Women's History
Walking Trail Route

Bonnie Hurd Smith leading a walking tour for Girls, Inc. on Chestnut Street.

You can jump in at any point, but here’s the route we devised to take you throughout downtown Salem in a big loop that begins and ends at The House of the Seven Gables. The walk will take you 1 1/2-2 hours at a leisurely pace. Contact us for a guided tour. Buy the book, which has dozens of historical photographs!

The House of the Seven Gables

54 Turner Street
Caroline Emmerton created this museum campus to preserve some important structures connected to the Salem author Nathaniel Hawthorne, and provide income for her settlement house. This was also the home of Susannah Ingersoll and Mary Turner Sargent.

Directions: Exit through The Gables parking lot to Derby Street. Turn right.

The House of the Seven Gables Settlement House
114 Derby Street
Caroline Emmerton’s settlement house provided a range of services to newly arrived immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Directions: Reverse your direction on Derby Street.

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie
122 Derby Street
This business continues to manufacture Mary Spencer’s famous “Gibraltar” candies that traveled the world onboard Salem ships in the early eighteenth century.

Directions: Continue along Derby Street.

St. Joseph Hall
Derby Street, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
The National Park Service, which owns this building, is still investigating the stories of the Polish women who spent time here caring for their community. People from Poland arrived in Salem in the nineteenth century to work in the nearby cotton mills. This hall was a community center, providing all kinds of services and space for celebrations and meetings.

West India Dry Goods Store
Derby Street, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Stop in to see the kinds of spices, tea, porcelain, and fabrics women could purchase in Salem thanks to the ships that sailed the world and returned with all manner of goods. The Park Service's guided tour called "Home from the Sea" includes a visit to this store.

Derby House
Derby Street, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
This was the 1762 home of Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby and Elias Hasket Derby; Elizabeth played an unusually involved role in the construction of the grand Derby mansion in downtown Salem, which, sadly, no longer stands.

Custom House
Derby Street, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Sophia Peabody Hawthorne’s husband, the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, worked here.

Derby Wharf, Friendship, and Salem Harbor
Derby Street, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
While Salem’s men went to sea, the women stayed at home to raise and provide for their families, run businesses, and more. Sometimes, their husbands and sons did not return. Salem had a number of charitable organizations dedicated to the care of widows and struggling families. The large white buildings off to the right are the former Naumkeag Steam Cotton Mills where women and men worked to produce cotton sheeting. The original buildings were consumed in the Salem Fire of 1914, but they were quickly restored and the company was back in production. Salem’s ties to trade in the West Indies (and elsewhere) and to cotton production link Salem merchants to slave labor, a story that is now being told by the Park Service.

Association for the Relief of Aged and Destitute Women
180 Derby Street
This organization was founded in 1861 by a group of Salem businessmen who wished to provide end-of-life care for their female domestic staff, many of whom had no family. This grand building, called Brookhouse after its generous owner, Robert Brookhouse, continues to serve as a residence for elderly women.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site Visitor Center
193 Derby Street
Superintendent Cynthia Pollack is credited with bringing the neglected Park Service site and the Derby Street neighborhood back to life. The Visitor Center's auditorium is named for her.

Directions: Continue along Derby Street.

Home of Sarah Derby
168 Derby Street
A native of Hingham, Massachusetts, Sarah Langley Hersey married into the famous Derby family of Salem and moved here in the mid-1700s. She had a keen interest in education; while still married to her first husband, Dr. Ezekiel Hersey, they donated funds to Harvard College to start the country’s first medical school. Upon the death of her second husband, Richard Derby, she returned to Hingham where she founded Derby Academy in 1784; it is considered the first coeducational school in America and continues to thrive today.

Directions: Continue along Derby Street and cross Hawthorne Boulevard.

Lydia Pinkham Memorial Clinic
250 Derby Street
Aroline Pinkham Chase Gove and her daughter, Lydia Pinkham Gove, created this memorial clinic in honor of their mother and grandmother, respectively. Lydia Pinkham's life-long devotion to women’s health included books on health care, her famous vegetable compound, and a hugely successful family business in Lynn.

Directions: Walk up Hawthorne Boulevard. Turn left on Charter Street.

Nathaniel Felt House
Peabody Essex Museum

26 Charter Street
Felt and his wife, Eliza Ann Felt, who were both prominent members of the small community of Mormons in Salem, took in Vilate Young in the 1840s to enable her to pursue her education in Salem. The daughter of Mormon leader Brigham Young, it is likely she learned of the news of the death of another Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, in this house; in 1845, Vilate’s father collected his daughter from Salem, and the family moved West to establish a community in Illinois and then in Nebraska.

