A Lost Lafayette Mansion

A few years ago I published the first of what could be many posts on the prolific Salem publisher Samuel E. Cassino, whose diverse publications encompassed several popular periodicals and more technical reference works (including 30 editions of the Naturalists’ Directory published between 1877 and 1936). In that post I included a cropped postcard of what I thought was his grand residence on lower Lafayette Street, but it turns out I was incorrect, as his great-grandaughter has sent along a family picture of this very impressive house, which was completely destroyed in the Great Salem Fire of 1914. I think the real Cassino house is the house next door to the Greek Revival structure I featured in my earlier post: both were located in the vicinity of 190-194 Lafayette Street and both were completely destroyed by the Fire. I am so grateful to have received this photograph as we don’t have many of the pre-Fire streetscape of Lafayette, which was turned into a pile of ash (and a “forest” of chimneys) on June 25, 1914. Literary references to the Cassino house always use the words “stately” and/or elegant, and as you can see, these were understatements!

Cassino house burned 1914 Salem Fire

Cassino Home in Salem-before and after

Cassino Estimate

Cassino 006

Photographs of 194 Lafayette Street before and after the Great Salem Fire of June 25, 1914, Blackburn Archive; Valuations of loss from the F.W. Dodge Company’s Report “Data on Burned District at Salem, Mass.”, Digital Commons, Salem State University; 194 (blue house) and 192 (white house) Lafayette Street today.

It was a beautiful house to be sure, but let’s not dwell too much on material loss. Mr. Cassino was a survivor: he was born in 1861 and was still living in Salem (on Savoy Road–much further down Lafayette Street) according to the 1940 Federal Census. His great-grandaughter recalls that he was greatly loved, especially by his grandchildren with whom he spent much time.


7 responses to “A Lost Lafayette Mansion

  • Pam McKee

    Wow, gorgeous….I do wish we had more photos of the homes and buildings that were destroyed…thanks for this one.

  • Nelson Dionne

    His “Little Folks ” magazine turns up now & then. Unfortunately, it has no Salem content Like many Salem businessmen of his time, we know all too little of the man..

    • daseger

      I don’t know, Nelson–I think we know quite a bit. Little Folks was just one of the varied publications that his company published: he obviously was much more interested in scientific content.

  • ellie Goldman

    My parents Dr Israel and Sarah Kaplan lived at 192 and at 194 around 1945-1994 it brings back memories. My mother collected antique Asian art and McIntire furniture
    Ellie Kaplan Goldman

  • Elizabeth A Ray-Horne

    Samuel Cassino is one of my great, great grandfathers at least according to oral family history which sadly died with my dad and his sister the same year. I have some sterling silver items stamped Cassino and also my grandmother’s baby book which was printed by his publishing/printing company. This is the first reference I have found.

    • daseger

      Well, there’s more to discover if you like–he was quite an important publisher. Children’s books and magazines, and scientific publications too.

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