Holiday Gift Guide #1

Salem, MA, USA


Shopping small this holiday season is a great way to support local businesses and find that perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Salem is filled with shops, museums, and restaurants that all add to the city's unique and magical character. Here are few picks to help you check off your list or treat yourself, while helping our community.

1. What do you get a history buff that loves to cook? A Salem cookbook of course! What Salem Dames Cooked was originally printed in 1911 to support Salem's Esther C. Mack Industrial School, run by the Woman's Friend Society. It features recipes submitted by local women, as well as classic dishes from cookbooks dating back to 1683. Higginson Book Company has a wonderful selection of rare and out of print local history books. 

2. The Witch House candle by Herbal Candle Co. and History by the Sea captures the essence of this famous first period home using an all-natural essential oil blend of bay, sage, chamomile, and pine. This scent was made in partnership with the museum and is inspired by plants that would have been familiar to colonial life. A portion of proceeds are donated to Historic Salem, Inc. to support historic preservation. 

3. Book lover? Historic Streets of Salem, Massachusetts is the latest book by local author and historian Jeanne Stella. Follow along as the author shares lesser-known tales and unique stories of Salem's well-worn paths. Need more books? Wicked Good Books has everything you need, from local authors to classics, and New York Times best sellers. Support Salem's very own independent book shop this holiday season!

4. The House of the Seven Gables is so much more than a historic house museum, it's a community center, a preservation advocate, and an education hub for immigrants seeking ESL and citizenship classes. Purchasing a membership to The Gables not only gets you access to their gorgeous seaside campus, it gets you invites to events such as their member's only 4th of July celebration, and free or reduced tickets to presentations on local history and social reform. A membership is the perfect gift for any Salem lover. 

5. Want to support Salem's oldest businesses, while eating some delicious snacks? Ye Old Pepper Candy Companie's Gilbralters and Black Jacks are a great way to indulge in 19th century Salem and they make great stocking stuffers. Love finding popcorn tins under the tree? Get a batch of E.W. Hobb's world-renowned popcorn. They've been making Salem's favorite treat since 1897.

What We've Lost - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

25 Carlton Street (Built c. 1803)

In June 2015, my then soon-to-be husband and I made the move from my childhood home on Cape Cod to the “Witch City.” At that point, I had been visiting Salem for eight years and like many, had fallen in love with the city’s charm. The winding streets with ancient architecture and vast waterfront all beckoned to be explored. The energy of the seasonally crowded streets and magic of the brick lined promenades made moving to Salem irresistible. We settled in the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood, just steps away from The House of the Seven Gables, where we got engaged a few months earlier.  Prior to moving to our new neighborhood, I began researching the area to quell my excitement.

During my research, I stumbled upon a blog post about the demolition of 25 Carlton Street, one of the oldest structures on the street. The c. 1803 home was built for shipwright, Thomas Magoun during the area’s prosperous maritime age. The modest home met its end in 2014, when it was drowned by a developer who removed the roof prior to a rainstorm. Previously having received backlash from preservationists, this move by the developer seemed like a calculated way to justify the replacement of the historic home with a new build. The plan worked and the 19th century home was soon deemed unsalvageable and demolished. By the time my husband and I moved to the area, the finishing touches were being installed in the luxury condos of the new, towering building. Although I felt the loss of the previous historic home, I thought this incident was rare in such a historic city as Salem.

Unfortunately, over the next five years I would learn that demolition by neglect and the loss of historic architecture in favor of big development was more commonplace in Salem than I could have ever imagined.  This charming, city by the sea was in a constant battle of old and new. Despite the pleas of outspoken citizens, visitors, and historians, when it came to development, Salem’s leadership has seemed to favor new development over preservation and adaptive reuse for decades.

As Salem continues to expand at an alarming rate to cater to its growing residential and visiting population, seeking the same charm and magic that once attracted me, I take a moment of pause to ponder what we’ve lost.

This is just a select handful of buildings in Salem deemed significant by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and ultimately demolished between 2015 and 2020.

331 Lafayette Street (Built c. 1935)
(Salem State University Archives Photograph)

5-7 West Avenue (Built 1886)

65 Washington Street (Built 1976)

219 Washington Street (Built 1926)

231-235 Washington Street (Built c. 1930)

70-90 Boston Street (Built c. 1910)

333 Lafayette Street (Built c. 1880)
(Salem State University Archives Photograph)

Carriage house belonging to 6 Federal Court/95 Federal Street (Built c. 1880)
(City of Salem Photograph)

7 Curtis Street - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA

7 Curtis Street, 1985 (MACRIS SAL.2569)

Historic Salem, Inc. House History - 7 Curtis Street

Horatio B. Perry Gunsmith
and his wife Sarah Ashton
Built c. 1856

The address of Seven Curtis Street is first listed in the city directory in 1857, when it was owned by Horatio B. Perry, a gunsmith. The current home’s exterior contains Georgian elements, a popular style between 1715-1780. However, the home faces North, which is uncharacteristic for a Georgian home. This may be evidence that the home was moved to this site. According to Vijay Joyce, a member of the Salem Historical Commission, the home does contain timber framing, which was still in use in the 1850s. Maps from 1851 and 1872 show a similarly shaped structure positioned flush with Curtis Street. It is possible the home was later turned to face North to create space for additional homes to be built. Based on available evidence, what is now Seven Curtis Street may have previously been referred to as Four Orange Street. Between 1850 and 1856 mariner, Joseph Karier lived at this adjacent address, which disappears from city directories the same year that Seven Curtis Street is first listed. Deeds for Seven Curtis Street cite an 1849 sale of land to Joseph Karier as the origin of ownership.  A connection between Karier and the Perry family is unknown but by September 1856 the ownership of this land was transferred between them and a home was present. By 1874, Seven Curtis Street was in its present, north-facing orientation. 

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