Site of Salem Hospital
31 Charter Street
Salem’s first hospital was located roughly where the tall modern building now stands, thanks to the great philanthropist John Bertram, Caroline Emmerton’s grandfather. The hospital opened in 1874, nine years after the close of the Civil War. Nursing was professionalized during the war thanks, in part, to Clara Barton who founded the American Red Cross. The seventh training school for nurses in America opened in Salem in 1879. The original building was destroyed in the Salem Fire of 1914. Officials built a new hospital on Highland Avenue, where it remains today as part of the North Shore Medical Center.

Directions: Walk up Charter Street and turn left onto New Liberty Street.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial
New Liberty Street
A moving remembrance of the innocent victims of the Salem Witch Trails of 1692.

Directions: Return to Charter Street and turn left.

Peabody Family Home
54 Charter Street
Eliza and Nathaniel Peabody moved their family here in 1835, including their three daughters, Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia. In this home, the Salem author Nathaniel Hawthorne met and began to court Sophia Peabody. The front entryway was later removed and installed as the rear entrance to the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Directions: Return to Hawthorne Boulevard and turn left. Note the Salem Boys & Girls Club across the street, a philanthropic interest of Caroline Emmerton. Note also the statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne, for whom the street is named.

Woman’s Friend Society
12 Hawthorne Boulevard
The society was formed in 1876 by Kate Tannatt Woods and other prominent Salem women to provide skills training, a reading room, employment assistance, and other services to young women. They assumed ownership of this building starting in 1879, thanks to John Bertram and his daughter Jennie Emmerton. The society then provided rooms to single working women and students at reduced rates, which continues today.

Directions: Walk up Hawthorne Boulevard and turn left onto Essex Street. Note the Crowninshield-Bentley House, a property of the Peabody Essex Museum, and the home of the Rev. William Bentley whose eighteenth-century diaries provide numerous accounts of Salem women.

Gardner-Pingree House
Peabody Essex Museum

128 Essex Street
A magnificent example of a merchant class home during Salem's prominence in the maritime trades.

Directions: Continue along Essex Street.

Plummer Hall
Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

134 Essex Street
Plummer Hall originally housed the Essex Institute (now, the Peabody Essex Museum) and the Salem Athenaeum, thanks to a bequest by Caroline Plummer.

Directions: Continue along Essex Street.

Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square
This is the oldest continuously operating museum in America, now housed in a stunning new structure designed by Moshe Safdie.

Armory Memorial Park
Peabody Essex Museum

Corner of Essex and New Liberty Streets
Dedicated in 2003 on the site of the Salem Armory, which burned down, the park honors the 400-year military heritage of Essex County. The brick walkway, in the sheltered breezeway between the park and the National Park Service Visitor Center, includes the names of some of the women who contributed to war efforts over the centuries.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site Visitor Center
New Liberty Street
The auditorium in the visitor center is named for former superintendent Cynthia Pollack. The introductory video shown here includes many women's stories over the centuries.

Directions: Continue to the end of new Liberty Street. Directly across is 18 Brown Street.

Salem Young Women’s Association
18 Brown Street
The Association provided classes, lodgings, a reading room, and more for young women in Salem in search of advancement. They also ran an annual vacation house, often at the famous Salem Willows Amusement Park.

Directions: Turn right and walk up Brown Street. Turn left on Washington Square.

Salem Witch Museum
Washington Square
The museum offers a reputable dramatic presentation of what happened before and during the witchcraft hysteria of 1692, along with an interesting exhibit on “witch hunts” throughout history — including recently.  

Directions: Return to Brown Street.

John Ward House
Peabody Essex Museum

Brown Street at Howard Street
(tours leave from the museum at East India Square)
The house contains a 17th-century kitchen, and is the site of a woman-run cent shop and the Colonial Revival studio of artist Sarah W. Symonds.

Directions: Continue along Brown Street, which quickly turns into Church Street. Note the stone St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which Anglicans attended before the American Revolution. Pass Museum Place Mall, and continue straight ahead.

Lyceum Hall
43 Church Street
This building is a replica of the original, now housing a restaurant and upstairs function hall. In the nineteenth century, the hall was used by numerous reform organizations as well as by the Salem Lyceum Society which welcomed some of the most prominent lecturers of the day.

Directions: Cross Church Street to the walkway between the Firehouse Coffee Shoppe and the municipal parking lot; cross through to Federal Street, continuing along the walkway.

First Universalist Society
Corner of Ash and Bridge Streets
Dedicated in 1809, this meeting house was home to a progressive religious community that welcomed women ministers early on. John Murray, the English Universalist preacher, was integrally involved in the founding of this society. His wife, the author and women’s rights advocate Judith Sargent Murray, was well known to Salem Universalists. She also influenced the philanthropist Caroline Plummer.

