I promise: this is my last post on the Great Salem Fire! The big anniversary is now past, and the big event thoroughly commemorated. I thought I’d finish up with some before and after and now and then photographs, as contrasts often tell the story better than anything else. I was going to take you through the whole rebuilding process, but enough is enough: I can summarize the characteristics and goals of the rebuilding effort quite succinctly: it was relatively rapid, and emphasized structures built of fire-retardant materials in rather traditional styles. The post-fire Salem was made largely of brick, with slate roofs wherever possible, and lots of Colonial Revival details to tie the new in with the old. Here are two images that just SCREAM post-fire to me: a Federal house on High Street with a stucco side, and a “Forget 1914” advertising postcard: the Ropes Drug Company was already marketing the Great Fire even before its ashes cooled! But that was also the can-do attitude of 1914: let’s rebuild, and be quick about it.
Below are past and present contrasting views of the place where the fire began (Boston and Procter Streets–now a Walgreen’s parking lot just below a wooded, forlorn lot where it is believed that the victims of the Witch Trials of 1692 were buried in unmarked graves–this has been pointed out 64,000 times), where it ended (New Derby and Herbert Streets, where the notably-named Bunghole liquor store now stands), and a few other street scenes from 1914 and 2014. A few more contrasting shots, and some small but very specific physical legacies of the Fire, and then I’m done.
The 1914 picture is taken from a bit further back and to the right; one of the few buildings in the midst of the conflagration which still stands is in the middle of both pictures.
The end point of the fire–again, not a perfectly-matched perspective, but close.
Broad and Hathorne in 1914 & 2014.
39 Chestnut Street in 1914 and 2014: the fire did not touch the street, but blazed all around it.
An officer guarding a leveled Roslyn Street in 1914, and the rebuilt street in 2014.
Two very physical remnants of 1914 in 2014.