October 31, 2019

Almshouse and Hospital for Contagious Diseases Cemetery - Salem, Massachusetts


 Frank Cousins, Almshouse on Salem Neck, c. 1890. Digital Commonwealth, Phillips Library.

The last almshouse to be built in Salem, opened in 1816 on Collins Cove. It was large — five stories — and was designed by Charles Bulfinch of Boston. To this day one of the most famous architects in American history, Bulfinch designed Faneuil Hall, the State House, the “ether dome” building of Mass General Hospital, University Hall in Harvard Yard, and the layout of Boston Common. As U.S. Commissioner of Public Buildings, Bulfinch designed important features of the Capitol Building in Washington and oversaw the final 10 years of that building’s construction.


Excerpt from 1815 report requesting a new Almshouse
City of Salem Archives
Bulfinch’s almshouse was intended to house 100 residents, many of whom were expected to work the adjacent farm to offset the cost of their stay. In 1884, after years of overcrowding, an additional building, designed by W.D. Dennis, was built on the property to serve as a hospital for contagious diseases. In all, the site was active for over a century and burials are often referenced in city documents. This cemetery would have served as the only option for patients who were unable to afford a funeral or that had no family to claim their remains. 


Hospital for Contagious Diseases, c. 1980
Unknown source

The almshouse building was razed in 1954, and the adjacent hospital in the 1980s to make way for the Collins Cove Condominium Complex. Many locals recall playing among the headstones as children while the site sat unused. During construction of the condo complex, at least five headstones were reported to have been uncovered, yet their whereabouts are unknown. The burial site remains unmarked and is only identifiable by the remnant of a single slate headstone. The names of those who rest here have yet to be discovered, though with additional research their identities may be revealed.

Approximate location of cemetery, 2019

UPDATE: Jen Ratliff, with the assistance of Historic Salem, Inc. has reached out to the City of Salem and Collins Cove Condo Association to request the burial ground be properly marked and honored. This request received the support of the Historical Commission on 11/6/2019 and will be reviewed by the Cemetery Commission on 11/13/2019 (Postponed.)


*Please respect this site and do not trespass on private property. 

August 8, 2019

126 Bay View Avenue - Salem, Massachusetts


126 Bay View Avenue, 1989 (MACRIS SAL.3484)

Historic Salem Inc. - 126 Bay View Avenue

Built for
Alfred Peabody
Merchant
c. 1876

The Juniper Point neighborhood was conceived of by Salem grocer Daniel B. Gardner, Jr., who purchased 45 acres of former farm land in September 1875, at the cost of $21,000. The area had long been used as a summer retreat, with many Salemites and tourists camping along the waterfront in tents. Gardner filed a plan with the City for cottage lots in October 1875 and in November submitted an updated plan which also included stable lots, two parks, and a public hall. The proposal created over 50 residential lots, more than 20 of which were sold in a single day, November 6, 1875. More lots were auctioned off in the summer of 1876 as the neighborhood expanded. The deed for each cottage stipulated that “no shop, store, public house, boarding house, saloon or stable shall ever be erected on said lot nor any building thereon used for any of said purposes.” The deeds continue to state, “that a strip thereof ten feet wide next to the high-water mark shall forever be kept open free and unobstructed as a public sidewalk or promenade.” These stipulations have been upheld in perpetuity.

Read more: www.historicsalem.org



Request your own House History: www.historicsalem.org

June 25, 2019

Frank Cousin's Salem


The Phillips Library recently announced the digitization of their Frank Cousins and Herman Parker collections, now available on Digital Commonwealth. In celebration of this, I have teamed up with Dr. Donna Seger of Streets of Salem to compare our top ten picks from the over 2,000 photographs dated between 1865-1914. I'm very curious to see if we choose any of the same images! 

