Almshouse and Hospital for Contagious Diseases Burial Ground - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

 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. 

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
Jim McAllister

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.

Collins Cove Condominium Complex, 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. The City is working toward erecting a memorial and informational sign to honor this site.

UPDATE: View the Almshouse Burial Ground Memorial Proposal and Letters of Support


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

126 Bay View Avenue - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

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

Historic Salem Inc. - 126 Bay View Avenue

Built for
Alfred Peabody
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:

Request your own House History:

Frank Cousin's Salem

Salem, MA, USA

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
View full image

Salem, Juniper Point, views, from tower of Pavilion
Salem, Juniper Point, views, from tower of Pavilion
View full image

Salem, 134 Essex Street, Plummer Hall, 1856, interior
Salem, 134 Essex Street, Plummer Hall, 1856, interior (Salem Athenaeum)
View full image

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
View full image

Salem, 27 Gardner Street, William Bickerton house
Salem, 27 Gardner Street, William Bickerton house
View full image
Salem, 4 1/2 Federal Street, Abner Goodell house, interior library
Salem, 4 1/2 Federal Street, Abner Goodell house, interior library
View full image

Salem, North Street from Bridge Street, view, ward 6
Salem, North Street from Bridge Street, view, ward 6
View full image

Salem, 43 Essex Street at Hardy Steet, Edwards Market
Salem, 43 Essex Street at Hardy Steet, Edwards Market
View full image

Salem, 145 Essex Institute, Lynde Block
Salem, 145 Essex Institute, Lynde Block
View full image

Salem, Ward 1, views from Custom House
Salem, Ward 1, views from Custom House
View full image

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!

Resource Guide - Polish Community of Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

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:

Fisherman Statue - Eastport, Maine

Eastport, ME, USA

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.

MACRIS Tutorial

Salem, MA, USA

The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS)  is an informative database of historic properties and landmarks, created by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

MACRIS is a powerful tool for finding information on historic structures, sites, and landmarks. The bulk of their data dates between 1960 and 2000, with periodic updates. It is especially useful in researching the history of your home or business, or just getting to know your neighborhood.

MACRIS does not include information on all historic properties in Massachusetts, nor does it always reflect the most up-to-date information on file at the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Resource Guide - Maps of Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

Image result for map of salem ma
Warren H. Butler, 1930 - Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library

Historical Maps of Salem, Massachusetts

Sanborn Map Key

Rediscovering the lost buildings of Polish Salem

Salem, MA, USA

A home raised on stilts at the head of Derby Wharf, November 1937. (SAMA 14B-120)
Salem Maritime National Historic Site was first conceived of as the Derby Wharf Memorial Project in 1935, following the ratification of the National Historic Sites Act by President Franklin Roosevelt. The project was championed by local resident, Harlan P. Kelsey, a director of the National Parks Association (now the National Parks Conservation Association), who had long advocated the need for a “national shrine” commemorating Salem’s “long extinct shipping glory.”  

With the proposed backing of federal funding to create a park, the City of Salem embarked on securing the land and historic buildings in the Derby Wharf area between Central Wharf and Kosciusko Street, then the heart of Salem’s Polish neighborhood. Unlike the open space we see today, this area, like the rest of Derby Street, was densely packed with multi-family dwellings, businesses, and industrial warehouses.
Through fundraising campaigns, donations, and ownership transfers, Kelsey and the City secured Derby Wharf, Central Wharf, the Hawkes House, the Custom House, the West India Goods Store, Forresters Warehouse, and the Derby House, but this still left multiple buildings in the way of Salem’s grand vision of creating an open park along the waterfront. Through the use of eminent domain, the City offered the owners of these structures their assessed value plus 25% to vacate so that building removal could begin in August 1937.  The official City deed recording the taking by eminent domain states, “Said land is taken for the purpose of constituting a memorial to the sailors of Salem.”
National Park Service reports lead us to believe that the 20 seized structures were then demolished in preparation for the arrival of the National Park Service. But photographs, newspaper articles, and oral histories have led the cultural resources staff at Salem Maritime to believe that a few of the buildings had a different fate. 


View of Derby Wharf Lawn from Custom House showing the “Mystery House” in its original location.
The Polish Falcons Club house is in the background, on Tuckers Wharf. (SAMA-14B-103)

The Mystery House

While cataloging and digitizing Salem Maritime’s photograph collection, Cultural Resource Management intern Jen Ratliff found a photograph that shows the chaos of demolition in the initial stages of the park’s creation. However, it also provided an interesting tid-bit, a single-family house jacked up on stilts at the head of Derby Wharf, contradicting the official site history. Intrigued, Ratliff searched the Salem Maritime photograph collection for further clues and found an additional photo of the house on stilts, as well as photos that show the home in its original location. The house previously sat on what is now the Derby Wharf lawn, an open green space across the street from the Derby House.  

