Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walking around Historic Salem, Massachusetts part one

A stone Federal style church

During my two week stay in Boston in August of 2009 I ventured off to Historic Salem for a day trip to see what I thought would be a few nice Federal style mansions. Little did I know that Salem has the greatest concentration of 17th and 18th century domestic structures in the U.S. I quickly fell in love with Salem and had to go back for another day. The history and architecture of this city is amazing. Salem was one of the first city's in America to have a high number of millionaires due to privateering and shipping. By 1790, Salem was the sixth largest city in the country, and a world famous seaport—particularly in the China trade. Codfish was exported to the West Indies and Europe. Sugar and molasses were imported from the West Indies, tea from China, and pepper from Sumatra. Salem ships also visited Africa, Russia, Japan and Australia.

Prosperity left the city with a wealth of fine architecture, including Federal style mansions designed by one of America's first architects Samuel McIntire, for whom the city's largest historic district is named. These homes and mansions from Colonial America now comprise the greatest concentrations of notable pre-1900 domestic structures in the United States.

This wealth of architecture in Salem can be directly attributed to the Old China Trade, which was ongoing for years with America and Great Britain. The neutrality of the United States was tested during the Napoleonic Wars. Both Britain and France imposed trade restrictions in order to weaken each others' economies. This also had the effect of disrupting American trade and testing the United States' neutrality. As time went on, harassment by the British of American ships increased by the British Navy. This included impressment and seizures of American men and goods. After the Chesapeake Leopard Affair, Thomas Jefferson was faced with a decision to make regarding the situation at hand. In the end, he chose an economic option: the Embargo Act of 1807 and Thomas Jefferson basically closed all the ports overnight, putting a little damper on the seaport town of Salem. The embargo of 1807 was the starting point on the path to the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

1841 Greek Revival building made of Quincy granite

Detail of 1841 Greek Revival Quincy granite capital

Double wood frame Federal house

Delicate Carved wood urn fence post

A wood frame Federal mansion

A 18th century home

A 18th century home

A beautiful Federal mansion

A 18th century home

Double wood frame Federal house

A Greek Revival home

A wood frame A beautiful Federal mansion

A beautiful Federal mansion

18th century Federal building

Beautiful carved late 18th century Federal portico

Beautiful carved late 18th century details

 wood frame Federal house

A beautiful Federal Doorway

A beautiful Federal portico

A Federal doorway

Double red brick Federal house

Double doorways  

A beautiful Federal mansion

A Greek Revival partico

 Beautiful Federal carved details 


  1. Is this the witches Salem? It is gorgeous!

  2. Yes unfortunately this is the witches Salem but Salem has so much more then the witches!