I was searching for springtime in Salem on canvas yesterday, as the real season has failed to arrive (not unusual for New England). Clicking around artnet, avoiding all the other things that I have to do during this busy time in the academic year, I found a new-to-me “Salem” artist: Sidney Raynes (1907-1968). I’m using the quotation marks because it is quite apparent that Raynes did not live in Salem, but she painted several very interesting Salem scenes in the 1930s or 1940s. A Massachusetts native who was trained at the Art Students’ League in New York, Raynes was part of the Rockport artists community on Cape Ann and a lifelong member of the Rockport and North Shore Art Associations. I looked for as many paintings of hers as I could find on the web, and from this small sample of her work it looks to me like she was more inspired by the streets and buildings of Gloucester and Rockport than the shore: this might explain the appeal of Salem. Both of the paintings below, Salem in Springtime and Salem Street Corner, are appealing to me, but I’ve become quite fixated on the latter simply because I don‘t know where it is.
Sidney Raynes, Salem in Springtime and Salem Street Corner, oil on board and oil on masonite.
This house might be long gone–it looks like it is on its way out here. But I took a walk to see if I could find it, armed with the two major clues the painting provides: the pediment-topped doorway and the corner quoins (as well its corner location). Lots of houses in Salem have doorways like this, and many have quoins, but very few houses have BOTH and are located on a corner.The boarded-up first story with additional entries indicates that this house served some sort of commercial purpose in its past, eliminating houses in residential areas, although shops and residences were more closely connected in the past than they are now. I narrowed it down to two houses: the Captain John Hodges House (1788) and the Timothy Orne House (1761), both on Essex Street. I’ve featured both of these important houses several times on the blog and I know their general histories: I’m pretty sure the Hodges house never had a storefront. So that leaves us with the Orne house, which has gone through quite a few transformations in its long history. It has the corner quoins (hidden under siding in the 1970s Bowman’s Bakery photograph below) but the last photograph by Frank Cousins (c. 1900) shows a doorway that is decidedly not pedimental.
Captain John Hodges House and Timothy Orne house today, mid- and early 20th century.
So I’m stuck. If Sidney Raynes’ relic house on the corner still exists, I’m not sure where it is. Awaiting suggestions!
May 1st, 2014 at 9:36 am
Reading through your article, the Timothy Orne house came to my mind, and wasnt surprised to see it did yours as well.
May 1st, 2014 at 9:37 am
I meant to mention, at one point in time the Orne was in really rough shape.
May 1st, 2014 at 9:42 am
The entrance is not right! Any other ideas? You must know every house in town inside out……….
May 1st, 2014 at 11:05 am
I thought Bowmans too. Maybe artistic license?
May 1st, 2014 at 1:14 pm
You do have to take that into account…
May 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm
could be the since demolished Benjamin Pickman house, 165 Essex. Corner blocks, commercial first floor, and in pretty bad shape by the 30’s and 40’s. Had an alley on the right side, which may have been St. Peter st. I have a picture somewhere.
May 1st, 2014 at 1:15 pm
There are several on the blog, and here’s a print: http://streetsofsalem.com/2012/11/08/pendleton-prints/.
Could be–I didn’t know it was on a corner.
May 1st, 2014 at 5:14 pm
I’d say the Pickman house, if any of these; but none has the right second-story fenestration.
May 2nd, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Another possibility is the building to the right of the Old Essex House. Looks like the correct fenestration in an image I have, but not sure about the corner and corner boards. Sadly, so much has been demolished, it could be anywhere. Assuming the print is an accurate representation to start with.