Thursday, September 30, 2010

FreePort [No. 001] - Contemporary Art at the PEM

“The job of the artist is not to invent something new but to reveal what already surrounds us.”

— Charles Sandison

This weekend the PEM will launch a new contemporary art initiative called FreePort with the installation of a work by Charles Sandison entitled Figurehead, and inspired by the PEM's collections.

Internationally renowned for his animated digital projections, artist Charles Sandison is installing a site-specific artwork created for the Peabody Essex Museum's East India Marine Hall. Sandison's work activates the words of 18th-century ship captains' logs to create an immersive environment drawing upon the trade routes, politics, competition and voices that led to the founding of the museum and the origins of PEM's remarkable collection. Organized by PEM's Curator of Contemporary Art, Trevor Smith, this installation marks the first in a series of contemporary art interventions in PEM's FreePort initiative.

Launch Party
The PEM will celebrate the launch of the new Contemporary Art Initiative FreePort and the installation of Sandison's Figurehead at a launch party on Friday, October 1. Admission is free, but please RSVP on the museum's Facebook page. The party starts at 8:00 and features DJ Flack, dancing, a cash bar, and dessert. Attire is cocktail/contemporary.

Visit for more information on FreePort, Sandison, and everything else happening at the PEM!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The History of Victoria Station

I'm lifting today's blog post right off of Victoria Station's new web site. I'm doing so because I didn't know all of the back story (for instance, Johnny Cash) for this landmark restaurant. It is the oldest restaurant on Pickering Wharf, and as Salem's restaurant scene booms, Victoria Station remains a cornerstone of the city's myriad dining options.

And, I must add, they serve beets in the salad bar. Like having a fresh salad bar isn't great enough!

So, here it is, the Story of Victoria Station:

As many of you that have visited Victoria Station in the last 30 years know, its story is a long winding one.

It was 1970 when three graduates from Cornell Hotel School created an exciting new theme restaurant Victoria Station. They were inspired by the world famous Victoria Station. The style was historic and nostalgic utilizing a bright red phone booth, English taxi cabs, historic train memorabilia and authentic train cars turned into dining cars creating a nostalgic, warm and fun atmosphere.

The first Victoria Station was opened in San Francisco to great accolades and success. The chain quickly became one of the fastest growing corporations in America. By the 1980's the company had grown to over 100 restaurants across the globe with thousands of employees and famous singer Johnny Cash as their spokesperson. (It was his inspiration for his song Destination Victoria Station). Victoria Station also has its own autobiography written by historian Tom Blake called Prime Rib and Boxcars. Once Victoria Station came to New England, Victoria Station on Pickering Wharf began to create its own architectural style utilizing the train station inspiration of the original restaurant and the famous train station with touches of the historic Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA. where it is located. Victoria Station Salem created its own specific style while honoring the traditions and standards that became synonymous with the chain.

Trains Keep a Rollin'

Victoria Station Salem is now the last remaining one in the United States. It is proud to continue the Victoria Station name and restaurant management continues to pay close attention to the historic and nostalgic atmosphere with a new approach and even higher standards than today's customers demand. They specialize in classic New England cuisine with a fusion of the once great Steakhouse and still offer Victoria Station's signature slow roasted Angus Prime Rib and "All you can eat" Salad Bar. Today they are proud to use as many fresh local ingredients as possible and receive their seafood direct from local vendors on a daily basis.


Last year Vic's Boathouse opened, serving an even greater number of patrons with a brand new full service Oceanside bar and lounge, serving delectable cuisine and featuring live free local entertainment every weekend. This year the Boathouse has been improved with a fantastic selection local brews, spirits and an ever changing extensive wine and cocktail selection.

A combination of a passion to serve and satisfy along with storied traditions make Victoria Station and Vic's Boathouse a staple in the Salem culinary scene, making it a premier destination for friends and family to make life long memories.

