October 1, 2018

Salem Magazine, Fall 2018

Salem Magazine, Fall 2018
Accounting for history
Old Salem Savings Bank records gain interest with age

"You meet the most interesting people in the archives of the Frederick E. Berry Library and  Learning Commons at Salem State University.
That’s where Jen Ratliff made the acquaintance of Clarence Murphy, a bank clerk who dominated national headlines in the 19th century, after he stole money from the Salem Savings Bank.
Ratliff, an archivist and Salem State graduate, encountered Murphy’s story recently while investigating 150 ledgers and 50 boxes of papers from Salem Savings Bank, which were donated to the library last December by developer Robert Dunham.
He found them in a building at 120 Washington St. that he bought from Eastern Savings Bank in 2016. The building now houses Ledger Restaurant & Bar, where a few of the historic ledgers were briefly used in the decor..."

Read More: Salem Magazine

September 25, 2018

Gerber's Restaurant - Salem, Massachusetts

Gerber's Restaurant, 1959

Louis Gerber got his start in the restaurant industry as a teenager working at Hunt’s Cafeteria in Lynn. By the time he turned twenty, he was already head chef at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. After traveling New England, working in the area’s top restaurants, Louis and his wife, Alice, settled in Salem to raise their family. Louis and his brother Joseph opened Gerber’s Restaurant on Essex Street before relocating to their permanent location at 114 Washington Street in Town House Square in 1942. Gerber’s Restaurant quickly grew a following and was frequented by locals, lawyers, judges, politicians, and even visiting celebrities, earning the nickname “Little City Hall.”
In 1948, Louis expanded Gerber’s and soon the small fifteen-seat counter and tables were transformed into seating for over one hundred. Gerber’s business continued to grow; The Salem Evening News claimed that the restaurant was the busiest and most successful in the city and that Gerber’s was “as well known as The House of the Seven Gables in this area.”
The food wasn’t the only reason people visited Gerber’s - Louis’ German Shepard Ferdinand often waited outside for his owner to get out of work and was well-known around Salem, regularly making the newspaper for his adventures. For years, “Ferdie” had city dog license #1, which was advertised to encourage other dog owners to also get their dogs licensed. When Ferdinand got older and was confined to the house, he regularly received cards and gifts from locals who missed seeing him around the city. Ferdinand lived to the age of fourteen.
Louis Gerber, Gerber's Restaurant
During the 1950s, while a new railroad tunnel was being constructed under Washington Street, Gerber’s was only accessible by walking on a wooden plank over a large hole in the ground. But even this could not slow business for the Gerber Brothers. In 1959, with the new tunnel complete, Gerber’s was renovated inside and out and had a grand re-opening that July.
After thirty-years, Louis and Joseph Gerber retired in July 1970 and sold Gerber’s Restaurant to Marvin Berman. The following January, the building that housed Gerber’s erupted in flames. The fire was especially difficult to control due to the below zero temperatures that quickly froze the water sprayed on it. Louis Gerber was heartbroken by the loss of Gerber’s but remained active in the community, overseeing food preparations for local festivals and events. He died unexpectedly in December 1986; he was 81.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections
Images above are from their collections.  

July 29, 2018

Historical Haunts - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Historical Haunts - Things to do in Salem

As you walk through Salem, you can’t help but feel an undeniable magic. The City is alive with stories long passed. Mariners have walked these streets, returning home with treasures from the far east. Nathaniel Hawthorne wandered them, dreaming up his novels. Immigrants dragged their suitcases door to door in search of a familiar language and a piece of the American dream. There are so many tangible connections to the past to uncover, some of them may even surprise you...[1138 more words]

July 25, 2018

From Horse Cars to Buses - Salem, Massachusetts

Electric streetcar turns on to Essex Street from Washington Square East. 1930s.

Salem Street Railroad Company, the city’s first street railway, was incorporated in 1862. This horse car railway system or “horse railroad” continued to grow over the next decade. In 1863 the line connected to the surrounding towns of Peabody and Beverly. South Salem received its own branch in May 1864 and North Salem followed in June 1869.
In 1875, the system was reorganized as Naumkeag Street Railway Company, which made Salem Willows its first addition. This boosted tourism to the already popular waterfront park resulted in added attractions and restaurants in the coming years. During the summer, horse cars could transport as many as ten thousand visitors to and from Salem Willows.
In the 1880s, the railway continued to add lines, including those to Gloucester, Harmony Grove in Salem, Marblehead, North Beverly, Wenham, and Asbury Grove in Hamilton. The fare cost between 5 and 30 cents, depending on destination. A trip from Salem to Wenham took about an hour to complete. In these early days, horse car service was more individualized, allowing for passengers to wave down cars. Conductors often ran errands for residents, delivering groceries or transporting medicine to the sick. By 1887, the Naumkeag Street Railway Company had 105 cars, 390 horses, and 30 miles of track.
In the 1890s, Naumkeag Street Railway Company was acquired by Lynn & Boston Railroad Company, better connecting Salem to Boston through the Lynn line. At this time, electric street cars began to gradually replace the previous horse car system. This change required heavier tracks to be laid and electric cables to be hung over them. As cities were electrified, horses and horse cars were transferred to outlying areas that still used the old system, until they too were modified. In 1901 the Lynn & Boston Railroad Company reorganized as Boston & Northern Street Railway. Electric streetcar service in Salem continued to be consolidated and reorganized, in 1911 becoming Bay State Street Railway Company, and lastly, Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway in 1919.
Buses began to replace streetcar lines in Massachusetts as early as the 1920s, reaching Salem in 1931. Salem’s conversion to an all bus system was complete by 1937, with the last streetcar traveling to Beverly on March 1st of that year.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections
Images above are from their collections.