Tag Archives: Samuel McIntire

The Redcoat Next Door

There is always something interesting going on in Salem. Yesterday my over-the-fence neighbor, a museum interpreter turned screenwriter turned romance novelist, was shooting some six-second Vine videos next door at Hamilton Hall to publicize her forthcoming book, The Rebel Pirate (2nd in the Renegades of the Revolution series).  She graciously allowed me to pop over and see the action. As one of the central characters in the novel is a British naval commander, the redcoats are in the picture and it was fun to see one running around the Hall–especially in sneakers (the floor was a little slippery for swordplay). The conceit of the scenes was a romance reader sitting amidst the characters of the novel come to life, and so they were played out, again and again–including a last bit where the characters creep in and turn the pages for her! (Really cute but hard to photograph from afar–look at the Vine). Observing how much effort goes into a six-second film certainly gives one an appreciation for how long it must take to produce a full-length feature! Despite some ongoing window restoration (inside and out), the Hall looked great and provided the perfect romantic setting.

Redcoat First

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P.S. This was not the only Salem “set” I visited this past year: now that it is beginning to get accolades, I do want to remind everyone that several scenes of American Hustle were filmed in Salem last spring—see my post Filming on Federal.


Mansion of the Moment

The Derby Family were Salem’s golden-age “royalty”, bequeathing their name to a major street, a long wharf, and many, many houses–some which have survived, and others long lost. Of all the Derby houses, the most legendary is the most fleeting: the Derby Mansion designed successively (and somewhat collaboratively, I think) by the new nation’s most prominent architects Charles Bulfinch and Samuel McIntire for “King” Elias Hasket Derby and his wife Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby. Elias and Elizabeth both died within a year of its completion in 1799, and given its prime location between Salem’s main street and the waterfront, it was torn down less than two decades later, to be replaced by the new (now old) Town Hall in the midst of what came to be known (and still is) as Derby Square. The Derby Mansion lives on in legend (and in the form of the furnishings that were made for it) but survives only on paper: narrative descriptions, book illustrations, and most importantly, architectural drawings.

The most influential image of the idealized house in the nineteenth century seems to have been based on a 1795 Bulfinch perspective drawing produced for the Derbys before they handed the commission over to McIntire. This is preserved in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, and it was reproduced in two popular histories of Salem’s commercial heyday as well as Fiske Kimball’s Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic (1922).

Lost Derby Mansion Bulfinch

Lost Derby Mansion Old Naumkeag

Lost Mansion Old Shipmasters of Salem

Charles Bulfinch’s perspective drawing of the Derby Mansion, 1795, via Hugh Howard’s Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture  (2006) and the Peabody Essex Museum; illustrations from C.H. Webber and W.S. Nevins, Old Naumkeag. A Historical Sketch of the City of Salem, etc.. (1877) and Charles E. Trow, Old Shipmasters of Salem (1905).

But the Bulfinch drawing does not represent the completed McIntire structure: for that we have to turn to archival evidence. Fortunately, the Essex Institute (now incorporated into the international art and culture museum that is the Peabody Essex Museum, but previously the zealous historical society for Essex County in general and Salem in particular) acquired a portfolio of Samuel McIntire’s plans and papers in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, including drawings of the Derby Mansion. Even more fortunately, the PEM is digitizing some of the McIntire materials:  what a pleasure and a privilege to see these annotated elevations of the mansion and its outbuildings–I especially love the drawings for a wrought iron fence, even though I have no idea if it ended up encircling this momentary mansion.

Lost Derby Mansion

Lost Mansion Derby Outbuildings

Lost Mansion Derby Greenhouse

Lost Mansion Derby Ironwork

PEM Phillips Library MSS 264: Samuel McIntire Papers 1749-1822; below, Derby Square today.

Lost Derby Square sketch


Pendle and Salem

While weeding in front of my house yesterday I encountered a group of tourists who had come to Salem for the “witches” but were surprised to find so many nice buildings too. Poor people! Once we started chatting I couldn’t stop myself from subjecting them to a lecture, well, several really: first I told them all about Samuel McIntire and the merchants and sea captains who built Chestnut Street and then we got into the witch trials. They did ask questions, but clearly it’s a good thing that the semester is about to start.

