Cabot Constructions: Salem’s Lost Georgians

I am of two minds when it comes to genealogy: the professional historian in me thinks it is a bit antiquarian and lacking in context, but the local historian in me is very grateful to genealogists past, especially those who produced major family histories around the turn of the twentieth century, complete with lots of photographs of the old manses built by first, second and third generations. The other day I was looking for something other than the sources missing from my almost-completed manuscript’s endnotes, in other words, procrastinating, and somehow I found myself in the midst of the very comprehensive Cabot family genealogy: History and genealogy of the Cabot family, 14751927 by L. Vernon Briggs. The Cabots are a famous Yankee family, primarily associated with Boston now I think, but like so many Brahmin families—they started out in Salem. Some branches stayed, but most left: for Beverly, for Brookline, and for Boston. Everywhere they went they built great houses, and some of their best houses were right here in Salem. Unfortunately, only one survives: the Cabot-Endicott-Low House on Essex Street. I had read about the others, but never seen them, and in this great old genealogy, there they were! The Cabots had it all: ships and land and great country and city houses, but I only had eyes for these Salem Georgians.

The first Cabot house in Salem, built in John Cabot in 1708 at what is now 293 Essex Street; demolished in 1878: this is a great photo because you can see how commercial architecture imposed on Salem’s first great mansions on its main street.

Moved to Danvers! No time to run over there and see if it is still standing right now, but will update when I know.

Oh my goodness look at this Beverly jog! Built by second-generation Dr. John Cabot in 1739. Church Street was destroyed by urban renewal and is a shadow of its former self.

A familiar corner at the 299 Essex Street and North Streets: this Cabot house was built in 1768 by Francis Cabot and later occupied by Jonathan Haraden.

Survived! The Cabot-Endicott-Low House was built in 1744 by merchant Joseph Cabot and remains one of Salem’s most impressive houses. Its rear garden used to extend to Chestnut Street, and crowds would form every Spring to gaze upon it.

4 responses to “Cabot Constructions: Salem’s Lost Georgians

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    I am happy that you found pictures of those Cabot houses in Salem that no longer exist. I am not into genealogy so much myself, but have found reading these old family histories valuable in tracing local history. The Brahmins were huge into the study, often hiring professional genealogistx to complete their work.

    One example is Samuel Eliot Morrison’s study of the Joseph Peabody family of Salem, completed in the mid 20th century I believe. He wove in connections to the Endicott, Gardiner, Crownishield, Loring families. Morrison himself was a Peabody descendant. Glen Magna in Danvers remains a monument to their Peabody legacy.

    Of course, by today’s standards, many of these works border on hagiography.

  • Anne Sterling

    Three comments 1) look at the water front at 285 Essex St 2) I wonder if the structure is still extant over in Tapleyville in Danvers (I believe near Mckinnon’s Supermarket) there are some unusual structures over there. Do you know the address it was moved to? 3) check out that staircase!!

  • James Lee

    Fantastic photos!

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