If you grew up in Salem, you may remember McCulloch's Department Store located along East State Street. The site of that former store has featured a park for decades. With the help of the Salem Preservation Society and dozens of community donors, the city unveiled the park's beautification efforts on Wednesday.

21 News caught up with Salem Preservation President David Schwartz who tells us this project was seven years in the making and gave us the extensive history of the property located on East State Street.

The store was opened in 1912 by Robert McCulloch, who traveled to Salem from Scotland to open his very own department store.

Schwartz says this proved to be a successful endeavor, as the store was very popular, but eventually, the store's lifespan came to an end when it collapsed and could not be repaired.

Bob McCulloch, grandson of Robert McCulloch, tells 21 News the store originally closed in 1982 and the property collapsed under the weight of snow and ice in 1985.

From there, the McCulloch family donated the property to the City of Salem who demolished it and cleaned it up.

For years, the property, located between 581 and 553 East State Street, remained empty until the Rotary Club of Salem placed a historical marker at the site and the Beautification Committee of the Chamber of Commerce began beautifying the area.

Eventually, Salem Preservation was approached to build a pocket park on the vacant property, and with that, the seven-year project began. 

"It's a nod to our historic buildings downtown," said Jennifer Brown with the Salem Preservation Society. "We don't want to lose our small-town charm."

Bob McCulloch, Robert McCulloch's grandson tells us he believes this is something his grandfather would have wanted since he was always active civically and would have wanted something for the whole community to enjoy.

"Our families cleared the lot and filled it in but it sat fallow," McCulloch said. "And there were a couple attempts to do something with it and then this is the third ad best attempt. We're just pleased the public can use this."

"The park is wonderful but in my mind, all I can remember is the building," said Joe Null, grandson of Robert McCulloch.

Throughout the project, Salem Preservation received donations and support from the McCulloch family and others from across the country including Supreme Court Judges in California and City Solicitors from New Hampshire.

Schwartz tells 21 News donors saw funding requests for the $200,000 project online and pitched in.

"The Salem Preservation Committee and all the private donors and individuals who donated to make this happen are just wonderful," Null added. "But that's Salem. That's the people of Salem. When there's something to be done, they'll do it."

"The people that grew up in Salem have moved all over the world and have become very successful," White added. "And they wanted to give back something to their hometown of Salem."

The McCulloch family agrees the community contribution is a direct reflection of Robert McCulloch and how he served the City of Salem.

"Our grandfather put a lot into the town," McCulloch added. "He was a notorious fundraiser for the appropriate charitable causes. So, to see some of that given back for the benefit of the community makes us feel very good."

A grand opening event was held at the brand-new park on Wednesday. The event welcomed about 100 residents and featured food, music and guest appearances including members of the McCulloch family and the Hansell Family, who ran another department store acting as the McCullochs' competition.

Food was served from many restaurants in the area including Lib's Coffee, Ezio's, Mike's Penn Ave. Grill, Coaches Burger Bar, Boneshaker's, Ricky's English Pub, Liebe Wein, Quaker Steak & Lube, Kast Iron Soda Works and Salty Mama's.

In terms of the future of the park, a summer concert series will take place every Friday from June 14 to August 30 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m on the Alan Freed Stage.

Anyone else interested in holding an event here should contact the city.

A complete list of events for the summer concert series can be found below:

- June 14: Kurt Consor 

- June 21: Bobby Thomas

- June 28: David Van Pelt

- July 5: Michael Smith Jr.

- July 12: Ed Madej

- July 19: Ruby Hornsby

- July 26: Ava & Mike

- August 2: The Doombrowskis

- August 9: Joe Rottenborn

- August 16: Ryan Blakeman

- August 23: Rick Stoffer

- August 30: Ritchie Wilkins Trio