One thing became clear in our “discussion”: they thought Salem was the only place in the world that prosecuted accused witches, at least after the “Dark Ages”. Even after fifteen years of teaching a popular course on the thousands of witch trials that occurred in early modern Europe, I was surprised. The singularity of Salem always bothers me; “our” trials are so seldom placed in western or global context, at least outside of academia.

There are important parallels between the Salem trials and the largest and most notorious English witchcraft prosecution, the Lancashire (“Pendle”) trials in northern England in 1612. The Pendle trials were held 401 years ago this week, and their 400th anniversary was commemorated last year. Salem and Pendle were both (relatively speaking) “frontier” communities, with the Pendle district of Lancashire located in the “dark corners of the north” of England, where various types of nonconformity still reigned. Salem cast a much wider net (185 accusations, 59 trials, 31 convictions, 19 executions, one death by torture/interrogation) than Pendle (16 trials and 10 executions, with one death in prison), but both were notoriously collective, conspiratorial episodes–unusual in the history of English prosecutions for witchcraft. Both trials were well-publicized, with the Pendle “source”, (more of a personal reflection really), clerk of the Lancashire court Thomas Potter’s Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster (1613) being particularly influential.

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Thomas Potts, The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster. London, 1613. STC 20138.

But the most important comparison/connection between Pendle and Salem was the admission of legal testimony by a minor in the former trials, which set the precedent for the latter. Before the Pendle trials, the testimony of children under the age of fourteen was inadmissible in English courts, but nine-year-old Jennet Device was the star witness of the 1612 trials, offering up testimony that implicated her entire family as well as others. Jennet’s family would have been vulnerable anyway–they were a marginalized family led by a “cunning” matriarch, and probably represented the lethal mixture of nuisance and nonconformity to the community–but her vivid testimony was key to their conviction. Jennet was the informer at what became a sensationalistic show trial. Like Salem, the Lancashire trials seem to have become a somewhat self-generating process, engulfing the accusations of the “Pendle Hill” witches as well as so-called “Samlesbury Witches” who were also implicated by the testimony of an adolescent girl. The Salem girls most definitely had their forerunners, and perhaps their inspiration.

Then, of course, there is the cultural aftermath, theatrical and fictional accounts based on Pendle and Salem, tourism, commemorations. Several decades after Pendle, Thomas Heywood brought his comedy to the London stage, while several centuries after Salem, The Crucible transformed the American trials into an ongoing allegory. Salem has, of course, transformed itself into “Witch City”, and in the Pendle district there is a Witch Way bus service with individual buses named after the officials and victims of the Lancashire trials. There are statues in both places, although Pendle’s is of a real victim, Alice Nutter of the village of Roughlee, and ours is of Samantha Stevens, a fictional television character! (Of course we have the beautiful and meaningful 1992 Witch Trials Memorial, but I am afraid that more tourists see Samantha). There are also logos galore, on both sides of the Atlantic, official and otherwise, with just a sampling below.

Witchcraft Plays

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Witchcraft Statues

PicMonkey Collage


Two Churches and a Park

Apologies for posting multiple pictures of the park across from my house in the space of a few weeks, but the flowering trees have been particularly beautiful this year. Since this space is constantly within my view, I am always trying to picture what it looked like in the past, when not just one but two churches successively occupied the space. Even though I’m a great admirer of the built landscape (when it is well-built), I think I prefer the empty space, especially in the midst of densely-settled Salem. Although if Samuel McIntire’s majestic first South Congregational Church was still standing, I might change my mind—but its 166-foot-high steeple would certainly dwarf my house! That’s the main effect that I’m constantly trying to conjure up–I may ask my husband to make a rendering one day.

The park today and the two churches: Samuel McIntire’s Church was built in 1804-5 and destroyed by fire in 1903, and quickly replaced by the Gothic Revival structure that you see below, which itself burned down in 1950. Quite the contrast! The word on the street is that there were hopes of erecting a third church on the site (this time by a Greek Orthodox congregation), but one prominent resident foiled those plans by purchasing it himself and donating it to the neighborhood association. All the householders on Chestnut Street now pay dues to maintain the park, which is open to everyone.

