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.

The Joshua Ward House - Salem, Massachusetts
The Joshua Ward House, designed by Samuel McIntire, is a Georgian style building featuring Federal style interior details. The home was built between 1784 and 1788 on land that previously belonged to George Corwin, the sheriff of Essex County during the Witch Trials of 1692. The Joshua Ward House with its sloping front yard would have once overlooked Salem Harbor and Ward Wharf, which over the centuries has been filled in to expand Salem’s downtown. Joshua Ward, a ship owner, merchant, and rum distiller would have watched as trade ships returned to Salem from the West Indies with spices and molasses, ingredients vital to his distillery.
On October 29, 1789, Joshua Ward hosted President George Washington, who was visiting Salem during a tour of New England and spent a night at the Ward home. Upon Joshua Ward’s death in 1825, the house was transformed into a hotel, appropriately named Washington Hotel.
In the late 1970s, the Joshua Ward House underwent extensive preservation and restoration. The work was spearheaded by Salem architect Staley McDermet and paid for with grants provided by the Salem Redevelopment Authority. In 1978, the Joshua Ward House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is also part of the Downtown Salem District, a national historic district that was established in 1983.
In 1994 the home was purchased by Robert Murphy, an antiquarian book dealer and owner of Higginson Book Company, who headquartered his business out of the Ward House.
In 2015, The Joshua Ward House once again was transformed into a hotel, fittingly called The Merchant.The hotel boasts newly remodeled and painted rooms that harken back to the time of Joshua Ward’s ownership but with a modern style.

Postcard images: Salem State University Archives & Special Collections
Photograph courtesy of The Merchant

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

Charlotte Forten in Salem, Massachusetts

            In November 1853 at the age of 16, Charlotte Forten, the fourth generation of a wealthy and influential free black family arrived in Salem, Massachusetts to stay at the home of Charles Lenox Remond and his family at 9 Dean Street (present day Flint Street.) [1] The Remond’s were abolitionist and previous neighbors of Charlotte and her family in Pennsylvania, who relocated to desegregated Salem. Upon her arrival in Salem, Charlotte enrolled at the Higginson Grammar School located on Broad Street, [2] under the guidance of principal and mentor Mary Shepard. [3] The private school for girls, unlike those in Forten’s native Pennsylvania, was integrated; offering a higher form of education to freed blacks, a strong concern of Charlotte’s father.
National Women's History Museum
            In May of 1854, Forten began keeping a written diary of her day-to-day life that resulted in a series of journals, spanning a decade, these illustrates the experiences of a prominent, freed black woman in northern antebellum and Civil War era America. Charlotte’s journals cover pivotal moments in the abolitionist movement and capture her eloquent voice of activism.
            Charlotte Forten graduated from the Higginson Grammar School in March of 1855. A poem of Forten’s titled “A Parting Hymn” was awarded best of her class and chosen to be recited at the school commencement ceremony. [4] After her completion of grammar school, Forten enrolled in Salem Normal School, located at 1 Broad Street. [5] That same month, a poem of Charlotte’s, “To W.L.G. (William Lloyd Garrison) on Reading his ’Chosen Queen’” was published in Liberator Magazine, a periodical focused on black radicalism and progress for black Americans. In September of that year, Charlotte joined Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, which held regular lecture series at Salem’s Lyceum and Mechanic Hall.[6]
            A month prior to Charlotte’s graduation from Salem Normal School, she accepted a teaching position at Epes Grammar School, located at Aborn Street in Salem. [7] Salem Normal School’s commencement ceremony, similar to that of Higginson Grammar School, featured a poem read by Charlotte Forten, this one titled “Poem for Salem Normal School Graduation.” Charlotte continued her teaching position at Epes until June of 1857, when she left for a month to return to Pennsylvania to recuperate following a respiratory tract illness, a pattern that would occur frequently over the next several years.  In December of 1857, Charlotte relocated from the Remond family home on Dean Street to live with Caroline Remond Putnam and her husband at Higginson Square.  Only a few short months later, Charlotte returned to Pennsylvania, again due to poor health, where she remained for a year. [8] In that time she continued to submit her writing to local and national publications and was recognized in the Christian Recorder, National Anti-Slavery Standard and Anglo-African Magazine. [9]
            In 1859, Forten returned to Salem, where she had accepted a position at her alma-mater Higginson Grammar School. On January 14, 1860, Forten’s poem “The Slave Girl’s Prayer” was published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Over the next two years Charlotte rotated between living in Philadelphia and Salem, continuing to teach in both cities. [10]
            Having closely followed the onset and progression of the Civil War, Charlotte returned to Philadelphia in September of 1862 in order to apply for the Port Royal Relief Association, an experimental program sponsored by the U.S. Government in an attempt to educate and rehabilitate the thousands of freed slaves that were left displaced in South Carolina due to the war. On October 22, 1862 she embarked on her journey with the association. Ever the diarist, Forten continued to chronicle her life while stationed on the Sea Islands. These chronicles would be published in multiple installments in the Atlantic Monthly and Liberator. Charlotte remained on the Sea Islands teaching and volunteering as a nurse until May of 1864, a year prior to the end of the war. She returned to Philadelphia to continue writing, later accepting a position with the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington D.C., where she would meet her husband Reverend Francis Grimk√©.  Charlotte’s writing and activism continued until her death in 1914 [11]
            Charlotte Forten Grimk√©’s legacy lives on through her diaries, the results of her activism and, through the recognition of Salem Normal School (present day Salem State University) who’s focus on diversity and leadership in excellence dates back to Charlotte’s attendance.

Read more and view artifacts relating to the life of Charlotte Forten

 Forten, Charlotte L., and Brenda E. Stevenson. The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988

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