Monday, June 30, 2008

17th Century Saturdays

17th Century Saturdays is (are!) one of my favorite events in the region. Salem and the entire Essex National Heritage Area, or north of Boston region, is incredibly rich in architectural treasures. There are dozens upon dozens of historic properties that are, on occasion, open to the public. The challenge for you, the patient visitor, has always been knowing just when such a historic site is open for visitation and exploration.

Many of the properties are staffed by volunteers who graciously give their time to sharing the sites they love with the public. There are a couple of cases where there is a paid staff, but a single person is responsible for staffing two, three, or five houses. (These are talented site managers, each and every one!)

Well, 17th Century Saturdays takes the guesswork out of the exploration of architectural treasures north of Boston. The program coordinates the first-period properties throughout the region so they are all (or most) open on the first Saturday of the month, June through October. This weekend, on July 5th, the following houses in Salem will be open to the public:
  • The Gedney House, 21 High Street. Built in 1665, the well-crafted and sophisticated timber framed house attests to the wealth and social standing of the home's builder and first owner, Eleazor Gedney. Gedney was a successful shipwright related by marriage to John Turner, builder of The House of the Seven Gables.
  • The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street. The House of the Seven Gables, also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, built in 1668, is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. The House of the Seven Gables inspired author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his legendary novel of the same name.
  • The Narbonne House, 71 Essex Street. The house is named after Sarah Narbonne, whose grandfather Jonathan Andrews purchased the house in 1780. Sarah was born in the Narbonne house, and lived there for her entire life, which stretched nearly the length of the 19th century.
  • The John Ward House at The Peabody Essex Museum (10:30 tour only). Begun about 1684 and added to on several occasions by John Ward, this frame house is an excellent example of the organic, additive process by which most such dwellings developed, growing and changing as family needs and finances dictated.
  • Salem in 1630 (Pioneer Village), Forest River Park. Salem's oldest living history museum is a recreation of the English colony established by Roger Conant and his intrepid band of settlers. From these humble beginnings, the seeds of Revolution were planted.
  • The Witch House (Jonathan Corwin House), 310 Essex Street. The Witch House is the only surviving building in Salem with ties to the Salem Witch Trials,
If you can't make it this Saturday, many of the sites are open again on Aug. 2, Sept. 6, and Oct. 4. For more information, visit

Photos: Gedney House, 1665; Kitchen hearth in The Corwin House, ca. 1642.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting Around Salem

Salem is a small city, but it is still an urban environment. Within Salem you will find corners of quaint New England; intersections of hustle, bustle, and traffic; and neighborhoods of hip boutiques and unique dining. In the mix are, of course, all of Salem's unique attractions and extraordinary museums.

All this is to say you should wear your walking shoes.

If you're not a big fan of getting from destination A to destination B (and on to C, D, and E) on foot, there are options. Salem is a two-trolley town. Cityview Trolley (silver) and Salem Trolley (red) are equally willing and able to provide both a one-hour narrated overview of Salem and then provide on-and-off shuttle service to help you connect sites. Both trolley companies service the Salem Ferry.

A slightly greener, and perhaps more colorful in all ways, mode of transportation is via pedicab. Salem is also a two-pedicab company town. Historic Salem Pedicab Tours and Salem Pedicabs will gladly take you wherever you need to go for free - the pedicabs operate for tips only. Historic Salem Pedicab Tours also offers pre-arranged historic tours of Salem's different neighborhoods and concierge services, as well as point-to-point transportation. Pedicabs also service the Salem Ferry and can be hailed around the streets of Salem.

If you're driving, park in one of the two Salem garages and leave your car for the day. If you travel by train or ferry, rest assured the trolleys and pedicabs can get you where you want to do, should your feet get weary!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ten Bentleys to Park on Central Wharf

Salem will be the final stop on a day-long driving itinerary for lifestyle journalists from around the world who are participating in a month-long press event for Bentley Motors. Ten Bentley Continental Flying Spurs will be arriving at Central Wharf at approximately 3:00 PM on Tuesday, July 1st and Thursday, July 3rd.

Bentley sets the standard for automotive luxury and performance, and in addition to providing cars HRH The Queen of England, Bentleys appear in the latest James Bond book, Devil May Care.

Salem was selected because of its history, its seaport, and the beautiful backdrops. Organizers were able to choose from Chestnut Street, Central Wharf, and other scenic locations. Central Wharf was ultimately selected for the harbor backdrop and to showcase the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and tall ship Friendship.

The public is welcome to come to Central Wharf to see and photograph the cars. The journalists and cars are expected to depart Salem at 4:00 PM on both days.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Toast" -- An Evening of Art, Music, Food and Fun

The Art Corner was devastated by fire in April 2008. This Saturday, June 28, the Salem Arts Association will host a Benefit for The Art Corner at the Ward 2 Social Club from 7pm to 10pm. The event will include music by Charlie Chesterman and the Motorbikes with a special guest appearance by Barrence Whitfield. Raffles and a silent auction will include juried works of craft and art, artist designed jewelry and gift certificates donated by local artists and business owners.

