Danvers native Lisa Roberts is a busy mother of two. Ask her about her hometown, however, and she immediately becomes a Girl Scout. “Our troop would go to Endicott Park for picnics or to use the fitness trail,” she remembers joyfully.
“I used to love visiting the swan pond and horse stables.” Roberts credits her upbringing in Danvers to the values she still holds dear today: a love of the outdoors, a fascination with history, and an appreciation for community. “It was a great town to grow up in,” she says simply.
Wayne Marquis, Danvers town manager for the past 30 years, shares that sentiment. “Danvers is a community close to Boston, but with a traditional
small-town New England feel,” he says, “We make it a priority to preserve our history.”
Take a tour of Danvers and you will feel that history around every corner. The Rebecca Nurse Homestead is the top attraction in town, offering visitors the story of one of the women hanged during the witch trials of 1692. The Samuel Holton House (1670) and the Page House (1754) also spark stories of days long past. Glen Magna Farms is a historic North Shore summer estate, boasting an original classic Colonial Revival mansion and acres of breathtaking
gardens and walkways.
Even renovations to local properties involve intricate planning to preserve their significance. The Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, built in the 1880s, is a stunning white Georgian Revival structure. In 1980, as part of an effort to add space without affecting its appearance, an underground level was constructed below the building. That space now houses the children’s room. Town Hall, built in 1855, is scheduled to undergo a large exterior renovation in 2009, with a heavy emphasis on preserving the original architecture. Also on the 2009 agenda is a renovation of the local high school. The middle school underwent a similar upgrade this past year.
“We are fiscally conservative, yet we consistently prioritize and grow community services, and have never needed an override to do it,” Marquis says. “For us, it’s all about reusing the structures we have, while preserving their historical significance.”
Marquis also credits the many thriving businesses in Danvers, large and small, as a source of strength. The US headquarters for Osram Sylvania is here, as is the Liberty Tree Mall. Massachusetts General Hospital is building a North Shore ambulatory care facility in 2009, which will add to the town’s growing medical presence. Even downtown, small shops successfully reinvent themselves time and time again. Five new restaurants have opened up downtown in the past year alone.
At the center of the community lies a strong commitment to the families who live here. Family Festival Week in July is an annual highlight for town residents young and old, as is September’s Truck Day. During October’s Open House event, residents can ride trolleys around town to learn about, and speak directly to, workers in the Town Hall, Fire Department, and Police Headquarters.
Spending time in Danvers, visitors can feel what the residents here already know: respecting the past, looking forward to the future, and maintaining community connection are the keys to making theirs an ideal North Shore town.