Friday, May 31, 2013
Often seen as possible witches, Quakers were persecuted in Salem for years.
Having come from what they considered an oppressive society, the Puritans were determined to follow their own ways, especially regarding religion. While they had been persecuted for their beliefs in England, this did not generate toleration in them. Once settled in the new world, they set about building a society that mirrored their beliefs. Knowing that the devil was about, they enacted strict laws. There was not separation of church and state when building a new Jerusalem. When settlers strayed from the accepted norms or failed to attend church meetings, they were fined and or punished. With such a theocracy, there was little room for dissent and no room for other belief systems. When Roger Williams advanced a new perspective, he escaped…
Friday, March 29, 2013
Here's the rest of the story about Old Glory Captain William Driver and the flag that's considered America's second most important flag of record.
On the corner of Essex and North Street there is a small park dedicated to the memory of Captain William Driver and his naming of the United States Flag, “Old Glory". That monument was paid for by donations of the school children of Salem who were moved to do so by a series of talks by Captain Nichols espousing love and respect for the flag. It was 1968 - and a time when traditional patriotic expressions were shredding under the weight of the Vietnam conflict. His talks touched a note with many and resulted in the small park commemorating this sea captain for so naming the flag. William Driver was born in Salem on March 17, 1803. After attending the Hacker School he was apprenticed to a blacksmith, but hated the work and prevailed upon his…
Thursday, February 28, 2013
When looking at Salem artists too often Fidelia Bridges is overlooked even though she was one of the country's leading watercolorists for many years.
Driving down Essex Street you may have noticed the house that borders the parking lot of the Hawthorne Hotel. For a number of years there was a sign out front stating the Suzannah Flint House. In recent years the name was changed to the Fidelia Bridges House. This no doubt caused some puzzlement if you noticed it. Who were these women and when did they live here? The house dates back to the early 19th century when the land was part of the property of William Gray that encompassed 98 and 100 Essex Street. The Flint property and presumably Suzannah Flint was next door at 96 Essex Street. It appears the house was accidentally named after a neighbor who there is little information about. When William Gray died he left the land to his son, …
Monday, February 18, 2013
As Presidents' Day approaches, this seems an appropriate time to look back at visits to Salem by men who served as President of the United States.
Probably the first man who would be president to visit Salem was John Adams who as a young attorney often rode the eastern circuit through the North Shore. He would stay at the home of Richard and Mary Cranch, on Mill Street, Salem. Mary was the older sister of John’s wife, Abigail. On a number of occasions, both John and Abigail visited. During one of these extended visits, they both had portraits painted by Benjamin Blyth. John would later become the first Vice President for Washington’s two terms, and then second President of the United States, from 1797 to 1801. On Oct. 29, 1789, George Washington, the First President (1789-1797), came to Salem to a huge celebration where he reviewed the troops, was feted with speeches downtown and a …
Thursday, December 27, 2012
With the recent rescue of Cinema Salem by concerned patrons distressed at the thought of Salem without a moviehouse this is a good time to examine Salem's long-standing love affair with the movies.
The Arrival of the Entertainment Industry In the late 1800s, Salem saw the rise of the entertainment industry, as vaudeville became a popular form of entertainment. Evolving from Burlesque shows, this family friendly variety type entertainment swept the country. Salem early on became a stop on the traveling circuit for entertainers and hosted some of the most popular entertainers of the day, from Sarah Bernhardt to George M. Cohen. In 1901, the first Salem Theatre opened at 273 Essex St. In 1907, Julius Cahn opened the Empire Theatre on 283-287 Essex Street on the site of Mechanic Hall that was destroyed by fire in 1905. Salem had the extremely popular Willows Amusement Park that had opened in 1880 which was a perfect venue for vaudeville…
Saturday, November 10, 2012
In honor of Veterans day let's look back at the deeds of valor that generated the highest military award for these five men of Salem.
Long before there was a Armistice or Veterans Day, Salem, like many other places, gave homage to veterans by naming streets and squares after them. Through the years Salem has continued to honor our veterans, both living and dead who exemplified American resolve and dedication through their actions under fire. Currently there are some 69 squares named for veterans in the city. There are also a number of streets named for veterans including the recently named Sgt. James Ayube II Memorial Drive who was killed in action in Afghanista on Dec 8, 2011. Salem is noteworthy as having had five (Congressional) Medals of Honor bestowed on Salemites over the years since the Medal of Honor was instituted in 1862. While four of the five were not …
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Halloween season is just about here — what do you think this witch is saying (as she flies over Salem)?
Salem historian Nelson Dionne is at again, with another vintage selection. This time, Nelson sent us a selection from a March 1942 edition of Esquire. With Haunted Happenings just days away from taking over downtown Salem, we want to know — What is this witch saying? Let's assume the duo is flying over Salem. Tell us in the comments.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
With the recent rescue of Cinema Salem by concerned patrons distressed at the thought of Salem without a moviehouse this is a good time to examine Salem's long term love affair with the movies.
In the late 1800s, Salem saw the rise of the entertainment industry, as vaudeville became a popular form of entertainment. Evolving from Burlesque shows, this family friendly variety type entertainment swept the country. Salem early on became a stop on the travelling circuit for entertainers and hosted some of the most popular entertainers of the day, from Sarah Bernhardt to George M. Cohen. In 1901, the first Salem Theatre opened at 273 Essex Street. In 1907 Julius Cahn opened the Empire Theatre on 283-287 Essex Street on the site of Mechanic Hall that was destroyed by fire in 1905. Salem had the extremely popular Willows Amusement Park that had opened in 1880 which was a perfect venue for vaudeville shows. Frank Gorman owned an open air …
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Crowninshield- Bentley house is steeped in Salem's history as well as the setting for a horror story by a master of terror, H.P.Lovecraft.
In the early 1600s, Johann Caspar Richter moved from Denmark to the town of Kronenschieldt in Upper Saxony (present Germany) and married Maria Hahn. The family then added the town’s name to their own. Their son Johannes Caspar Richter von Kronenschieldt, after being educated in Leipzig, moved to Boston around 1688. Arriving in this English-speaking area, he anglicized his name to John Caspar Crowninshield. In 1694 he married Elizabeth Allen, the daughter of a ship captain. They lived near Spring Pond that was the border between Lynn and Salem. Little did they realize that they were the beginnings of a family dynasty that would stretch through generations of power and influence in Salem and beyond. Their family would be included in the …
Sunday, July 29, 2012
A long gone neighborhood store brings back memories of root beer and its deep historical roots in the country and Salem.
The above circa 1929 photograph of 6 Orne St. is interesting for several reasons. Here, like many other places throughout the city there was a small neighborhood store. The City Directory first lists the building in 1926 as the Melcher Gift Shop. Gertrude Melcher of Buffum Street ran the shop, which seems to have sold refreshments as well as gifts. While there were and are several stores on nearby North Street, presumably this store catered to the Liberty Hill and North Street areas. The vintage photograph from 1929 was used by the City as an example of tree damage caused by the disposal of ice cream salts in the street. This resulted in stricter enforcement of a City Ordinance banning the practice. It was also proposed that new …