Monday, September 27, 2010

LivingWell in Salem

Eating healthy is key to feeling good!

That was the first line of an email I received from Living Well Salem this morning, and I've got to tell you - it had me at "healthy."

LivingWell, which is a full-service spa and wellness center, where the service menu ranges from traditional massage to bodywork to holistic medicine, and now includes a series of cooking workshops.

The first series is called, Fighting the Sugar Blues with Naturally Sweet Vegetables. During three 90-minute sessions, you will learn about the highs and lows of sugar and how it effects your moods, emotions and productivity as well as how to satisfy your sugar cravings without spiking your blood sugar. The workshops, led by Chef Bill Mallette, will be fun, interactive, informative and delicious!

You can check out LivingWell Salem's recent newsletter here. It has all the information and links you need learn more and sign up!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gay & Lesbian Wedding Expo Comes to the Salem Waterfront Hotel on Sunday

Same Love, Same Rights® will be in Salem on Sunday, September 26 with the 6th Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo. The Expo, at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites from 12:30-3:30 pm, will be an elegant afternoon affair filled with joy, music, planning tips & activism.

If you are planning a wedding or honeymoon, stop by the free expo to check out more than 25 unique businesses, covering each aspect of your ceremony, honeymoon and home life. Each exhibitor is screened to be supportive; ready to assist you & your partner in creating your special day!

Exhibitors will include: Wedding coordinators, Officiants, ceremony & reception venues, cake decorators, DJs and musical ensembles, floral designers, travel professionals and honeymoon getaways, legal professionals, parenting resources and many more.

The show is Free to Attend! All LGBT couples are welcome, as are advocates and allies. The Expo will feature Tips & Trends, Music, Samples and Interactive Presentations, including words from the founders of, who will share vital insights about preserving marriage equality and helping make a difference everyday in our attainment of equal rights across America.

But wait, there's more! You & your partner will leave the expo with a Goodie Bag brimming with essential resources and new contacts. You are sure to find unique ideas and fresh inspiration at the 2010 Salem, MA Same Love, Same Rights® Wedding Expo!

RSVP here for this event. (Your RSVP is not required, but if you do you will receive a free Go Green subscription to Rainbow Wedding Network's online magazine.)

If you are planning a wedding in Salem, visit Destination Salem's Wedding page on, which has venue, jewelery, and photographer information. If you and your partner are planning to visit or vacation in Salem, we welcome you to visit our LGBTSalem page on

Friday, September 24, 2010

Open House at Roost and Beehive on Monday!

Jamie & Kate at Roost and Beehive are excited about fall, and they want to share their excitement with you!
Stop by their Big Thanks Open House on Monday, September 27, 5-8pm. There will be light refreshments, store-wide discounts, and giveaways!

If you haven't visited Roost and Beehive (30-40 Front Street) yet, you're in for a treat. They offer a mix of vintage and modern gifts for home and human, and the funniest cards you’ve ever seen. (I'm a big fan of their magnets. And jewelry. And vases. And t-shirts.)

Check them out on Monday. Or any day! (They are open late, perfect for browsing prior to dinner at one of our stellar eating establishments on Washington Street!)

The Hawthorne Hotel Makes a Delicious Change!

The historic Hawthorne Hotel has revamped their award-wining Sunday Jazz Brunch with a new Prix Fixe menu.

Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad, Fresh Fruit Plate, Brioche French Toast, Croque Monsieur, Huevos Rancheros, Chocolate and Banana Bread Pudding and Gourmet Cupcakes (are you hungry yet?!) …the list goes on and these dishes combine to create a recipe for success.

As buffet brunches have become less popular and more expensive, the Hawthorne Hotel has made the decision to change to a more manageable—and served—three-course brunch. Now, all food is made to order, rather than sitting in chafing dishes on a buffet line.

“The freshly cooked style is much more ‘green’ as well—not as wasteful of both food and fuel to prepare and hold it,” says Juli Lederhaus, General Manager of the Hawthorne Hotel. “In addition, we have made the decision to limit seating for this new brunch to only the front room.”

