We treasure our historic buildings in Salem. We love taking them in as we stroll by on foot, imagining them in their original context. The public spaces and passageways that allow us this experience are an integral part of what defines cities. Throughout history it has been the cities that have contained spaces that are the least presumptive about who should be there and what they are doing – spaces that truly embody what it means to be public. The porous boundaries of public spaces allow people to come and go without having to announce themselves or their intentions either formally or by their dress and demeanor. These are the vital interstices of the built environment: open plazas, squares, parks and other green spaces, promenades--and even ordinary streets and their sidewalks.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Lewis Hunt House, one of Salem’s lost architectural treasures, is that it survived long enough to be photographed. The two-and-a-half story first period house stood on the corners of Washington and Lynde Streets until it was razed in 1863. The house was built on land acquired by Capt. Lewis Hunt in 1698. Hunt was a mariner and surviving records show that he captained the ketch Industry to St. Kitts in 1687 and the brigantine Adventure to Barbados in 1713.
The house remained in the Hunt family for five generations. It passed to William Hunt (1701-1780), a mariner and merchant, then to his oldest son, Deacon Lewis Hunt (1746-1797), a baker. After Deacon Lewis Hunt’s death, his two oldest daughters, Eunice and Sarah, sold the property to their brother, William. William died ten years later, and in 1823, William’s only child, Lewis Hunt III died in an accident at the age of 18. The house was then owned Eunice’s son John Russell, Jr., who sold the property to his sister, Sarah Orne Russell, in 1863. It was Sarah, living in the gambrel-roofed house to the north of the Lewis Hunt House, who had the old structure built by her great-great grandfather torn down.
We're currently reading "The Past & Future City" by Stephanie Meeks, the President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In it, Meeks explains the critical importance of preservation for all our communities, the ways the historic preservation field has evolved to embrace the challenges of the twenty-first century, and the innovative work being done in the preservation space now.
Nestled behind a row of houses on Mason Street and a row of businesses on Commercial Street sits an industrial building that is, for the moment, empty. It started life in 1917 as a Hood ice cream plant before it became an adhesive factory and most recently a metal fabrication shop. Soon it will be rehabilitated to house 10 condos, with its grounds home to an additional 19 townhouses. This type of project is really exciting for Historic Salem for two reasons. The first is that this project seizes the vision of the decade old North River Canal Corridor plan, and the second is, of course, the that it reuses a historic, industrial building.
But why does the reuse of this rather nondescript and relatively unknown old building matter?
“I love everything about Salem, but some things need to change.”
Do you like where you live?
We took this question to our membership in a “Coffee Conversation” format as part of the city-wide Imagine Salem initiative. When we address preservation issues at Historic Salem we try to start from the premise that the people who live in Salem love Salem like we do. This was proven in our conversations with members and the wider public.
The federal Historic Tax Credit program (HTC) is our government's largest investment in historic preservation and since its inception, the program has leveraged nationally over $120 billion in private investment and revitalizing often abandoned and underperforming properties. Over 400 preservation projects have been financially supported by the HTC since 2002. The HTC creates jobs, increases local tax revenue, leverages private dollars, is a catalyst for investment in our communities and is often a critical financial component of restoration projects that may otherwise not have happened.
Review this letter then add your signature today! Preservation Massachusetts, Boston Preservation Alliance, and others will take this letter to Washington DC in two weeks to meet with Massachusett's congressional delegation. The deadline to sign onto the letter is 5:00 PM on Friday, March 10.
Sunday, February 26th marked the 242nd anniversary of Colonel Leslie's retreat & over 200 people came out to celebrate with a reenactment! Thank you to Reverend Jeffrey Barz-Snell and the First Church congregation for hosting the reception. Thank you to Stacia Kraft for helping organize the event and thank you to our actors Charlie Newhall, Jonathan Streff, Eric Rodenhiser, Jeff Barz Snell, and Alicia Diozzi. Thank you to Hamilton Hall & Murphys Funeral Home for providing meeting locations. And thank you to our friends & neighbors for showing up and having fun with history!
To celebrate Valentines Day in true preservationist style, we created e-Valentines for some of our favorite houses around Salem!
Where do we even begin? We at Historic Salem, Inc., are beyond thankful for the outpouring of love + support for this year's Christmas in Salem. It's an exceptional time in our beautiful city to celebrate the community and the rich legacy of historic homes in town. We're filled with gratitude; from the generous homeowners, who welcome our community into their private abodes, to the talented florists and decorators who create gorgeous holiday designs, to our musicians who fill the homes with holiday cheer. To the hundreds of volunteers who help make the weekend so special, we say 'thank you and happy holidays.' To our partners (Karen Scalia of Salem Food Tours, Salem Garden Club, Salem Wine Imports, historian Jim McAllister, and Hannah Diozzi of Salem Strolls), the weekend would simply not be the same without you. You donate your time and energy to make this weekend a unique event in Salem. New to this year's tour, we introduced vendors on the Common, and we'd like to give a special shout out to those that braved the cold (SalemSpice, Jodi Bee Bakes, Partridge in a Bear Tree Salem, Knyte & Riley Jewelry, La Crêperie de Stéphanie, Popped Gourmet Popcorn & Ice Cream, Beverly Bees). A special thank you to the Hawthorne Hotel for serving as our headquarters for the entire weekend! And to our numerous sponsors, thank you for your support of such a special weekend. This weekend would not be possible without your support. Please visit christmasinsalem.org for a full list of sponsors. A very special thank you to John Andrews of Creative Salem for taking the beautiful photos we are thrilled to share here. All photo credits belong to Creative Salem. May all your days be merry and bright. Happy holidays!
For this holiday season, we are happy to have collaborated with Windows of Salem artist, Elissa Von Letkemann to offer a curated collection of historic home-inspired greeting cards! Cards can be purchased on Etsy. Check out the press release below to learn more.