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Essex Heritage launches online database for outdoor and cultural resources

The Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport is one of several historic and cultural sites listed on the Heritage at Home website.
The Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport is one of several historic and cultural sites listed on the Heritage at Home website.Pat Greenhouse

Imagine browsing through the history of the Salem Witch Trials , the Whittier Home in Amesbury where American Quaker poet and abolitionist John Whittier wrote much of his work, and the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport all from the comfort of your home,

These and other historical and cultural sites are featured in a new website crafted by the Essex National Heritage Commission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered these sites and cultural resources across Massachusetts and the country.

The website, Heritage at Home, is a compilation of dozens of webpages from historical sites, museums, galleries, and libraries across Essex County. The website allows users to scroll through the list of resources and delve deeply into the topic of their choosing, even though many of their physical locations have temporarily closed because of the pandemic.

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“Creating social distance can make it challenging to enjoy the rich offerings of this beautiful region," the Essex National Heritage Commission said in a statement. " However, there are still many ways we can interact with the heritage area.”

Salem-based commission manages the Essex National Heritage Area.

The list of resources also includes dozens of locations for outdoor getaways like the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest, a sprawling 1,000 acre park in Georgetown with miles of hiking trails, and the Castle Neck River Reservation in Ipswich, one of the best birding spots in Essex county with sweeping panoramic views. The webpage also indicates which spots have been closed because of the pandemic and includes numerous warnings about social distancing, even when outdoors.

“Additionally, we all know how important connecting with nature can be to our physical & mental health," the web page states. " Luckily there are dozens of sites around Essex County where you can enjoy the outdoors while practicing safe social distancing.”

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