While taking a twilight stroll around Salem the other day/night, it seemed to me as if the street-fronting fences were straining to contain the abundant shrubs, flowers and vines within. September is such an abundant time–even in the city. Salem has some great fences, although it once had many more: when I look through pictures from a century ago I am always struck first by the elaborate fences that lined its streets. Most of the wrought iron ones have survived, many of the wooden ones have not. I think commercialization is the main enemy of the elaborate wooden fence–and a great case in point is the “Dr. Phippen House” on the Common (misidentified by the Historic American Building Survey at the Library of Congress as located on Chestnut Street): pictured below in 1938 and the other day. It is now a funeral home with no fence in front, and a chain-link fence along its side yard.
Most definitely a loss, as this house occupies a prominent position on the Common. But there are similar fences throughout Salem that survive, primarily, but not exclusively, in the McIntire Historic District. Iron fences are sturdier survivals, and can be found all over downtown Salem, in varying states of repair. For those who read my post last year about the sad state of the Salem Common fence, I have great news: it is being repaired and restored. We all benefit when a city, or any property owner, puts their best fence forward.
More examples of front fences from my (increasingly-dark) walk around town, ending up at the Ropes Mansion garden, which is really stunning at this time of year–definitely worth a trip from near or far.