Dating the Past - Civil War Revenue Stamps



Courtesy: Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

During the American Civil War many soldiers took with them mementos from home, including photographs of loved ones. Photography had improved dramatically over the previous decade leading up to the war, both in quality and accessibility. This created a boom in portrait photography during antebellum that still continues.

In order to finance the war, the Union government instituted the Revenue Act of 1862, which taxed luxury items. Photographers were required to collect tax for each image and to show the tax was paid by affixing a stamp to the back and cancelling it with their initials and date. Although photographs were one of the most taxed items, photography did not have its own stamp. Often stamps for telegraphs and playing cards were used. 

On August 1, 1866 the tax on photography was repealed, making these revenue stamps indicative of the Civil War era. They do not appear on images prior to or after the war, making them easy to date. 

This particular image was taken in the heart of downtown Salem, Massachusetts by Essex Street photographer, D.W. Bowdoin. The 3 cent stamp attached to the back indicates the keepsake was purchased for between 25 cents and 50 cents. 

Java Head (1923) - Salem, Massachusetts

Courtesy: Streets of Salem
The silent motion picture Java Head, released in February 1923, is based on the 1919 book by Joseph Hergesheimer. The story chronicles the tragic marriage between Salem ship captain Gerrit Ammidon played by Alan Roscoe and a Chinese princess portrayed by Leatrice Joy.

Java Head was filmed at many locations in Salem mentioned in the book, including Derby Wharf, Central Wharf, the Custom House, Hardy Street and Salem Common. During the month of filming, the Salem Evening News reported daily on the crew's progress, stating "never before has this city been picked as the location for a moving picture."

Courtesy: Salem State University Archives & Special Collections
The first scenes of Java Head were filmed on October 12 and 13, 1922 outside 26 Hardy Street (nonextant.) The location was chosen based on Hergesheimer's book, which named the home as the residence of Edward Dunsack, played by Raymond Hatton.

$75,000 of the film's $200,000 budget was allocated to filming in Salem, the crew began restoring Derby Wharf to its 1840's glory in early October 1922. Alterations included: stabilizing the neglected wharf, building several warehouses, covering rail lines and placing cobblestone. Ships brought in from nearby Gloucester and the whaler Charles W. Morgan from New Bedford were docked at the wharf. Studio artists rendered a large painted backdrop to conceal the mills of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co. in the distance. 


Courtesy: Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Like 75% of the silent films made in Hollywood, the 1923 version of Java Head has been lost. Only a few still photographs exist. In 1934, however, another version of Java Head was made, set in Bristol, England, and starring the Asian-American actress Anna May Wong. This version is still available. 



*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Edited by Emily A. Murphy, Ph.D. 

Hawthorne Hotel - Salem, Massachusetts

Images courtesy of Salem State University Archives and Special Collections

The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts came to be as the result of a community effort begun on May 27, 1921 at a Salem Rotary Club meeting. It was then that George Hooper, Salem Laundry owner, lobbied the importance of building a hotel in Salem. At the time, Salem was bustling with tourists and businessmen, who were unable to find lodging and would therefore leave the city, stifling Salem’s economy. Following this meeting, the Rotary Club appointed Frank Poor of the Hygrade Lamp Company (Sylvania) to assist Hooper in drawing up a proposal.

Incorporated on August 27, 1923, the Salem Hotel Corporation began with a 52-member committee consisting of Salem business owners and philanthropists who all believed in the importance of building a hotel in the city. In July of that year, fundraising for the new hotel kicked off with a group of 175 volunteer businessmen, all strategically trained to sells stocks by the Hockenbury Co. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was brought in to manage the campaign. The volunteers were divided into 16 competitive teams. A rally was held at the Salem YMCA on July 16, 1923 to celebrate the beginning of the fundraiser. Daily meetings continued there to discuss sales results, which were posted on a large billboard in Town House Square. Results were also advertised in the committee’s “Ho! Tell!” literature. On the first day alone, $500,000 was raised, more than half of the original $750,000 goal. By the end of the week long campaign, the total raised was $527,000.

Following the fundraiser, planning for the new hotel began with location proposals. The Franklin Building, sitting at the corner of Essex Street and Washington Square was offered by the Salem Marine Society with the condition that a room would be built for exclusive use by the society. 