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McIntire Park South Church 1891

McIntire Park South Congregational Church 1910

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I think I’ve shown these images of the churches as well (The amazing Frank Cousins photograph is from 1891; the postcard of the “new” church is from 1910) before as well (I’m nearly reblogging here!), but I do have some interior shots of both churches which I just found, and a salvaged capital from McIntire’s church:  can you imagine the struggle to salvage precious pieces of wood while the fire raged? It might have been someone from my house that ran over there and grabbed this! That’s a moment (not so pleasant) that I try to imagine: what it must have been like to wake up in the middle of the night and see this blazing inferno just outside my bedroom window; no doubt there was real fear that the fire would spread and the famous spire would collapse onto the house–my house. What a scary, horrible night that must have been. 110 years later, all is calm over there this morning.

McIntire Park interior of South Church Peabody & Tilton

McIntire Park Urn

McIntire Park South Congregational Church interior 1920s

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All historic photographs from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, with the exception of the last one, which is from the Estey Organ Company in Vermont, which maintains a virtual museum and an archive of all of its organs.


Rumford Roasters

We live right next door to Hamilton Hall, an elegant Federal-era assembly hall attributed to Salem’s famous architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire. I wake up every morning and look out my bedroom window at McIntire’s carved eagle and swags on the exterior, and I’ve posted about most of its interior spaces here as well.  The Hall’s grand ballroom, with its spring dance floor, Palladian windows, gilt mirrors, and musician’s balcony, always gets a lot of attention, but today I want to feature a more utilitarian room below the stairs:  the “brick hearth room” with its Rumford Roaster, the cutting-edge culinary technology of the early nineteenth century. Here it is, built into the large hearth that dominates the room, in my photographs and a doctored drawing from the very charming 1947 Hamilton Hall Cook Book (containing recipes for “Afternoon Tea Dainties”, “Shrimp Wiggle”, and many puddings).

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Rumford Roaster Drawing

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The Rumford Roaster transferred cooking from the open fire to an enclosed oven (the round opening, lined with metal inside), which was heated by the small square firebox directly below. There are openings in the sides of the oven to control the temperature, and the entire device was vented through the central chimney. The Rumford Roaster at Hamilton Hall is characteristic of the earliest examples in that it was built into the hearth (also see the roasters at the Gardner-Pingree House here in Salem and the Rundlet-May House in Portsmouth, below) but freestanding models developed a bit later. Its evolution seems to run parallel to the evolution of the American kitchen.

Rumford Roaster Gardner Pingree Salem

Rumford Roaster NE Home 2009 Geoffrey Gross photo Rundlett-May House

Rumford Roasters in the kitchens of the Gardner-Pingree House, Salem (Peabody Essex Museum) and the Rundlet-May House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Historic New England).

The Roaster was invented and named after Count Rumford (1753-1814), an absolutely extraordinary man whose biography reads like a (really bad) dime novel. Born plain old Benjamin Thompson in what was then the small village of Woburn, twelve miles northwest of Boston, he transformed himself into quite the continental Count through a combination of scientific genius and what can euphemistically be called “adventuring”. His biographical details can be found elsewhere (this account was good yet succinct; I think his life, work and times demand a larger volume), so I’m going to summarize as much as I can:  Thompson was apprenticed to merchants in both Salem and Boston in his adolescence, and then he obtained a position as a schoolmaster in Rumford (now Concord), New Hampshire. There he met and married a wealthy and well-connected widow about ten years his senior. Through her, he made all sorts of useful connections and became a commissioned officer in the New Hampshire militia by the mid-1770s, but it turns out that he was at best a Loyalist and at worst a spy: he fled to London in 1776, abandoning his wife and child, after accusations of  “being unfriendly to the cause of liberty”.

