The History of Shetland Park

For over fifty years, Shetland Park has been a landmark on the Salem Harbor’s waterfront. The site of this attractive property has had a long and noteworthy history, dating back over 170 years.

In 1839, the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company erected a steam-operated textile plant in the port city of Salem, Massachusetts, on the site of what is now Shetland Park. The buildings were the first in America to be driven by steam rather than hydro power. Coal for powering the steam engines and materials for ongoing construction projects were stored on nearby Union (now Pickering) Wharf.

Operations began in 1845 and the location of the facility along the waterfront proved efficient for both cotton manufacturing and shipping of the goods. The sheeting was sold under the brand name of Pequot, so the operation became known as the Pequot Mills. In its heyday, the facility employed about 2,000 workers.

The Great Salem Fire of 1914 destroyed much of the City of Salem, and the Pequot Mills was a casualty of that fire. The fire burned 253 acres and 1,376 buildings, covering an area 1 1/2 miles long by 1/2 mile wide and resulting in almost 20,000 people homeless and 10,000 out of work. To its credit, the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company began to rebuild the site almost immediately, and the buildings that were reconstructed after the fire were made of state of the art steel-reinforced concrete structural systems. The Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company remained in operation on this site until 1953, when it moved to South Carolina to take advantage of a cheaper labor market.

In 1958, Robert I. Lappin, owner of The Shetland Company, a manufacturer of small home appliances, purchased the property from Zeckendorf & Company, a major New York real estate company. Seventy-five percent of the buildings were vacant at the time, and Mr. Lappin moved The Shetland Company from its Lynn location into 200,000 square feet, renaming the 1,500,000 square-foot property Shetland Industrial Park. In 1980, made possible by the development of Pickering Wharf, Shetland began to convert industrial space into office space, installing large bay windows to take advantage of the wonderful harbor views.

Development and upgrading of the buildings continued, and the property has become a thriving mixed-use facility, now known as Shetland Park. Over 100 tenants, who employ about 2,000 people, presently lease space within the park. Two of these tenants have been in the park for almost 50 years (Crystal Systems and EG&G (PerkinElmer)).

Shetland Park houses a number of State agencies: the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Department of Social Services, the Massachusetts Juvenile Court, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the Registry of Deeds for Southern Essex County.

In 2008, Shetland Park celebrated its 50th anniversary of ownership and management of the property. It is among the most financially solid real estate companies in the United States. Shetland’s objective for half a century has been to maintain the highest level of excellence for the satisfaction of our tenants. We believe that we have been highly successful in that regard, and remain focused on that goal.


Our Hallmark: Happy Tenants
Shetland Park
27 Congress Street, Salem, MA 01970
Phone: 978-744-0556 Fax: 978-744-2078