Here are a few of my favorite photographs from the Frank Cousins Collection:

Group, John R. Treadwell, janitor and John J. Connors, constable, Peabody Museum
Group, John R. Treadwell, janitor and John J. Connors, constable, Peabody Museum
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Salem, Juniper Point, views, from tower of Pavilion
Salem, Juniper Point, views, from tower of Pavilion
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Salem, 134 Essex Street, Plummer Hall, 1856, interior
Salem, 134 Essex Street, Plummer Hall, 1856, interior (Salem Athenaeum)
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Salem, 204-206 Essex Street, Ezekiel Hersey Derby house, 1800, by Samuel McIntire
Salem, 204-206 Essex Street, Ezekiel Hersey Derby house, 1800, by Samuel McIntire
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Salem, 27 Gardner Street, William Bickerton house
Salem, 27 Gardner Street, William Bickerton house
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Salem, 4 1/2 Federal Street, Abner Goodell house, interior library
Salem, 4 1/2 Federal Street, Abner Goodell house, interior library
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Salem, North Street from Bridge Street, view, ward 6
Salem, North Street from Bridge Street, view, ward 6
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Salem, 43 Essex Street at Hardy Steet, Edwards Market
Salem, 43 Essex Street at Hardy Steet, Edwards Market
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Salem, 145 Essex Institute, Lynde Block
Salem, 145 Essex Institute, Lynde Block
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Salem, Ward 1, views from Custom House
Salem, Ward 1, views from Custom House
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Don't forget to see what Dr. Seger picked over on Streets of Salem and then browse the collections yourself and let us know your top picks!



June 5, 2019

Resource Guide - Polish Community of Salem, Massachusetts



Polish Industrial Bank on Derby Street, c. 1920s
Salem State University Archives and Special Collections

In the early 20th century, Salem's Historic Derby Street Neighborhood was predominantly Polish. Attracted to job opportunities in the city’s mills and factories, Polish immigrants began arriving in Salem around 1890 and by 1911, Poles comprised about 8% of the city’s overall population. Religion played a strong role in the Polish community and as the number of Polish Catholics in Salem grew, the need for a permanent house of worship became apparent. Herbert Street and Union Street became the heart of the Polish Catholic presence in the city, after the opening of St. John the Baptist Church, a parochial school, convent, and rectory. St. John the Baptist’s Reverend John Czubek was a central figure in this community, marrying or baptizing many of Salem’s Poles. 

The new church increased the settlement of Polish immigrants in the neighborhood and multiple single-family homes were converted or replaced with multi-family tenements to house the growing population. The neighborhood became a tight knit hub of all Polish activities. Multiple shops, restaurants, and social clubs lined Derby Street and its offshoots, catering to Poles from all regions and religions. The House of the Seven Gables, the namesake of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel, played a crucial role in this community. Caroline Emmerton opened the museum in 1910 to support her adjacent settlement house, which provided classes and workshops to the local immigrant community, a role the museum still honors to this day.

In 1976, The Historic Derby Street Neighborhood was designated a National Historic District due in large part to the hard work of neighborhood residents, led by sisters Alice and Dolores Jordan.

Resources for the history of Poles in Salem, Massachusetts:

May 19, 2019

Fisherman Statue - Eastport, Maine


Fisherman Statue in Eastport Maine
The city of Eastport, Maine, thrived in previous centuries as the easternmost trading port of the U. S. and was known for its sardine canning industry. In 1886, the city, like many, suffered a devastating fire and its economy has had ebbs and flows ever since.

This statue was erected in 2001 during the filming of the TV show, Murder in Small Town X. An early reality show,  Murder in Small Town X brought ten contestants to the town of "Sunrise" to solve fictional murder mysteries.

After filming wrapped, the statue was left behind and began to deteriorate. In 2004, Eastport citizens rallied to restore and preserve the statue, dedicating it in the memory of Ángel Juarbe, Jr., the winning contestant on the TV show, who was a firefighter killed during the 9/11 attacks. Which occurred only a week after the show's finale aired.