From a British perspective, Thompson distinguished himself in both public service and scientific experimentation during the American Revolution, serving in the British Colonial Office while simultaneously conducting experiments in ballistics and munitions: these lessons in military combustion would later be applied to more domestic mechanisms. He was knighted by King George III in 1784, but somehow was at the same time under suspicion of spying for the French !!! and so made his way to the Continent and wound up in the service of one of the most powerful German princes, Karl Theodor, Prince-Elector, Count Palatine and Duke of Bavaria. He remained in Bavaria for over a decade, working on such diverse projects as poorhouse reform and urban planning (including the creation of the Englischer Garten in Munich) while continuing to conduct experiments on the nature and applications of heat. In 1791, Sir Benjamin Thompson was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, and he chose the title “Rumford”, in reference to his New England origins. This, and the fact that he left a good part of his fortune to Harvard University to establish a Rumford professorship, indicates that there were some misgivings about betraying his native country. During the last phase of the Count’s life, there is something of a “man without a country” air about him; despite his honors there were whispers of spying (AGAIN–this time for Britain), which forced him to leave Bavaria. His last decade was spent traveling back and forth between England and France, where he died in 1814, “the spy who conquered the cold”.

Rumford Portrait 1801

Gillray Scientific Researches BM

Count Rumford was certainly a household name by 1800, inspiring both portraits and caricatures. Above, a mezzotint portrait by John Raphael Smith (1801) and a caricature which is poking fun at Rumford’s fashionable Royal Society lectures:  he is the man who is “producing” steam in James Gillray’s 1802 print, Scientific Researches! New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! Or, an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air, both British Museum.  And look at these companion satires below!

Gillray Comforts 1800

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James Gillray, The Comforts of a Rumford Stove, 1800; Charles Williams, Luxury, or the Comforts of a RUMPFORD, 1801, British Museum.

Well, back to the rather less racy Rumford stove at Hamilton Hall!  A couple of more shots are below, including open views of the oven (with the arm of a helpful Hall trustee) and the ash box below. There are great records of the administration and maintenance of the Hall in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, so we know that this Roaster was supplied by Elijah Fuller of Neptune Street in Salem; I searched through the Salem Register for references to Fuller’s shop and found the notice below, from July 1803. Rumford was clearly a recognizable name–and product–over on this side of the Atlantic as well.

Rumford Roaster at Hamilton Hall Salem

Rumford Roaster Hamilton Hall interior

Rumford Roaster Ash Box

Rumford Cooking Utensils 1803

Hamilton Hall has been the setting for countless “assemblies” over its two hundred + years, including large dinners for such dignitaries as the Marquis de Lafayette, Nathaniel Bowditch, and Martin Van Buren in the first phase of its history; I imagine that the catering of these events was greatly facilitated by the presence of Count Rumford’s Roaster.

In the Spotlight:  a photograph of Hamilton Hall taken last week, during the dawn-to-dusk production of a music video.

Hamilton Hall


Carriage Houses

I was getting a bit depressed with all the devastation and demolition of the last few posts, so I went searching for structures that have survived:  not too difficult a task in my neighborhood. The weather is odd here (for January):  quite warm, foggy, air filled with moisture but no rain or snow. Rather dreary, really, as you can tell from the photographs. On dark days like these in the midwinter the built landscape really stands out, with no natural landscape to frame or cloak it. For some reason, on my walk yesterday I was particularly noticing the outbuildings rather than the facades:  Salem has many great carriage houses, most in pretty good condition.  This is impressive to me:  it’s hard enough to preserve a big old house, but keeping an ancient ancillary building in good shape is a true commitment. We lost our carriage house long ago:  it is evident on the late nineteenth-century street atlases of Salem, but after the turn of the century, it’s gone.

I don’t have anything similar for Salem, so I want to start with an image of  the Valentine-Fuller house in Cambridge, Massachusetts:  Mr. and Mrs. Fuller are on horseback in their carriage-house courtyard, circa 1890:  this seems like the peak time for carriage houses to me.  After that, they would either come down or be preserved as storage structures or garages. This house, which was built in 1848 on Prospect Street, was demolished in 1937, along with its outbuildings (oh no, more demolition).

HABS, Library of Congress

Back in Salem, carriage houses can be found in several neighborhoods, so this is just a sampler, or part one.  On the street where I live, Chestnut Street, there are some amazing carriage houses, several of which are laid out a considerable distance from their main houses so you really don’t get the courtyard effect that you see above. On one side of the street, a completely new parallel street, Warren Street, was laid out as an access route to these buildings. The photographs below are all of Warren Street carriage houses that belong to mansions on Chestnut, but two of them appear quite capable of fulfilling an independent existence.

