07/2010 Update: In 2009, a major restoration and rehabilitation was completed and the building was dedicated and reopened. The 1891 facade was restored and some new infill construction was added. The building and new parking garage are owned by Stand Up For Salem, Inc., and is the new home to several state and county agencies. The new adjacent construction is compatible designed; it is set back slightly, follows the rhythm and proportion of window openings, and is distinguished from the historic facade by a darker brick.
This brick building was built in 1891 to house stores on its ground floor and William P. Finlaw’s pants factory above. It is one of five elegant, Victorian-era, commercial buildings that once graced downtown Salem. They reflected the period when the railroad and the port combined to stimulate the economy of this small Delaware River city. Three of these buildings are gone, and the Finlaw building could be the next to disappear. Its loss would put a large hole in Salem’s two most important streetscapes.
The building has been vacant for the past several years, the absentee owners having evidently abandoned it. The roof has begun to fail so water seeps in with every rainfall. Salem is investigating the feasibility of rehabilitation and may seek stabilization funds. But no action has been taken to put a new roof on the building, and while the city ponders what it can and will do, the rain continues to find its way in.
Steven G. Smith, Preservation Salem, Inc.
P.O. Box 693,
Salem, NJ 08079