The Franklin Building was razed and construction began on the hotel in June 1924 with contractors Pitman and Brown and architect Phillip Horton Smith, of Smith and Walker, in Boston. Shortly before the hotel’s completion, an additional $90,000 was raised to expand the ballroom and reduce the hotel’s mortgage. Members of Salem Hotel Corp. donated goods from their businesses. Hygrade Lamp Company supplied light bulbs and Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co, provided sheets.

Inspired by the success of the hotel’s fundraising, an additional $10,000 was raised for the Hawthorne Memorial Association, which was looking to buy a statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Bela Lyon Pratt from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, with plans to place it on the newly completed Hawthorne Boulevard, adjacent to the hotel. The statue was purchased and dedicated in December 1925. The Hawthorne Memorial Association’s chairman, Judge Alden White, suggested the hotel be named in honor of Nathaniel Hawthorne, as it was situated near so many significant places from the author’s time in Salem.

Earlier than expected, the Hawthorne Hotel opened to much fanfare, which kicked off with a multi-day celebration. On June 21, 1925 a parade was held that included the Salem Cadet Band, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem Rotary Club, and other local organizations. After the parade, Frank Poor and Mayor George Bates raised the American flag for the first time atop the roof of the new hotel.

The celebration continued with private parties for stockholders and contractors. On July 23, 1925, a banquet was held in the new ballroom to celebrate the public grand opening of the Hawthorne Hotel. Over 400 people were in attendance and dined on delicacies of the time, including turtle soup. The Salem Evening News reported that in a single day, as many as 2,500 people toured the hotel during its opening week. Just a few short months after opening, the Hawthorne Hotel hosted its first wedding. Lucretia Johnson Perkins wed William Russell Burns on October 17, 1925. The couple had met while Burns was working as one of the principle architects during the hotel’s construction.

In the late 1940’s, the hotel purchased the Crowninshield-Bentley House at 106 Essex Street, located directly behind the Hotel. The house was built in 1724 for Captain John Crowninshield and was home to the Crowninshield family for multiple generations. The house has additional historical significance due to its connection with Reverend William Bentley, who boarded with the family from 1791 until his death in 1819.

In 1959, the Crowninshield-Bentley House was donated by the hotel to the Essex Institute (now Peabody Essex Museum), which moved the building to 126 Essex Street. At this time, in order to modernize, the hotel changed its name to Hawthorne Motor Hotel and added a parking lot in the Crowninshield-Bentley House’s previous location.

The hotel continued to thrive as a local gathering place, hosting weddings, and community functions. In the 1960’s, the hotel began offering dance lessons in the ballroom with legendary Salem instructor, Harriet James. Large annual celebrations showcased the student’s abilities and were well attended.

In June 1970, Hollywood came to Salem with the filming of Bewitched. The cast and crew stayed at the hotel while filming in the city and nearby Gloucester, even filming some interiors in the hotel, most notably in the lobby’s elevators. The Hawthorne Motor Hotel, as it was called, appears in name and can be seen in the background during travel scenes however, the hotel’s facade was replaced with a Hollywood set.

Towards the end of the 1970’s, the hotel once again altered its name, this time to The Hawthorne Inn, which it remained until 1989 before finally reverting back The Hawthorne Hotel.

Hawthorne HotelOn October 30, 1990, a séance was held in the Hawthorne Hotel’s grand ballroom in hope of summoning the spirit of Harry Houdini on the 64th anniversary of his death. Despite being unsuccessful, this séance lead to the introduction of the annual Halloween Party, which premiered in 1991. The month leading up to Halloween is now the hotel’s busiest month, as it coincides with Salem's Haunted Happenings celebration.

In 2003, the Hawthorne Hotel purchased the Suzannah Flint House located behind its parking lot on Essex Street. The home had previously served as a bed and Breakfast. Upon acquiring the Suzannah Flint House, it was discovered that the house had been misnamed for one that had stood nearby. In 2011, the Suzannah Flint House was renamed for Fidelia Bridges, a famous painter who had once resided there. The building now serves as a guest house for the hotel. 



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

Short URLs: goo.gl, mcaf.ee, cli.gs