Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Long after the Witch Trials and several generations before the onslaught of Neopagans, these postcard views of Salem, Massachusetts depict a lively mercantile town conscious of its history but not averse to modern amenities like trolley cars, amusement parks, and seaside bathing. Many of the buildings shown below still stand, though at least two have been moved from their original locations.

The "Old Bakery," now known as the Hooper Hathway House, was moved from the location above in 1911 and is now part of the House of Seven Gables National Historic Landmark District. As shown above it serves as the premises for "Horace E. Coffin Cabinet Work Painting & Polishing"; there is a furniture repair shop next door.

The Roger Williams House, now called the Witch House or the Jonathan Corwin House, was relocated in the 1940s and is now a museum. Corwin was a magistrate during the Witch Trials of 1692 and played a part in the examination of several of the accused; one of his colleagues was Nathaniel Hawthorne's great-great-grandfather. Advertisements for Castoria and other horrors can be seen in the storefront windows; Shorpy has an image so similar to this one that it must have been taken at nearly the same time. The Shorpy image shows utility wires that may have been retouched out by Rotograph.

The YMCA Building, built in 1898, still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This card was addressed to a Mr. Louis Woods at Wheeler Point, Swastika Cottage, Gloucester, Mass, but then this address was crossed out and 10 Howard St. Salem Mass was written in instead. A "swastika cottage" was a contemporary building type with four rooms arranged in a square; a simple floor plan can be found in a 1912 issue of Good Housekeeping.

The House of Seven Gables above is a major tourist draw, carefully restored (I've visited it myself). Not so the structure below at 14 Mall Street, which was the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne between 1847-1850; it's in private hands, has been subdivided, and at least from the outside appears much modified in recent photographs.

Finally, below are several scenes from Salem Willows Park, a thriving amusement park that drew weekending Bostoners and others.

Concerning the pavilion in the image above, an online guide to Salem informs us that "this rather unusual looking structure boasted a roller skating rink complete with a live orchestra, on the bottom floor, and a 300-seat restaurant on the second. A rear tower in the pavilion housed a camera obscura, a novel apparatus that projected scenes from as far away as Beverly and Marblehead onto a white table in an otherwise dark room." I'm not clear as to whether the same building still stands, although the park continues to operate. Judging from the image below the printer seems to have been unsure of what color to use for the tower.

All of the postcards above were copyrighted in 1905.

Update: Here's a monochrome Rotograph view of "Gallows Hill," reportedly the site of a number of executions carried out during the Salem Witch Trials.

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