With no information found in official site documents regarding buildings being moved, Ratliff began searching local newspapers on microfilm at the Salem Public Library. There she found an article dated November 17, 1937, in The Salem Evening News, “Removal of House from Derby Wharf to New Location on Jackson Street Attracting Attention and Caused near Traffic Jam at the Norman Street Crossing Last Night.” The article chronicled the house’s move across town, stating: “The moving of a dwelling…has been attracting considerable attention, especially yesterday when the structure was rolled down Mill Hill and across the railroad tracks.” “This added traffic flow caused quite a jam at the crossing during the busy hour between 5 and 6 P.M. when many trains pass through the tunnel. Police officers were placed on duty to clear the tie-ups and after a fashion, everything went smoothly.”  

Further research led to a follow-up article, dated November 26. The article showed the house raised on stilts while awaiting a new foundation at 91 Jackson Street. “Obstacles such as slanting streets, sharp turns and hills mean little or nothing in moving a building. Such conditions have been met in moving a dwelling formerly at Derby Wharf to its new location on a hill at 91 Jackson Street.” Disappointingly, the new address for the house listed by The Salem Evening News is presently a used car lot. Ratliff noted the mention of a hill in the article and investigated the area around 91 Jackson Street. She found a house located on Phelps Street, on a hill directly behind the Jackson Street address. The Phelps Street building however was more substantial than the Derby Wharf house and lacked the side porch seen in the 1937 photos. Utilizing Google Streetview, Ratliff was able to get an aerial view of the structure. This vantage point showed a change in the roofline, indicating that there had been a sizable addition to the home. The previous roofline better matched the Phelps Street home’s footprint with that of the Derby Wharf house. Real estate listings for the address also provided a clue. The home is recorded as being built in 1938, which would have been the first year it appeared on tax records in that location. The compiled evidence indicates that this dwelling previously thought to have been lost in 1937 is still extant. 

A three family tenement is move from Derby Wharf lawn a lot further down Derby Street,
across from Bentley Street. (SAMA 18B-189)

The Three-Story Tenement

The discovery of the still extant home on Phelps Street led Jen Ratliff to the search for additional buildings that may still survive today. Another photo was found in the photograph collection, this time showing a three-story building on jacks in the middle of Derby Street.
As with the previous structure, details of this building’s move were not recorded in Salem Maritime’s site history and additional research had to be done. An article was found in The Salem Evening News dated December 14, 1937. The article describes the moving of a three-tenement building from one lot on Derby Street to another, a short distance away. “Although the building only has a short distance to go, it is a ticklish job, as it is a narrow squeeze from the start of the job to its finish.” The article notes that prior to the relocation, a tree was removed from Derby Street to make way for the home, which many neighbors objected to.  The building previously stood on the Derby Wharf lawn near the intersection of Derby and Kosciusko Streets., not far from the single family “mystery house.” Today, the three-story building sits adjacent to Bentley Street, only a few blocks away from its original location.

There is little information to explain what happened to the building that previously stood on the lot, prior to the move of the Derby Wharf tenement. According to Historic Salem’s house history, there was a residence built in 1912 for Louis Pett, a shoe merchant.  This building is also listed as having been a three-family tenement, taking the place of a previous single-family home, built c. 1782. 

  The Polish Falcons Clubhouse on Tuckers Wharf  (SAMA 14B-307)

The Polish Falcons Clubhouse

In November 1937, Congressman and ex-mayor of Salem, George J. Bates, addressed the Armistice Day banquet held at the Polish Falcons Association club which sat on Kosciusko Street, near the head of Tuckers Wharf. Bates, who was a strong advocate for the creation of a memorial park, thanked the Falcons and the Polish community for their support of him and the project, saying that it would “not only be one of the best projects in city but one of the best of the country.”   This was the last event held in the clubhouse, which was the only building remaining in the once densely settled area around Derby Wharf.

Works Progress Bulletin, 1938

In the days following the banquet, The Polish Falcons relocated to the building of a former jute mill at the corner of Cousins and English streets. The City chose to keep their former clubhouses function, opting to relocate it to the newly opened Collins Cove Playground, less than two miles away. To do so, the building was placed on a barge and towed through Salem Harbor, around Salem Willows, to Collins Cove. Once placed on its new foundation, the building was renamed the Collins Cove Playground Field House. For nearly three decades, the Field House hosted many social events, associations, and community gatherings before being demolished around 1966.

