations. The fishing shack is well known as one of, if not the, most painted buildings in America. And once you see it, you’ll understand why. The fishing shack sits at the end of Bradley Wharf, overlooking Rockport Harbor. The shack has become a symbol of maritime life – a representation of the quaint, subtle beauty that makes the Scenic Byway and the North Shore an incredible place to visit. 

While you’re there, be sure to check out the various art galleries and the Rockport Art Association to further view inspiring artwork and experience the seaside town’s vibrant art culture. 

Dogtown (Rockport & Gloucester)

Dogtown (or Dogtown Common) is a true hidden gem off the Scenic Byway. The area is known for its charming wood trails and boulder formations left by glaciers. But did you know that there used to be a small village within the 3600-acre area? 

The area was originally settled in 1693. The rocky, inland location offered protection from enemy natives and pirates. The village has been abandoned since 1830 due to settlers moving towards the harbor. Today, visitors can still travel the winding pathways and cross-crossing trails across abandoned roadways. You can even spot 3 dozen boulders scattered across the pathways which have inspiring messages written on them. These messages were written by unemployed Finnish quarry workers during the Great Depression. 

And So Much More

These are just a sample of the many historic sites and landmarks spread out all across the Scenic Byway. Be sure to view our Essex Coastal Scenic Byway communities page for more historical listings and landmarks to visit.