The Peirce-Nichols House - Salem, Massachusetts

Image Above: Old House Online
The Peirce-Nichols House located at 80 Federal Street in Salem, Massachusetts, is a representation of transitional architecture between the Georgian and Federal styles. Designed by famed Salem architect Samuel McIntire, the late-Georgian home was constructed in 1792 and later revitalized by McIntire in the Federal style to celebrate the marriage of Sarah Peirce to George Nichols. The property features a fence in front of the home that highlights McIntire’s signature hand-carved urn ornamentation. The house was later restored in 1920 by Colonial Revival architect William G. Rantoul.
The home was originally built for Jerathmiel Peirce who was part owner of a 171-foot, three-masted Salem East Indiaman called Friendship, a recreation of which now resides at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The ship was built in 1796 and was used primarily for trade. The Friendship traveled the world importing and exporting exotic spices and coffee until its capture in the war of 1812. During Jerathmiel Peirce’s ownership of the Peirce-Nichols house, the property line extended as far back as the North River, approximately 500 feet from his home, allowing Peirce to dock the Friendship at the end of his property.
The postcards below feature George Nichols’ granddaughter, Charlotte Sanders Nichols. She resided in the home until her death in 1935, which ended the Nichols family presence on the estate. These photos show Charlotte in the early 20th-century seated in front of the home's carriage house, which still stands. In the photos, she is showing a young girl a doll. It is unclear whether the doll was hers. Was she the photographer's great-grandmother referred to on the card or was she showing the girl her own great-grandmother's doll?

In 1917, Charlotte and her two sisters, Augusta and Martha, donated their stately mansion to the Essex Institute (Now Peabody Essex Museum) with the stipulation that they could remain in the home. Charlotte, the youngest, was the last Nichols family occupant; she passed away in 1935.

Postcard Images: Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

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