The brunch runs each Sunday from 10am-2pm and priced from $16.95 per person. Specialty cocktails are available as well. Jazz musicians are featured each week. Reservations for brunch can be made by calling 978-825-4311.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Coach House Inn

I was at the Coach House Inn yesterday, and found myself reminded of how charming this B&B is! Innkeeper Patricia Kessler does a wonderful job of maintaining the charm and comfort of this 1879 Victorian home on Lafayette Street.

The details are wonderful. From the chandeliers...

... to the in room sinks, especially this one built into a first-floor room, which I found completely charming!
The inn is filled with light, Oriental carpets, and plants, making it feel especially comfortable.

Many of the rooms have fireplaces - some real, and some faux (can you tell the difference?!).

There are 11 rooms, making it one of Salem's largest B&Bs. It is located in an historic district, between downtown Salem and Marblehead, near Forest River Park and Salem State University, and just two blocks from the harbor.

Continental breakfast is served in your room each morning, which is fantastic for people who love the charm and uniqueness of a bed & breakfast but dread the social aspects of breakfast in the dining room (you know who you are!). And who doesn't love sipping coffee and eating croissant in bed?

Best of all? The Coach House Inn still has some availability during October this year. Visit for information and rates.

Derby Square Books

I was walking down Essex Street yesterday and when I peered into Derby Square Books and saw the tilt of the front bookshelf, I had to take a picture.

Have you shopped here? It's a most remarkable store. The men who own it know where every book is in the store, and there are clearly a lot of books in the store! It is definitely a unique shopping stop in Salem.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lunch at Capt.'s

I had a lovely lunch at Capt's today! Just look at the pictures...

If you haven't been to Capt.'s, it is located on Pickering Wharf overlooking the marina, Central and Derby Wharves. That's the tall ship Friendship on the left. A lovelier view you could not have in Salem!

We ordered salads, and they were absolutely lovely! (So I had to take pictures...) Above is the garden salad with steak tips and balsamic dressing.

Below is Capt's Special Salad with lemon thyme dressing. I should have taken a side view - it's all wrapped up in cucumber strips.

A beautiful and yummy lunch, indeed! And, if the view is luring you in, the forecast all week is great.

Woops! I was a week off...

My apologies - we need to set our DVRs and VCRs and make plans to head to CinemaSalem to see The Lobster Shanty on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives NEXT Monday, September 27th at 10pm. Sorry for the error!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Don't forget to watch Triple D on Monday!

Salem is having another brush with fame next week, and we have The Lobster Shanty to thank this time. The Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives will stop in Salem on Monday night's episode, which will feature host Guy Fieri at The Lobster Shanty.

You can watch at home (10pm Eastern, but check local listings to confirm) or join in the party at Cinema Salem, where the show will air on the big screen, and admission will be free!

Correction... and my apologies - the Lobster Shanty Triple D will air on Monday, September 27.

Lunch Hour at the Gedney House starts... in 30 minutes!!

You probably wanted more warning on this one - sorry! Regardless, the rain has stopped, and if you're in Salem today, you should head over to the Gedney House. It's a true local treasure.

Here's the scoop: Spend lunchtime touring Historic New England’s Gedney House, located steps away from Salem’s downtown business district. Enjoy a rare opportunity to take a guided tour of this 1665 property highlighting seventeenth-century architectural details, including elaborate framing, original paint treatments, and four centuries of layered architecture.

This free event is a part of Essex National Heritage Commission’s Trails and Sails series. Fifty minute tours will start at 12:00 and 1:00 p.m on Friday, September 17. This is a first come, first serve program with limited space available. For more details about Trails and Sails or to create your personal itinerary, please visit or call 978-744-0440.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's your turn to see the Emperor's Private Paradise at the PEM!