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Essex Street, which was the colonial (and remains the present) main street of Salem, runs parallel to Chestnut on the other side: because of its early settlement, it features many beautiful carriage houses–primarily wooden rather than brick. In the general vicinity of the Salem Public Library, stalwart structures peak out from behind the streetscape, particularly visible at this time of year.  Behind this trio of houses–Georgian, Colonial Revival built on the site of a pulled-down Federal at the turn of the century, and Federal–are some of my favorite carriage houses on the street and in Salem.

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And then just across the street from the library, there’s this wonderfully restored Greek Revival, with its NEW carriage house aligned perfectly with what I assume are later nineteenth-century additions, creating a nice sense of enclosure for its yard.  Just a little down the street, is a (nearly) matched pair of Federal houses dating from about 1800, both of which have great carriage houses.  As you can see, carriage-house cupolas abound on Essex Street!

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Essex Street LOC

Essex Street, circa 1910. Detroit Publishing Company/ Library of Congress

On my way across town to the Common, I stopped to take a photograph of a very controversial Federal Street carriage house.  It appears to belong to the very stately Victorian that was converted into condominiums a few decades ago, but actually is part of an adjacent property whose owner tried to do the very same thing with his carriage house at the same time (this was all before I came to Salem, so I’m not that clear on the details).  When he did not get approval, he moved out of his Federal Court house and let it and the carriage house rot. So this is the result, 20+ years later.

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As this is the birthday week of Salem’s famed architect Samuel McIntire, I’ve got to feature some McIntire carriage houses which, again, is not difficult to do. Everybody’s favorite McIntire house, the Gardner-Pingree house, has a charming carriage house in back which has a slightly smaller stature, in keeping with the general scale of the house.  There’s a restoration project going on there now, so I’m sorry that the pictures give a work-site impression, but you can still see how great this outbuilding is.

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Just next door, another house owned by the Peabody Essex Museum features one of the most prominent carriage houses in town:  the Andrew Safford House was built after McIntire’s in 1811, but you can see his influence in both the main house and the carriage house, both of which overlook Salem Common. When it was built in 1819, this was one of the most expensive houses in America, and it remains very impressive, nearly two centuries later.

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Safford House

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Safford Stable 1939

The Andrew Safford House and Carriage House, yesterday and in 1910 & 1939 photographs, Library of Congress.

Finally, my very favorite Salem carriage house.  The Clifford Crowninshield House (1806) is a McIntire house located on another corner of the Salem Common, just across from the Safford house. Behind the main house, almost hidden really, is a wooden carriage house with an elegant stature and very intricate details:  every time I pass by it makes me smile.

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Vanished Vantage Points

There’s no better way to see how a landscape, or a streetscape, changes over time than to compare images of the past and the present. I am always on the hunt for nineteenth-century photographs and drawings of Salem, before urban renewal, before the great fire of 1914, before the CAR, so I can see how these forces altered the city, for better or for worse (mostly for worse).

I’m going to ease into what is often a shocking contrast of past and present with two photographs of a section of Federal Street, taken about a century apart.  This is the street looking east from the vantage point of the Peirce-Nichols House, one of Samuel McIntire’s most important commissions, looking toward North Street and the courthouses on the other side. The new (hugely out-of-scale) courthouse (or “judicial center”), which opened up for business just last year, is mostly out of the frame of the modern picture, or the contrast would indeed be shocking. What you do see, or what I see, is the brick former Baptist church, now law library, which was moved to its present location and situated on an angle so to accommodate the curve in the road and effect a transition from residential to institutional buildings on the street. This was an absolutely brilliant idea, whoever thought of it (I know that Historic Salem, Inc. advocated for it) as the courthouse project mandated the demolition of the smaller wooden buildings you see in that location in the earlier picture:  without the in-scale angled brick building, the judicial center would have even less connection to the street.

