Genealogical Houses

The practice and study of genealogy is supposed to be about people of course, but some of the genealogical tomes that I have consulted over the years seem to be almost as interested in houses, both family homesteads and the impressive residences of offspring. I’m not over-familiar with genealogical literature (I like a bit more context in my history), so I’m not sure whether this is a unique feature of Salem genealogies or not but many of the nineteenth-century histories of Salem’s venerable families feature plates of houses as well as portraits of the family members who lived in them. The best example, by far, is the weighty genealogy of the Pickering family and its many branches: The Pickering genealogy : being an account of the first three generations of the Pickering family of Salem, Mass., and of the descendants of John and Sarah (Burrill) Pickering, of the third generation by Harrison Ellery and Charles Pickering Bowditch, published in three volumes in 1897. The first volume is a veritable treasure trove of Pickering houses, most of which are still with us, others long gone. The second and third volumes follow the family through the nineteenth century and include lots of photographic portraits but few houses, as if to say we’ve built our houses for generations in true Yankee fashion–or perhaps we don’t like Victorian architecture. It seems to me as if the houses are presented as part of the foundation of the family, its very rootedness, as well as its thrift.

Pickering Houses no longer standing:

Diman House Pickering Genealogy

Haraden House Charter Street

Goodhue House

The James Diman House on Hardy Street, the Jonathan Haraden House on Charter Street, and the Benjamin Goodhue House at 403 Essex Street (I’m not sure of the dates of demolition of any of these houses, but I assume the Goodhue house was consumed by the Great Salem Fire of 1914).

Pickering Houses still standing, with the exception of the Phippen House, all in the vicinity of upper Essex and Chestnut Streets:

Clarke House Pickering Genealogy

Clarke House

Silsbee House Pickering Genealogy

Silsbee House

Cabot House Pickering Genealogy

Cabot House

Barnard House

Pickering Houses

Phippen House 1782

Phippen House

The Clarke, Silsbee, and Barnard Houses on Essex Street, the Pickering double house on Chestnut, and the Phippen House on Hardy and the grounds of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association.

7 responses to “Genealogical Houses

  • Jim Trumbull

    I don’t know if you’d qualify this as a true Pickering house, but 3 Cambridge Street was once the home of my great grandmother, Lucia Pickering Ropes and her husband, John Bertram Ropes. It’s the home in which my grandmother and her sisters were raised. While not germaine to your story, across from them through their backyard was the home of John Robinson. I have a collection of photos of these grounds from the time when he cared for the gardens, and as you might guess, it was beautifully landscaped space.

    • daseger

      Sounds like a Pickering house to me! I’ll check the Genealogy–it doesn’t have pictures of all the houses referenced. Great House! Would LOVE to see these photos, Jim!

  • Andre Mayer

    You use the pictures you have, or can get. People are preferred, but in the absence of painted portraits, images of people pre-1850 are rare; their houses, however, often survived into the era of photography.

  • Jim Trumbull

    I sent you an email via your posted comcast account… hope you have received it. I’ve included one photos for you, and an explanation. Hope to hear from you.

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