View of Derby Wharf and Lawn after being cleared.
The Polish Falcons clubhouse remains visible on the far left. (SAMA 014B-599) 

These three structures are just a few examples of the many buildings that previously occupied the land around Derby Wharf. It is unclear why these few buildings were saved while others were demolished or why their movement was not better documented. Often research projects such as this rarely find all the answers but instead serve as a reminder to never stop asking questions. 

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Overseen by Emily A. Murphy, Ph.D.
All photographs are courtesy of the National Park Service.

32 Forrester Street - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

32 Forrester Street

Historic Salem Inc. - 32 Forrester Street

Built for 
Lizzie and Samuel Frank Masury



The house at 32 Forrester Street was constructed in 1884 in the Queen Anne style. Queen Anne architecture reached the peak of its popularity between 1880 and 1900 and is known for its highly decorative accents, wrap-around porches, and asymmetry. This style appears throughout Salem but is most densely seen on Boardman and Lafayette streets.

Until the late 19th century, Forrester Street extended from 20 Essex Street through what is now known as Washington Square South. The land that now connects Forrester Street to Webb Street, like much of the surrounding area, was previously industrial. The area was filled in around 1872 and steadily transitioned to residential property until 1910. The neighborhood was highly sought after for its proximity to Salem’s downtown and the city’s industrial and maritime industries.

Read more:

Request your own House History:

Clarence Murphy - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

“His infatuation for the green cloth and wonderful maintenance of nerve was noted and quoted, it making no apparent difference in his demeanor whether luck favored him or fortune on him frowned.” 
- The Boston Globe on Clarence Murphy  (February 18, 1896)

Clarence Murphy was born in Salem in 1856 to Irish parents. He was well-respected in the community, earning a job as a clerk at the Salem Savings Bank in 1880 and serving as treasurer of the Old Men’s Home (John Bertram House). He was active in local sporting groups and was even celebrated for owning the first bicycle in the city. Murphy was known to have enjoyed yachting and ran in affluent social circles, which took him to Boston in the summer of 1893. It was there that he met his wife, described as a “well-known belle” from South Boston; they married only a month after meeting. She accompanied him to Salem but the couple frequently visited her family in Boston.

Six months later, shortly before 11:00 am on December 2, 1893, Salem Savings Bank President Edward D. Ropes and Treasurer Charles N. Simonds politely confronted Clarence Murphy, about some peculiar entries in the bank’s ledgers. During their questioning, Murphy slipped out of the room and quickly made his way to a bank drawer. He stuffed $500 into his pocket before grabbing his overcoat. Ropes and Simonds, who had been waiting for Murphy’s return, looked out of an office window to see him running down Higginson Alley toward Washington Street.

Ropes and Simonds chased after Murphy but he jumped a gate and was quickly out of reach. He headed down Washington Street toward the Boston & Maine Railroad Depot, presumably to catch the 11:20 am train to Boston. He then doubled-back, instead running to Essex House, a hotel with stable and livery at 176 Essex Street. He requested his horse and to asked borrow a light buggy, which the proprietor, Mr. Davis, obliged. It is said that Murphy then drove up Essex Street and headed toward Bridge Street. Before leaving, Murphy sent a note and cash to his wife by messenger. Around 3:30 pm, Murphy had boarded his horse and buggy at Conant Stable in Lowell, about 25 miles outside of Salem. That would be the last time anyone would see him.

In the days following Murphy’s escape, thousands of dollars were withdrawn by concerned patrons as the bank quickly tried to calculate the total damage of Murphy’s embezzlement. Within a year, over 12,000 depositors would submit their books for verification of their accounts with the bank. The story of Murphy’s crime spread nation-wide, as a $500 reward for Murphy’s whereabouts was posted. Over the next few months, the Boston Globe speculated on Murphy’s destination, predicting Canada, Mexico, and South America as options.

