Christmas at the Willows

This weekend’s Christmas in Salem tour is focused on Salem Willows, for the first time (I think!) in this storied event’s 33-year history. The tour has developed its large following by opening up historic homes in the city’s central historic districts (McIntire, the Common, Derby Street), but every once in a while it branches out to showcase an outlying neighborhood: North Salem a few years ago and now the Willows. Eight homes are on the tour, all decorated for the season. By the time you are reading this, it’s too late to purchase tickets online, but they will be available at the Bentley School (25 Memorial Drive, Salem) on Saturday and Sunday. Christmas in Salem is the major fundraiser for Salem’s preservation organization, Historic Salem, Incorporated, and as such, it enables HSI to continue its preservation advocacy and outreach.

In terms of preservation, the Willows (or more formally the Juniper Point residential neighborhood, which is adjacent to the historic Willows municipal park) has been a bit vulnerable in recent years, given its desirable coastal location, its lack of historic district restrictions, and the transformation of its summer cottages to year-round residences. There have been some rather aggressive additions and an unfortunate teardown a few years back.  But the majority of the neighborhood’s close-knit Victorian and early twentieth-century dwellings appear perfectly preserved, and they provide a nice backdrop for a seaside Christmas stroll.

Willows Salem State

Willows 012

Willows SSU

A Craftsman cottage (not sure if this is on the tour–it’s just one of my favorite houses) in Salem Willows, framed by two early 20th century doctored postcards from the archives of Salem State University.

6 responses to “Christmas at the Willows

  • MarkD60

    I guess they’re kinda cute, but unrealistic. Bikini girls on a snowy beach? That could never happen.

  • michellenmoon

    I’m excited to be volunteering with Christmas in Salem this year, and it’s precisely because they chose the Willows, with its fantastic history of Victorian ideas about recreation and the sea, and its lovely remaining architecture. Was doing some reading and found mention of it in the 1877 book Old Naumkeag: An Historical Sketch of the City of Salem by Webber and Nevins, on Google Books: “In 1855, a few Boston clerks began to camp during their vacations at Juniper point; finally some of the Lowell people, driven from Marblehead Neck by disagreement with the proprietors there, sought out Juniper and erected a cottage or two. They were followed by others, until the point began to develop itself into a watering-place for residents. In 1873 D.B. Gardner, Jr., bought the “Allen Farm,” of te Dustin heirs of Peabody, and laid it out into streets, and fine houselots,which are for sale. There are now some fifty or more fine cottages here, and the number increases yearly.” It goes on to describe some of the amenities already in place at the Willows – bandstand, steamboat wharf, etc.

    Looking forward to the tour!

  • Nelson Dionne

    We are lucky to have many images of Juniper Point taken by several Salem photographers. They have survived in the form of stereoviews. I have several in my book “Salem in Stereo, Victorian Salem in 3-D”. The book comes with a pair of special glasses to see early images of Salem as our ancestors did. Available from Amazon at $50 or from the publisher “Hardy House” or myself. at $30.

  • Margy Rydzynski

    I love Salem Willows park. Thanks for the memories!

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