A Willows Cottage

I was sad to see a request for a waiver of our city’s Demolition Delay ordinance on the agenda of the Salem Historic Commission this week, sad but not surprised. The request was made by owners of a beautifully-sited cottage in the Juniper Point neighborhood of Salem Willows. This is a neighborhood of once-seasonal Victorian cottages that were  occupied only in the summer, but are now primarily homes to year-round residents. This transition has been hard on the architecture:  people need more room if they are living in a house year-round, and they need more amenities. Given the neighborhood’s proximity to the water, people also want their homes to facilitate better views, thus they build them up and out. I’ve seen some terrible things done to Willows cottages: complete demolition, not-very-sensitive additions, and roof dormer windows filled in to create a top-heavy house that looks like it might topple over at any moment. But in the case of this cottage the culprit was a late-summer fire: it has looked forlorn ever since.

Willows 019-001

Willows 012-001

The house was built about 1885 according to the inventory on MACRIS, and due to its location–on a corner lot adjacent to beach, park, and ocean, it features prominently in many turn-of-the-century postcards: the beginning of the residential Willows. Its basic outline remains unchanged–until the fire.

Juniper Point-001

Juniper Point 2-001

Demolition 3-001

Location, location, location. The sun was struggling to come out when I took these pictures the other day in the park just beside the cottage. You can see its views: of the Willows park with the ocean and Cape Ann beyond. Bakers Island, ostensibly part of Salem but quite a separate world altogether, is “glistening” in the fragile sun offshore.

Willows 008-001

Willows 015-001


6 responses to “A Willows Cottage

  • D.L. Cote

    Yes, we all wish for yesteryear, until the wind blows and we’re freezing our arses off! There are a couple of nice newly renovated cottages at #5 & #7 Sutton Ave. Then again, I am not a purist, I like the blend of old and new.
    I love your articles btw!

    • daseger

      Thanks, D.L., I used to be more of a purist than I am now actually….I think you want more comforts as you get older! They took down a beautiful stick cottage on Sutton Ave several years ago….amazing trim, long gone.

  • Michelle

    This saddens me. It’s a fantastic example of Victorian seaside architecture. There are few as representative as this one left in the Willows.

  • downeastdilettante

    Pity. The current trend in homebuilding—“I’ll take one of these, one of those, and half a dozen of these, and can you add some more trim and some ‘palladium’ windows, and can we make it a little (lot) taller?” just doesn’t bode well. The control and ‘rightness’ of these cottages depends on eye and restraint.

    I like comforts as I get older, but that doesn’t preclude building something ‘right’. We are in one of the ugliest cycles of home design ever seen.

  • thesalemgarden

    That is sad. I just can’t imagine another building in that spot.

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