Vantage Point Fed Street 1910

Vanished Federal Street present

Now for a comparative vantage point that is a little more jarring:  Church Street in the 1890s and today. This was an old residential street in Salem, which was also the site of the original Salem Lyceum building, which you see here (the image is from Winfield S. Nevins’ Witchcraft in Salem Village, 1892 & 1916) as well as St. Peter’s Church, the source of its name.  In between the church, the Lyceum, and the great old firehouse (fortunately still there) were rows of primarily eighteenth-century houses, now all gone. The old wooden Lyceum was built about 1831 and burned down at the turn of the century, but it was replaced by a very elegant brick structure that was long the site of the Lyceum Restaurant, now 43 Church. Despite the unfortunate designs of both the District court on the right and the office building past the Lyceum on the left, the upper (foreground) part of Church Street is aesthetically pleasing and commercially successful (the site of an organic grocery store, a wine shop, and a coffee shop in addition to 43 Church), primarily because its buildings line up with the sidewalk, just like those in the older photograph. But in the background of the modern photographs, you see the ravages of urban renewal:  a large parking lot on the right, and a faux-Federal condominium building and brutally ugly parking garage/mall on the right.

Vanished Church Street Nevins Witchcraft

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From the vantage point of St. Peter’s Church, looking west towards the Lyceum: all those house removed to accommodate cars.

Vantage Church Street

My last group of images shows a completely obliterated street:  Norman Street, a short street that has been transformed beyond all recognition in the twentieth century. Not a shred of its built historical fabric remains, including this wonderful house, the Benjamin Cox house at 21 Norman Street (with the man standing in front of it). It is gone, along with its garden, and all of its neighbors, replaced by office buildings and a wide, wide road so that commuters might easily speed through Salem on their way to the university, or Marblehead. The historic photographs below, which date from about 1875-85, are from the Brown Family Collection of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, and the modern photograph was taken this morning.  It’s difficult to reconcile these two settings:  I think that the Cox House was located somewhere in the vicinity of the white car (the one driving, as opposed to the one parked) in the 2013 photograph.

Vanished Cox House 21 Norman

Vanished Cox House garden

Vanished Cox House Interior

Vanished Norman Street


Salem Houses for Sale

I’m a persistent, one might say compulsive, realestalker:  my admiration for my own house doesn’t stop me from checking out others, often. I think that this compulsion is shared by many of my neighbors: nothing stirs up a Salem gathering better than real estate chat. With the down market over the past few years, these discussions have not been as much fun, but I think (hope) that the market is picking up now. I thought I would start featuring a sampling of Salem houses for sale from time to time on the blog, because it’s a nice way to focus on great houses that may or may not have some historical connection or architectural feature that would land them here anyway.  Salem is full of great old houses, many of which are overlooked and very worthy of notice, and lots of newer houses too, though I am not interested in those. Sorry–if you haven’t figured it out before now, I am a complete old-house snob, for aesthetic, architectural, environmental and experiential reasons. The houses below are all in the McIntire Historic District with one exception:  I’ll focus on other neighborhoods in future posts. I’m linking the listings below to Coldwell Bankers site, just because I find it particularly easy to navigate.

Two ivy-covered brick mansions:  26 Chestnut Street and 14 Pickman Street

The Devereux Hoffman Simpson House at 26 Chestnut was the last of the grand Federal mansions to be built on the street, in 1826.  The house has 15 rooms, 7 bathrooms, and a restored carriage house with an apartment on the second floor. It was featured in the New York Times real estate section several weeks ago, and the first photograph below is from there.

I featured the completely-ivy-covered exterior of the Cook-Kimball house on the blog about a year ago and got 4000 clicks in 10 minutes:  it is a striking sight.  The interior looks more stark–and well-preserved, but I’m only going by the listing, which also attributes the house to Samuel McIntire (while all the sources I consulted–Fiske Kimball, Bryant Tolles, Jr.–attribute it to his son, Samuel Field McIntire).  Located on a quiet side street off Salem Common, the property includes six bedroom, an adjacent lot with carriage house, and, as you can see, an amazing staircase.

Beckford Street Colonials: 22 Beckford Street and 20 Beckford Street

Adjacent to each other on Beckford Street, a side street that runs between Federal and Essex in the McIntire Historic District, are these two houses built before the Revolutionary War.  22 Beckford is a really interesting house with lots of period details and a great enclosed yard:  it was actually moved to this location at some point in the nineteenth century.  It has seven fireplaces, parking, and a really cute garden shed out back.  20 Beckford Street, right next door, is actually a multi-family house with two units–there are 12 rooms in all.  The situation of this house, with its front facade at right angle to the street and enclosed yard, affords it quite a bit of privacy.