"The Art Corner’s owner Wendy Snow-Lang and her husband Charles Lang, are active supporters of the arts on the North Shore, and played a pivotal role in the re-formation of the Salem Arts Association last year," says Benefit Chair Sara Ashodian. "We think this evening is a fitting way to help them begin their re-building efforts."

Tickets are $10, and are available at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, 265 Essex Street, and Experimental Art Gallery and Studio on Artists Row just off Front Street in Salem. For more information on the benefit, the Salem Arts Association, and to get a glimpse at what is being auctioned and raffled, visit Salem Arts Association.

Construction in Salem

Alas, progress occasionally has some aches and pains. Salem is experiencing some of these now - but it is going to be very much worth the aggravation when all is said and done!

If you are coming into Salem via Route 114 East (from Route 128, perhaps), please be prepared for some delays along North Street when you enter Salem on Rte. 114. Crews are finishing up a fantastic North Street improvement project with line painting this week. For those of us who have been driving North Street daily during the improvements, it is exciting to see the end of the project is in site - and the road improvements look great!

Further along North Street at the intersection of Rte. 114 and Rte. 107, or North Street and Federal Street, there is a lot of construction happening as Salem prepares for a long awaited Court expansion. This project is just beginning, so we will see many months of lane shifts and construction that will result in a beautiful new court facility. For more information on traffic interruption due to the Court project, visit the City of Salem web site at

Finally, on Bridge Street between North Street (Rte. 114) and Winter Street (Rte. 1A) there is construction going on that will complete the Bridge Street bypass road. This project is expected to be complete - and the new road opened - in mid-August. That will be very exciting for everyone traveling between Salem and Beverly.

If you are coming into Salem from Rte. 128 and would like to avoid the construction entirely, take Exit 26 for Lowell Street and follow Lowell Street straight into Salem - it will become Main Street and then Boston Street before it ends at Essex Street / Rte. 107. Turn left on Essex Street and follow straight through two lights. Essex Street will end at Washington Street. Turn left on Washington Street and then take your first right onto Church Street. The Museum Place parking garage will be on your right at the end of Church Street.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekend Activities

There has been a lot of great activity in downtown Salem during the past few spring weekends. Fashion shows, environmental fairs, bands, theatre, and dining "al fresca" adds to Salem's dynamic downtown.

Come down this weekend and stop by Pamplemousse on Essex Street for a celebration of summer. After strolling along Essex Street, head back along Front and Derby Streets to Pickering Wharf and the waterfront.

Go for a schooner sail, visit the gardens behind the Derby House, explore the House of the Seven Gables, eat outside, overlooking the harbor at Capt.'s, Finz, or Victoria Station.

There is a lot of magic in Salem. Have you discovered it all ?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Salem Theater Scene

There is a lot of great theater coming our way in Salem. This weekend the Salem State College, Mainstage Theatre kicks off its 14th season of summer theatre when A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opens on June 20th. This classic musical is directed by David Allen George and stars Peter Zachari (in photo, courtesy SSC). Performances are: June 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and June 22 and 29 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 general admission and $15.00 for seniors and students.

Also this weekend - Dickens will come to life at The Griffen Theatre.
Eric Rodenhiser, artistic director of the Griffen Theatre, will present Charles Dickens as he explores the second career of Dickens, which took place in the 1850s and 60s when Dickens became a public reader and actor of his novels in both England and America. Rodenhiser will recreate Dickens' acclaimed evenings, bringing the man to life, reading from his popular works, such as the ever-thrilling "Sikes and Nancy" episode from Oliver Twist, and an excerpt from the beloved A Christmas Carol. Performances are: June 20th and 21st at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and children. The show runs approximately 80 minutes, with an intermission and complimentary beverages between acts.

For more information on both performances, including links visit the calendar of events on

Friday, June 13, 2008 is updated!

I've been waiting to blog about this, and I'm so excited to tell everyone that has been updated and features the current schedule for 2008!

This is a working schedule, and it will be expanded as we get closer to October - so check back often. We will also be adding information to the site on parking, road closures, links to accommodations, restaurants and attractions, information for groups, event sponsors, more pictures, and a page of information specific to the needs of Salem residents.

Salem Haunted Happenings is America's Halloween Festival, and we look forward to another year of fun costumes, exciting events, a few ghosts and goblins, and more fantastic fireworks to cap it all off!

If you have any questions about Salem Haunted Happenings, feel free to contact us at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair

Learn about cover renewable energy, transportation, building and remodeling, lawn and garden, organic food, household products and much more this Saturday at the Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair. It will be a fun, free, family Event!

