In 2012, the City embarked on a multi-phase project to restore the Common's cast iron fence. Vandalism, acid rain, animal waste, accidental damage, and inappropriate repairs had placed the fence at such risk that Historic Salem, Inc. (HSI) designated the Common Fence as one of Salem’s Most Endangered Historic Resources. An Existing Conditions Study and Preservation Plan for the fence found that at least fourteen sections of the fence were missing with widespread damage and inappropriate repairs to the remaining sections of fencing.
To date, the City has repaired and replaced multiple sections of fencing with local CPA funds and grants from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Each fence section is made of a top rail, bottom decorative rail and individual pickets with alternative patterns of diamonds and spades. Fence posts consist of a base, decorative middle and pineapple shaped top. With the goal to retain as much original fabric as possible, restoration work includes the delicate removal of damaged cast iron pieces, which are then labeled and mapped to ensure proper re-installation. At the foundry, damaged pieces are sandblasted to remove paint and then repaired and repainted. For missing sections, molds are created to recast the components for new fencing. The 2016 presentation below provides information on the ongoing project: