Ernest M.A. Machado, Salem Architect

I tend to romanticize architects and the practice of architecture. When I first went to the house of my now-husband, who is an architect, I expected it to be Monticello-like, with a study in which a drafting table took center stage, surrounded by lovely hand-drawn renderings on whitewashed walls. My vision was not realized, and of course he is generally bent over a computer rather than a drafting table. It’s impossible to romanticize his work now that I know much more about it, so while I maintain a wifely interest in his business and projects, I also tend to drift away, back, towards architects who lived in ages past, who can easily engage and distract me. Just yesterday I walked over to take a picture of a Salem house which was built and occupied by a very prominent horticulturist and landscape architect, Harlan P. Kelsey, about whom I wanted to write a post (it is spring after all, even if it is a frigid spring, and so time to turn to gardening). But the more time I spent looking at the house, the less I was interested in its occupant and the more I was interested in its architect. And so I forgot Kelsey (for now–I’ll come back to him because he is pretty amazing), and began to focus on Ernest M. A. Machado, the likely architect of One Pickering Street and a man who is very easy to romanticize because he died relatively young, very tragically, and with much apparent promise.

Fortunately Machado’s life his well-documented: he seems to come from a family that wanted him (and all of its members) to be remembered: there is a nice genealogy and some pictures here, and the family donated his own photographs of completed projects to his alma mater, MIT. Ernest Machado was born just up the coast in Manchester-by-the-Sea to a Cuban émigré father and a North Shore mother who was orphaned but nevertheless connected. Juan Francisco Machado and Elizabeth Frances Jones met and married in Massachusetts, returned to Cuba for a decade, and then settled in Massachusetts permanently to raise their large family, first in Manchester and later in Salem. The Machado house is one of my favorite in Salem: a stunning brick Federal on Carpenter Street. Ernest attended Salem schools and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating from its pioneering architecture program in 1890. After working for at least two prestigious Boston architectural firms, he established his own practice in partnership with his future brother-in-law Ambrose Walker, with offices in Salem (on Church Street), Boston and Ottawa (where his brother was an established banker). In the later 1890s he seems to be working feverishly, with commissions in several Boston suburbs, Salem, and all along the North Shore. This pace continued in the new century, all the way up to his death by drowning in Lake Ossipee in New Hampshire in September of 1907: he was 39 years old and had just completed his most challenging commission: the 14,000 square foot brick mansion of Governor Charles B. Clarke on Portland’s Western Promenade.

Machado Kelsey House One Pickering Street Salem

Machado Carpenter Street Salem

The Kelsey House on Pickering Street & Machado family home at 5 Carpenter Street.

Machado’s mark on Salem is not hard to find. Besides the Kelsey house and a few other residences in the McIntire Historic District and the Phippen house on the Common, he supervised substantial renovations to the Salem Club and the Bulfinch Bank on Central Street. He rebuilt the Salem Lyceum on Church Street, and as a testament to his versatility, designed both a commercial building on Washington Street for the dry goods retailer Charles W. Webber and the Blake Memorial Chapel in Harmony Grove Cemetery. Yesterday I trudged over through driving rain to contemplate the chapel, and then walked up the hill to his grave, part of a family plot of elegant markers which apparently he also designed (and unfortunately very wet by the time I got there).

Machado 16 Beckford

Machado 4 Carpenter

_258185, 4/5/15, 9:41 AM,  8C, 4358x3223 (7538+1035), 150%, Custom, 1/160 s, R89.4, G34.6, B41.3

Machado Harmony Grove

Machado Chapel

Machado Graves

Machado Grave

Machado in Salem: 16 Beckford Street and Four Carpenter Street; his own photograph of the Webber store on Washington Street, from the MIT Machado Archive; The Blake Memorial Chapel at Harmony Grove Cemetery and the (very wet) Machado grave(s) at Harmony Grove.

Looking at his Salem work as well as the portfolio of North Shore commissions (lots of residences and clubhouses for both the Salem Country Club and the Manchester Yacht Club) in the digital archive at MIT, it’s hard to discern a distinct Machado style: there are Colonial Revival houses in both the classical and Tudor traditions as well as lots of Shingle residences reflecting contemporary trends. But remember, he was a young architect, just establishing his practice and business and no doubt catering to the desires of his clients. Who knows what he would have achieved over the next thirty or so years of his working life? He could have maintained and expanded his practice as a Gold Coast residential architect, or he could have rebuilt Salem after the Great Salem Fire of 1914. Or both.

Machado Agge House MIT

Machado C.F. Allen House MIT Dome

Machado R. Wheatland House MIT

Machado Sanden House MIT

Machado House MIT Dome

Machado House MIT

Machado Lynn House AABN

Machado’s photographs of his own work at the Machado Archive at MIT: the Agge, Allen, R. Wheatland, and Sanden houses, and two unidentified houses (one of which looks just like a house in my hometown, York Harbor, Maine); a Tudor house in Lynn, from American Architect and Building News, 1906.

Appendix: you can stay in Machado’s recently-restored Clarke “Manor” (below) in Portland via airbnb; My Machado-obsessed day ended appropriately with a birthday party at one of his buildings: the Salem Lyceum, now Turner’s Seafood.

Machado Clark House Portland Zillow

Machado Lyceum.jpg

18 responses to “Ernest M.A. Machado, Salem Architect

  • sheilaconnelly

    Did you say that Machado was the architect of 4 Carpenter?

  • Matt

    Another great post. Looking at the houses on Beckford and Pickering, two houses Sarah and I have long admired, I can see how they’re by the same architect. One is now is awful disrepair; the other a more “hidden” (from my standpoint) gem. The Harmony Grove chapel is another we love. Will need to look for that Portland property when we’re next up there. Familiar with that section of Portland (wonderful houses), but not that specific one. Best regards, Matt

    • daseger

      Hello Matt! Those house do look similar; his others, not so much! He was really do a lot of work in very little time, at the same time–it’s pretty amazing, and I’m sure I don’t have all of his work represented here.

  • helenbreen01

    Hi Donna, very interesting piece. What a shame that this young man died so young.

    Is that interior shot with the fireplace the Lyceum? Always loved that place but haven’t been there for a while.

    • daseger

      No, sorry Helen, that’s the Clarke Mansion up in Portland. I should have labeled it better. The Lyceum looks great though, in its current incarnation as Turner’s Seafood. Good food too.

  • emilyvaillpfaff

    I wonder how far back you have to go to find a link with Antonio Machado the Spanish poet who my poetry professor in Madrid would go on and on and on about….It seems they were born about the same time, AM in Sevilla and yours in that posh community up the coast. Gorgeous architecture. I miss it.

  • victoria Sirianni

    Great post on Machado. thanks Donna. you know he designed our house as well? shortly after he opened his Boston office I think. the drawings have both offices listed. Loved to see your story.

  • Katherine L. Greenough

    Dear Donna, I really enjoyed your post on Ernest Machado, and was particularly intrigued by the fact he designed the Manchester Yacht Club, where I’ve spent so much time in my life and where my brother was married. The name Machado rang a bell from my great grandmother’s memoirs. Flipping through it just now I couldn’t find the name easily. She was Charlotte Crowninshield Browne (1868-1967) and spent much of her life in Salem. I met you 2-3 years ago at a (of all things) wallpaper lecture with my cousin, Becky Putnam. Charlotte’s sister, Rebecca Crowninshield Putnam, is how I’m related to Becky. Have enjoyed so many other posts you’ve written as well. Best, Kathy Greenough

  • Almquist Nanny

    So much fun to read your post about Ernest Machado, one of my favorite relatives. He is my great x 2 uncle, I believe, and I am the one who posted his memorial on Find-A-Grave. I have been trying to find a contact at MIT so I could check out the archive of his photos that my Aunt Liz Osborne gave to The Tech as it was some times called in Ernest’s day.

    Becky Putnam told me about your blog and said that you knew something about Ambrose Walker, also an architect, who married Ernest’s youngest sister, Juanita.

    Thanks for keeping Ernest name and works in the public forum.


    • daseger

      Nanny–thanks so much for commenting, and for all of the information on the Find-a-Grave site. Ernest is held in high esteem here in Salem indeed!. I put the link to the MIT archive right here in the post (it’s underlined, under his grave, above): just click on it and it will take you to all the photographs that your Aunt donated to MIT.

  • Kim

    Hi Donna,

    My daughter told me about your site when she found our house’s picture on it. It’s very interesting and I enjoy wandering around it.

    We’ve lived in “The Machado House” or “The Joseph Edwards House” since 1993. I had the pleasure of having Nanny at its 200th Birthday Celebration. She’s shared great information about and photographs of her family with me.

    I’ve been working on a story about the house for over 20 years now and finally put it together in a readable format. Since you are an avid historian and admire 5 Carpenter Street, I thought you might be interested in it. After I saw this blog, I linked it to the section in the story on Ernest.

    Thanks for your continued writings and photographs!


  • Jane Berentson

    Hi Donna,
    Thank you for your post. We recently moved into the Charles Clarke house in Portland, and it’s magnificent. Do you know where we might find original blueprints of the house? We’d love to know the first configuration of rooms.

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