Presented by the Salem Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Salem Main Streets and the Salem Renewable Energy Task Force, the fair will showcase businesses and organizations that promote green / renewable products. There will be exhibits from local, regional and national companies, activities for children, a series of green talks by environmental leaders at The Gathering and a free screening of "Kilowatt Ours" at Cinema Salem.

Schedule of Events:
10 am - 10: 55 am: Free Screening of "Kilowatt Ours" at Cinema Salem
10 am - 3 pm: Over 40 Vendor / Exhibitor Booths at Old Town Hall
11 am - City of Salem Clean Energy Day Proclamation in front of The Gathering
11 am - 12 pm: Salem Goes Green / Wind 101 presentation at The Gathering
12 pm - 1 pm: Living with Climate Change presentation at The Gathering
1 pm - 2 pm: Greenscapes 101 presentation at The Gathering
2 pm - 3 pm: Green Home Remodeling presentation at The Gathering
11:15 am & 12:15 am: Storytelling by Tony Toledo at Old Town Hall

For more information visit the Living Green Fair website:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bridget Bishop

On June 10, 1692, Bridget Bishop was executed on Gallows Hill in Salem. She was the first to be found guilty by the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which was established in May to try the witchcraft cases.

The Salem witch hysteria lasted for ten months of 1692, beginning in January when Reverend Parris' nine-year old daughter, Betty, fell ill. Other girls fell ill in the coming weeks, and the village physician deems the children "bewitched." The children are persuaded to reveal the names of people who are bewitching them, and those who are named are examined and arrested. By the end of the hysteria, nineteen people were executed for witchcraft. One man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to stand trial. More than 150 men and women from throughout the region were accused and imprisoned.

Today we remember the victims at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, located behind the Charter Street Burying Point. The memorial was dedicated in 1992 by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and it stands as a reminder of the lessons of tolerance and compassion learned from the Salem witch trails.

For more information on the Salem Witch Trials, visit the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch House, the Witch Dungeon Museum, the Witch History Museum, or the Salem Wax Museum of Witches & Seafarers. Information from the blog came from the Salem Witch Museum Miscellany.

view images of the Witch Trials Memorial, visit The City Guide at

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pioneer Village

open Salem in 1630: Pioneer Village for school groups and others by appointment in the month of June. The Village will be open regularly with History Alive! Folkways programs beginning in July 2008.

Located in Forest River Park about a mile south of downtown Salem, Salem 1630: Pioneer Village was created for pageants and demonstrations to celebrate Salem's tercentenary in 1926. The property includes replica structures that give visitors a sense of what it was like to live in Massachusetts in the 17th-century.

Today, Pioneer Village is being restored and preserved by Salem Preservation, Inc., and the Folkways program at Gordon College is providing interpretation. (Gordon College also does the wildly popular Cry Innocent programs in downtown Salem.)

Salem Preservation, Inc. has promised more information as it's available, and when I get it, I'll post it! In the meantime, there is great information about the preservation and restoration of Pioneer Village in Salem Preservation, Inc.'s newsletters.

Click here to see more of the beautiful photography by Rex Passion of Pioneer Village and the Gordon College Folkways program.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Twilight at the Phillips House

One of Salem's hidden treasures is The Phillips House at 34 Chestnut Street. It is the only house on Chestnut Street that is open to the public, and the collections are an incredible sampling of souvenirs from around the world. The house provides a window into Salem's most elegant era.

The Phillips House is launching a new program this week: Thursdays at Twilight. You are invited to visit the Phillips House at twilight and see how electric light of the early twentieth century transforms a Federal-era house. Selections from Phillips family home movies provide a glimpse of how the family lived in the house and entertained, and where they traveled in their leisure time.

Registration is required, and you can visit or call 978-744-0440 for more information. $10 Historic New England members / $15 nonmembers. If you can't go this week, the program will be offered again on July 3, August 7, September 4, and October 2.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sizzling Summer Cruises from Salem

Experience a new wave of entertainment cruises departing from Salem this summer! Join Salem Harbor Cruises on the Voyager III for a series of spectacular evenings filled with music, dancing, food, and fun! The vessel features a fully stocked cash bar, appetizers from Finz Seafood and Passage to India, and three decks for maximum comfort and enjoyment.


June 6: Salem PRIDE Cruise to benefit the Matthew Shepherd Foundation, tickets $39.00
June 27: Sunset Dance Cocktail Cruise
July 18: Jolly Roger Reggae Cruise
August 1: TBA
August 23: Blues of the Bay
September 20: Sinatra Saturday
October 25: Halloween Costume Cruise


  • All cruises run from 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • $35.00 at the dock, or save $5.00 by booking in advance.
  • Advance sales made online or over the phone at (978) 741-0220
  • Cruises depart from the Salem Ferry dock at 10 Blaney Street, Salem, MA 01970
  • Parking is free!
  • All cruises are 21+