Polish immigrants began arriving in Salem in the late 19th century, drawn by the opportunity for work in the cotton mills and other factories in the area. By the turn of the 20th century, the western end of Derby Street, where Salem Maritime is located, had become the heart of the Polish community in Salem. The St. Joseph Society was founded in 1897 as a fraternal society that provided aid to its members in the form of assistance in times of illness or financial hardship, as well as funeral benefits. By 1909, the society was strong enough that they were able to build a three story headquarters. The first floor was retail space that could be rented out to provide an income for the support of the building. The large hall on the second floor was the site of hundreds of weddings, dances, plays, and other social events in the Polish community. On the top floor, several apartments were built to house new immigrants until they could get permanently settled.

• Point of Interest
Visited: 10/26/2016