Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sundays in Salem -- Historic Walking Tours

Tracing the Path of the 1914 Salem Fire

Historic Salem, Inc.'s Sundays in September
2008 Walking Tour Series

Historic Salem, Inc.

Salem, MA...On June 25, 1914 a devastating fire ignited on Boston Street in the leather-manufacturing district of Salem, Massachusetts, and, over the course of two days, destroyed 1,376 buildings and left 18,000 people-almost half of Salem's 1914 population--homeless and many without jobs. Join Historic Salem, Inc. and historians Donald Friary and Margherita Desy as they trace the path of the fire and examine how this blaze shaped the city's economy and society over the past century. The path of the fire will be divided into three tours.
The General Alarm: The First Streets to go up in Flames
Sunday, September 14th, 2008 at 1:00pm - Learn about the destruction of Salem's tanneries, and trace the path of the fire along the edge of the historic McIntire district. Then find examples of rebuilding in the then popular Colonial Revival style, incorporating fire-retardant techniques. This 90-minute tour will meet at the Walgreen's Parking Lot at the corner of Boston and Proctor Streets and conclude at the Broad Street Cemetery.

The Conflagration Strikes South Salem.
Sunday, September 21st at 1:00 pm - A high west wind on that June afternoon in 1914 carried sparks and embers across the Boston and Maine railroad tracks to South Salem. The resulting fires consumed not only the Naumkeag Mills and crowded tenements in the Point, but also elegant homes along Lafayette Street and boats moored in Salem Harbor. This 90-minute tour will meet at the Council on Aging Parking Lot at Broad and Winthrop Streets, and conclude at St. Joseph's Church on Lafayette Street.

The Fire Swallows Salem's Jobs: The Point, the Mills, and the Waterfront.
Sunday, September 28th, 2008 at 1:00 pm - Participants will learn about the French community that was hard hit by the fire, and will tour the former locations of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Mills and the wharves on South River that that had employed so many in Salem. Join this tour to discover where the fire was finally stopped with a pre-emptive explosion and then imagine the enormous and heroic relief effort that began to feed, house, and clothe the refugees. This 90-minute tour will meet at the Fire Station, corner of New Derby and Lafayette Streets and conclude at Salem Common, where one of three tent cities accommodated the fire's victims throughout the summer of 1914.

Donald Friary, Principal of History for Hire LLC and Director Emeritus of Historic Deerfield, holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization. He led the 2007 Walking Tours as a convincing Reverend William Bentley. Margherita Desy, is the Historian for the Naval Historical Center Detachment Boston, working with USS Constitution. Prior to this, Margherita Desy worked for Historic New England's Phillips House in Salem as Curator and Site Manager. Both of these distinguished historians reside in Salem.

A suggested donation per tour of $5 for members and $10 for non-members for the Sept. 14th and 21st tours will contribute to Historic Salem's Preservation Mission. There is no charge for the Sept. 28th tour, which is being offered in conjunction with Essex National Heritage Area's Trails and Sails Weekend. For further information please call (978) 745-0799 or visit


Getting to Salem

Go car-free - Take the Salem Ferry or the MBTA Commuter Rail or Buses!

The Salem Ferry - A 45-minute high-speed catamaran connects Salem with Central Wharf, Boston, alongside the New England Aquarium.; 978.741.0220
MBTA - Take the Newburyport or Rockport lines from North Station or Bus 450/455/451/456/465/468.

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