Holiday Gift Guide #2

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. The Woman's Friend Society has been supporting and empowering women since 1876. This year they are offering a beautiful limited edition ornament of their famed Emmerton House to new or renewing members that make an end of year donation before December 15th. Don't miss out on this stunning gift and opportunity to continue this impactful mission! 

2. Historic Salem, Inc's annual Christmas in Salem house tours have gone virtual this year! Stay warm and cozy while getting an inside look at the city's most stunning and unique homes and get a little gift while you're at it. Once again HSI has partnered with Black and Brindle to create these adorable mini house plaque ornaments. The perfect present for the history lover or new home owner on your list.

3. Speaking of Christmas in Salem, History by the Sea and Herbal Candle Co. partnered with Historc Salem, Inc. to create a deliciously fragrant candle inspired by this annual Salem tradition. The scent takes cues from the classic holiday orange pomander and has an all-natural essential oil blend of orange, clove, cinnamon, and chamomile.  It’s an uplifting aroma that will keep your holiday season bright and merry! (Psst. Salem residents, use code: SALEMFREE for free Etsy shipping) Bonus: a portion of the proceeds are donated directly to Historic Salem to support their mission. The History by the Sea candle collection is also available at Moody's Home + Gifts

4. Salem has an incredibly rich history with roots in the spice trade. Past centuries saw the city's wharves brimming with exotic spices. Salem Spice on Pickering Wharf helps keep this tradition alive, offering a large assortment of spices. herbs, and blends that you can't help but love. My pantry is filled with their jars but my must-have is their Hawaiian Alaea Salt, once you try it, you'll never want to use another salt again. Get a few for yourself and the cooks in your life.

5. There are so many amazing artists capturing this city's charm but one of my favorite pieces are the historic house paintings on natural wood by Lucia Loveless at Coon's Card and Gift Shop. The amount of detail in each painting is incredible and the resin finish makes them extra durable, so you or your loved one can enjoy them anywhere! Also, did you know Coon's dates back to 1953? You're not only shopping small but supporting a part of Salem's history!

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)

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