This week the Peabody Essex Museum opened the new, much anticipated exhibition, The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City.

The exhibition has received incredible coverage by Time, The Boston Globe, and the Financial Times.

The PEM created this excellent preview video (3:15, not too long!) to give you a sense of the grandeur and privilege associated with the pieces that have come to Salem from Beijing.

And, in this video (a longer 8:25) Matt Lauer visits and tours The Forbidden City in 2009 with Henry Ng, from the World Monument Fund.

Now that you are so excited to see this exhibition, you may need some place to stay... The Hawthorne Hotel has a Peabody Essex Museum package, and you will find additional accommodations on

The exhibit runs through January 9, 2011. That only feels like a long way away. Make your plans to visit Salem today!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trails & Sails kicks off this weekend!

Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water kicks off this week. These weekends will feature more than a hundred free events throughout the Essex National Heritage Area, which includes Salem, of course!

Organized by the Essex National Heritage Commission, Trails & Sails is an annual celebration of the Area's natural, cultural and historic resources. And what better way to get people engaged and involved than offer events for free?!

The goal, of course, is to spark interest in and stewardship of the resources and the region, so use the weekend to visit and explore the places you keep saying you've never visited, or do a tour with a new perspective. Organizers suspect, and hope, that once you've gotten a taste of the heritage area, you'll want to come back for more.

Events planned in Salem over the next two weekends include...
  • Marine Lab Exploration at Cat Cove Marine Laboratory (did you know there is a marine laboratory in Salem?). Observe aquatic life and learn of these organisms are used to understand and manage aquatic resources!
  • Eye Spy Nature Walk will look for nature's varied shapes and repeating patterns at the Ropes Mansion Gardens!
  • Guided tour of the new exhibit: The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City at the Peabody Essex Museum
  • Visit the Derbys - 1770 Style! The ladies of refined taste will be visiting Mr. & Mrs. Derby in the gardens behind the Derby House for an afternoon of genteel entertainment. Join them!
  • Sophia Hawthorne's Salem - Join Mrs. Sophia Hawthorne for a tour of hte Salem that she and her husband Nathaniel knew.
  • Salem 2010 Garden Tours will celebrate the anniversaries of the Salem Athenaeum, Historic New England's Phillips House, and the House of the Seven Gables.
  • Lunch Hour at the Gedney House will give you a lunch-hour peek at one of Salem's architectural and historic gems!
  • Hawthorne Hotel Tour - This wildly popular tour will sell out! And the lucky participants will get to see cabin on the roof that is the home to the Salem Marine Society.
  • The Witch House Physick Herbs - guided and self-guided tours of this 17th century house will reveal remedy recipes wtih some very shocking ingredients!
  • Salt Marsh in the City will be a "walk and talk" led by Salem Sound Coastwatch at Old Creek Marsh.
  • Looking South: Salem State University and Lead Mills will feature the history of Salem State University, which began as the Salem Normal School, and a discussion of the Salem Lead Mills and the naturally occurring lead found in the area.
All of the events are free, and some recommend reservations, so visit for the full scoop.

And to learn more about the Essex National Heritage Commission, the Heritage Area, and their Explorers program (it's like Trails & Sails all year long!) visit

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Literary Festival Line-Up Announced!

This just in from the Salem Lit Fest, which opens its doors this weekend - September 17-19...

The Salem Literary Festival
, in its third year, announces a line-up of events that goes beyond writing workshops and author readings, although they have those too, in spades. No worries, the popular SCRABBLE® Tournament is back, and there’s still an opportunity for writers to strut their stuff at an open mic. But this year’s schedule also features highly creative fare aimed at entertaining and inspiring book lovers, wordsmiths, families and the casual passer-by. On Saturday the 18th, there’s a slew of storytelling to enchant the young and young-at-heart; special tours of the 1820’s jewel The Phillips House, perfect for stirring the imagination of lovers of historical prose; and, the Salem Theatre Company performs monologues culled from the micro-stories in Quick Fiction Magazine.

