Today we follow up on last week's discussion on downtown locations that are in need of some work.
You and I probably frequent many of the same places. We stop for coffee or a muffin, read a newspaper or just sit and chat with a friend. We all have our favorite spots whether it be a breakfast place or a bench somewhere.
Some of the spots may have changed in appearance or in name over the years, but many have long been places where locals meet to discuss sports, business, family or politics.
Town House Square is one of these places. Many no longer know it by that name. My grandfather, Bill Hussey, used to meet his cronies there when Gerber's Restaurant was in its heyday. He continued to walk there daily up until he fell ill in 1985.
Here are the five spots that I love in and around the Salem downtown.
Private Garden at North and Lynde Streets — First, I must confess that on many an occasion I accept a bribe in the form of tomatoes as I pass by this lovely spot. This little house has a great garden with flowers crawling along the fence, well maintained bushes and a great vegetable patch with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and a variety of herbs. The whole property looks great and no one in Salem does a better job in the winter of clearing their sidewalk of snow.
The Derby Street Waterfront — From Wharf Street all the way to Blaney Street, you have restaurants and watering holes, historic sites, great old houses and the ferry. Having spent my teen years living within throwing distance of Derby's Wharf, my affection for this area goes back 40 years. The view from the top of Orange Street as you turn from Essex Street is perhaps the best in town.
Traffic Islands — Yes, traffic islands. Thanks to the efforts of many people, including the the Salem Garden Club and private businesses, the traffic islands throughout the downtown are always blooming in full color. Seasonal plantings and decorations are often featured. I love to see the ladies of the garden clubs and beautification committee hard at work on weekend mornings. It adds flair and shows that there are people in Salem who care to do something other than cry and complain. Those who participate in the window box program also get appreciation here.
Front Street, Derby Square and Artist Row — This entire area is a prime example of what can be accomplished when building owners, private business and the creative community work together. Goldberg Properties had a vision that businesses like Front Street Coffee House, Maria's Sweet Somethings and J-Mode have helped fulfill. Artists' Row, which has morphed from what used to be the marketplace, has endured despite years of physical neglect. The re-birth of the farmers' market with products from Maitland Farms here in Salem adds tremendously to this spot and, perhaps, bodes well for the future.
Two Old Fountains — At opposite ends of the pedestrian mall sit two concrete fountains built during urban renewal in the 1970s. Each tells a story related to Salem history. Years ago, the larger fountain was an afternoon gathering spot when the weather ran hot. They both sit neglected now, waiting for a decision to be made as to their fate. A decision I fear that has already been made.
It would sadden me greatly to see either consigned to the dustbin of Salem memory.
There you have it, Coach Stafford — these are the things I love in the downtown.
What did I miss from your list? Be sure to tell us in the comments.