A Colonial Revival on Federal Street:  87 Federal Street.

Just down the street from the Beckford street colonials, and almost across from McIntire’s Peirce-Nichols house, is the Albert Goodhue House at 87 Federal Street. The house was built in 1893, and has that combination of architectural detail and enhanced scale characteristic of Colonial Revival houses. It is also a multi-family house, with 3 units, parking, and a private yard.

Addendum:  From the Old House BlogFive Reasons to Invest in an Older House.


Ladies of Salem

Looking down upon the streets of Salem this summer are 12 “Ladies of Salem”, nautical figureheads created by local artists to commemorate Salem’s maritime past and highlight its present role as a “port of culture”.  The Lady of Salem festival, spearheaded by the city’s Beautification Committee, is the most recent of a succession of positive public arts initiatives designed to draw the attention of both residents and visitors away from the tacky exploitation of Salem’s witch-trial past, or at the very least to put the events of 1692 (and their “interpretation”) in context.  These ladies, affixed to lampposts on downtown streets adjacent to their sponsoring businesses, peer down at passers-by with their characteristic open gazes.  Here’s a sampling:  as the organizers of the festival are encouraging the public to vote for their favorites, I’m starting with mine, and then proceeding in no particular order.

Figurehead by Jeanne Pare, sponsored by Treasures over Time, Washington Street.

Figureheads by Mary Ellen Halliwell for the Salem Beautification Committee, Amberlynn Narvie for Beverly Cooperative Bank, and John Devine for the Palmer’s Cove Yacht Club on Essex Street.

Two more Essex Street ladies:  figureheads by Jade Mason for Body & Soul Massage/Collins Cove Appraisors and Sheila Billings for Cabot Money Management, Inc.

Figureheads were a prominent feature of ships built from the seventeenth century to the age of steam and were often, but not exclusively, female. The general consensus seems to hold that for very superstitious seamen, real women on board were bad luck, so this was the only way to have a feminine presence on seagoing vessels, which were, of course, also characterized as feminine.  At the same time, figureheads represented the “spirit” of their ships and offered protection on long, arduous voyages. The Peabody Essex Museum has a lovely collection of figureheads, many of which are very majestically displayed in East India Marine Hall, but the largest collection of figureheads from merchant ships can be found at the newly-restored Cutty Sark in Britain, part of Royal Museums Greenwich. I love this picture of them all together.

Figureheads in the East India Marine Hall of the Peabody Essex Museum, and one attributed to Samuel McIntire in the PEM’s collection; the Cutty Sark figureheads, collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

She’s not from Salem, but as most of us rarely have the vantage point of viewing a figurehead from above, I wanted to include this interesting photograph by Alan Villiers of the bow of the Herzogin Cecilie from 1928–the very last days of figureheads.


Samuel McIntire in Texas

I knew that the charming 1793 summer house designed by Salem’s renown architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire (1757-1811) had been moved (from its original location 4 miles away on Salem merchant king Elias Hasket Derby’s Peabody farm–successively the property of the Crowninshield and Osborn families), and copied (by Derby’s distant descendant Martha Codman for her Newport mansion Berkeley Villa, which you can read about here), but I had no idea until very recently that it was the inspiration for a Houston McMansion.

Here is a panorama of pictures taken yesterday of McIntire’s beautiful summer house, situated since 1901 on the Glen Magna estate in Danvers, Massachusetts.

And here, via my very favorite pinner on Pinterest, via the Cote de Texas blog, via Luxe magazine, are pictures of a house outside downtown Houston designed by John Ike of Ike Ligerman Barkley Architects of New York.

It is probably wrong of me to call this house a McMansion as it is only two rooms deep, but it does have white marble flours (versus the painted wood of the original).  I’m not sure what to think of this creation:  is imitation the sincerest form of flattery in this case?

Another view:  a Rudolf Ruzicka Christmas card for the Merrymount Press, 1940.


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