In March 1894, the bank made headlines again when it reported that its late treasurer William H. Simonds, Jr. had also embezzled from the bank. Simonds died less than two months before Murphy fled Salem and a review of his books revealed irregularities. Simonds had worked at the bank since 1865 and had been treasurer for thirteen years when he died. Clarence Murphy, who was named a trustee of Simond’s will, appeared to confirm this suspicion in a letter that was forwarded to a friend in Salem after his escape. Murphy claimed that he confronted Simonds about missing funds, and then was recruited by him to help cover up his misdeeds. Murphy ultimately began skimming himself, which in turn was concealed by Simonds. Upon Simonds death, Murphy realized that it was only a matter of time before he would be discovered by a new treasurer. After William H. Simonds, Jr. was publicly accused of fraud, his widow filed a deed conveying her home on Washington Square to the bank as repayment; the house had an estimated worth of $7,800.

After over two years on the run, Clarence Murphy was apprehended in San Francisco on January 31, 1896. Murphy had been living under the pseudonym of C.M. Clark. Three weeks prior, a detective named Gaston Strauss contacted Salem City Marshal John W. Hart, asking if the reward for the capture of Clarence Murphy was still valid. Hart replied that the moment Murphy was in his custody, the reward would be paid. Strauss notified San Francisco police who then apprehended Murphy. While in custody with his hands in cuffs, Murphy opened and jumped through a window to the pavement below, a drop of fourteen feet. Two shots were fired by police at Murphy but missed. He was recaptured a short time later and placed in a steel cell.

Murphy’s capture made the front page of the Boston Globe; his return to Salem and subsequent trial were closely followed by the press. The Globe interviewed Murphy for three hours while on the way back to Salem, during which he admitted that he had been stealing from the bank for eighteen months and began after discovering Simond’s fraud. He credited his own downfall to an addiction to poker playing, which worsened once in California. Clarence Murphy was returned to Salem on February 17, 1896, on the 7:10 pm train. Over 1,000 people turned out to witness the event. The Boston Globe reported, “Murphy’s reappearance in Salem after an absence of 36 months and 15 days recalls a statement made by him soon after he fled from the bank that it would be a cold day when he returned, and the readings of the thermometer tonight showed that prediction was accurate.”

Clarence Murphy’s bail was set at $25,000 while he awaited trial, which began on May 26, 1896. He was charged with embezzling $47,000 from Salem Savings Bank. Clarence A. Evans, a fellow clerk at the bank testified against him. On May 29th, Murphy was found guilty and sentenced to 10-15 years. He was paroled in 1905 and his sentence reduced to 10 years for good behavior. He moved to the home of his brother in Beverly, where he lived out the remainder of his life. Clarence Murphy died in 1942 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Beverly's Central Cemetery.

Recommended Reading
- Salem Savings Bank
- Asiatic Building

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

Blizzard of 1978 - Salem, Masscahusetts

Salem, MA, USA
Massachusetts National Guard outside the Hawthorne Hotel. 1978

The Blizzard of '78 formed on Sunday, February 5, 1978 with most of its snowfall occurring between the morning of February 6th and the evening of February 7th. In total, the Greater Boston area received an average of 27 inches of snow. The damage for the effected Northeast region was more than $520 million (estimated to be $1.95 billion today.) Salem took weeks to recover and the National Guard was brought in to help clear roads, assist emergency personnel, and aid in search and rescue missions.

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

Bewitched - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

Still shot of Bewitched in front of The Witch House

In June 1970, Hollywood came to Salem with the filming of Bewitched. The cast and crew stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel while filming in the city and nearby Gloucester. They filmed some interiors in the Hotel, most notably a scene with the lobby’s elevators. The Hawthorne Motor Hotel, as it was called at the time, appears in name and can be seen in the background during travel scenes but the Hotel’s façade was replaced with a Hollywood set. Other notable Salem locations that appear in the Salem Saga episodes include: the Witch House, The House of the Seven Gables and Hawthorne Boulevard.

On July 15, 2005, a bronze Bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery’s character Samantha was unveiled in Lappin Park to a crowd of 1500 spectators. The unveiling was a collaboration between the city and the TV Land network. Bill Asher, the late Montgomery’s ex-husband was in attendance for the event, along with Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha.

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

Spenser: For Hire - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

Spenser: For Hire scene in front of the West India Goods Store

Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988) starring Robert Urich (Spenser) and Avery Brooks (Hawk) chronicled two fictional detectives as they solved crimes in the Greater Boston area. In Fall 1986, the show filmed in Salem, Massachusetts, where the two helped a 12-year-old girl face her nightmares and stop a string of arson attacks. Production filmed in multiple areas around Salem including Chestnut Street and Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where the West India Goods Store was transformed into an occult shop. The episode “Shadowsight” (S2 E9) premiered on December 13, 1986.

Spenser: For Hire,“Shadowsight” (S2 E9) - Warner Brothers
Short URLs:,,