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Rehabilitation of the JC Penney building began in 2017, and since, the goal has remained the same – to provide a place where the community can grow, learn, and connect to its history while preserving a commercial property familiar to the area. Breathing new life into the JC Penney property by opening its doors to teach preservation building arts connects the existing fabric of the building to the surrounding city’s history as well as its future.


We see the future of this building as providing two services to our community. The large open space will provide much needed services to youth and adults without career options or plans while also supporting historic preservation within our community and state. SUFS is currently in the process of rehabilitating the building to be used as a preservation crafts training center. This use ties in with regional and local demands for marketable skills in Building Preservation Arts such as woodworking, plasterwork, masonry, etc. With this trade center, we are not only supporting preservation but also economically disadvantaged people who have thus far been unable to pursue a career path that could lead to financial stability.


The goal of the project is to complete the rehabilitation of the building that was started in 2017 to adaptively reuse the property for a Training Center for Old Building Arts. Stand Up for Salem (SUFS) acquired the former JC Penney store and immediately began planning and rehabilitation of the building for the future training center. 


The training center will focus on woodworking, ornamental plaster and masonry. After much research in the region, it was determined that focusing on these trades was not only needed in the immediate area but also in the wider region since they are not currently being taught elsewhere. 


The rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of this historic property will serve to provide job training for residents with an emphasis on youth and create a pathway to a college degree in Building Preservation Arts, as well as stimulate economic growth for the city by serving as a “makerspace” for training in arts such as woodworking, plasterwork, and masonry which ties in with the regional and city historic image, housing, and rehabilitation construction labor demands.

A look inside the beloved JCPenney building in September, 2021. 

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