On Sunday the 19th, the Festival undertakes a day-long, cover-to-cover reading of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in celebration of this classic’s 50th anniversary; join in as a reader by emailing Try your hand at writing poetry and translating it into beautiful Chinese calligraphy. Didn’t catch those monologues on Saturday? They’re back on Sunday!

Salem’s own Brunonia Barry (THE LACE READER, THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES) will kick-off the Festival with a welcome on Friday evening, prior to a reading by headlining author Lily King, whose new novel FATHER OF THE RAIN has received universal accolades and a passel of recognition and prizes. Brunonia Barry will also open the MOCKINGBIRD marathon as its initial reader.

Other authors scheduled to appear include Steve Almond, Myfanwy Collins, Elyssa East, Brian Evenson, Ethan Gilsdorf, Lynne Griffin, Katherine Howe, Jennifer Jean, Amy MacKinnon, January O’Neil and Doug Stewart.

For more information and a full schedule, go to

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Images from Salem's South River Walking Tour

While an awful lot of people were watching the Patriots win their first game of the season, about 25 of us were enjoying a fascinating walking tour hosted by Historic Salem, Inc. The tour, led by historian Margherita Desy, was entitled, "Looking South: Salem's South River."

We began at the Gedney House on High Street, which once faced the water, and walked to Central Wharf, which we learned was once called Forrester Wharf, at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The tour was fact-filled, focusing on the changing topography of Salem over the past 200+ years, and touching on some of the devastation of the Great Salem Fire of 1914.

In the photo above, we are standing in the municipal parking lot in Riley Plaza. Much of the tour took us over landfill. This spot looks up to Mill Hill and over toward the police station which was once the Mill Pond. The mills in Salem ground wheat, snuff, and chocolate (not at the same time, we hope).

Here we are on the corner of New Derby Street and Lafayette Street. The building on the top left of the image where Engine House Pizza is located is the only building on this block that survived the Salem Fire.

From this spot (above) on the South River Harbor Walk, adjacent to Finz, we learned about the Pequot Mills (now Shetland properties), which was the largest building under one roof when it was built.

Adjacent to Shetland Properties is the Pequot House, above. This house was built for the 1930 tercentenary of the settling of Massachusetts. It is not a First Period structure. When it was built by the Pequot Mills, it was for interpretive purposes. They had costumed guides and decorations that they believed represented the 17th century (but apparently they really represented the 18th century).

I always new this house was a replica, but I never knew why. The information is particularly useful because we have received letters at Destination Salem from visitors who are horrified to see the picture window in a 17th-century structure!

And we ended on Central (formerly Forrester) Wharf, adjacent to the tall ship Friendship (which is on Derby Wharf).

This was one of two Sunday in September Walking Tours. The second tour will be on Sunday, September 26 at 2:00 pm at Salem State University. The tour will include the history of Salem State, from Normal School to Teaching School to Salem State College, now University. The September 26 tour will also go to the Forest River conservation area to talk about the former Salem Lead Mills.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Salem Witch Museum Conservation Work

If you've visited Salem this summer, you have probably noticed the shroud that covers the Salem Witch Museum.

The iconic edifice, which is one of the most photographed buildings in Salem, is undergoing one heck of a conservation effort. The Museum is preserving the stone work, roof, windows, and its massive pointed-arched triforium window.

Built in 1845, the building was originally the Second Church Unitarian. The staff at the Salem Witch Museum is doing an excellent job documenting the conservation of the building exterior, and the progress is being documented on the new Salem Witch Museum blog, Notes & Notions, as well as on their new YouTube channel.

There is a complete description of "What's Going On" at the Salem Witch Museum on their Web site at

And, if you're coming for Haunted Happenings, fret not! The netting is scheduled to be removed at the end of September, when the October awnings will be installed to protect visitors from the elements as they wait for admission!