Directions: Turn right on the walkway.

Home of Elizabeth Munroe
7 Ash Street
“Bessie” Munroe, while in her eighties, refused to let Salem tear down this 1811 Federal style home. The surrounding buildings were removed in the name of urban improvement, but this house and the Universalist church remain.

Directions: Return to Federal Street and turn right. Cross Washington Street.

Tabernacle Church
58 Washington Street at Federal Street
Ann Hasseltine Judson and her husband, Adoniram, were sent as missionaries from this church to Burma to spread Christianity. Their ship was the last to leave Salem Harbor in 1812 before war with Great Britain closed the port. They were considered leading figures in American evangelism, having defined the nature of missionary work for an entire generation.

Directions: Continue along Federal Street.

Site of Home of Susan Burley
56 Federal Street
While the house no longer stands, this is where Susan Burley lived with her sister, Elizabeth Howes, and Elizabeth’s husband, Frederick, for a number of years, and where she conducted her important Saturday evening salons. Among her guests were the three Peabody sisters (Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia), Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other leading Unitarians and Transcendentalists who attended the nearby North Church (today, part of the First Church in Salem).

Directions: Continue along Federal Street. At the end of the block, look to your left, where Federal and Lynde Streets form a “V” and Lynde Street begins.

Thought and Work Club
36 Lynde Street
A tea room at this address served as the home of the Thought and Work Club, founded by author, editor, and journalist Kate Tannatt Woods in 1891 to encourage literary discussion and pursuits. This club was one of hundreds formed across the country as part of the Woman's Club Movement of the nineteenth century.

Directions: Cross North Street and continue along Federal Street.

Pierce-Nichols House
80 Federal Street
A property of the Peabody Essex Museum, this elegant 1782 mansion was the home of two generations of Nichols Sisters. The first set, known as the “Aunties,” were Sarah, Lydia, Elizabeth, and Mary Jane Nichols who lived here in the late 1800s. The second group, Martha, Charlotte Sanders, and Sarah Augusta Nichols, sold their home to the Essex Institute in 1817, while maintaining life residency, for the enjoyment of the public. The PEM leads tours of the house today.

Directions: Continue along Federal Street.

Home of Mary Curtis-Verna
101 Federal Street
The daughter of a prominent physician at Salem Hospital and a mother who taught piano, Mary studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York and went on to become an opera singer with New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company.

Directions: Return to North Street and turn right. Note the home of the celebrated navigator Nathaniel Bowditch. Turn right on to Essex Street.

Judge Jonathan Corwin House, “The Witch House”
310 1/2 Essex Street
This is the only property in Salem with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It was the home of one of the judges. Today, it is owned by the City of Salem and open for tours.

Directions: Continue along Essex Street.

The First Church in Salem, Unitarian
316 Essex Street
Gathered by English Puritans in 1629, the First Church eventually split into five churches, only to be reunited many years later. The current building is the second meeting house of the North Church, which embraced Unitarianism in the early 1800s.” Among the church’s members well known women members were the Peabody sisters (Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia) and their mother who was also named Elizabeth, Susan Burley, Mary Curtis Verna, and Caroline Emmerton.

Ropes Mansion
Peabody Essex Museum

318 Essex Street
Built in 1727, many generations of the Ropes family lived here until its last residents, three sisters named Sarah, Mary Pickman, and Eliza Orne Ropes, remodeled the house and created a botanical garden for enjoyment and study with the intention of opening the house to the public. The Peabody Essex Museum assumed ownership in the 1980s, and today offers house tours to show the public a magnificent home filled with Ropes family furnishings. Note: a fire took place here in August 2009. Luckily, the damage was minimal, but the house is closed indefinitely.

Home of Caroline Emmerton
328 Essex Street
The home of one of Salem's most important philanthropists and preservationists who created The House of the Seven Gables.

Salem Athenaeum
337 Essex Street
The Athenaeum moved here in 1905, installing a plaque in honor of Caroline Plummer whose generosity had funded the Athenaeum’s original home in what now houses the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum. The book club started by Susan Burley in the 1840s continues to meet today.

Salem Female Charitable Society
353 Essex Street
Founded in 1801 by women for women and children, the society provided assistance to “needy widows” and “destitute females” in Salem. Children were placed under the instruction of a “Governess” who would educate and care for them. The society opened Asylum House for orphans at 89 Lafayette Street, accepting children from any religious denomination.

Salem Public Library
370 Essex Street
The widow and daughters of the great philanthropist John Bertram donated their magnificent home to the City of Salem for a public library.

Directions: Continue for another half-block on Essex Street.

Quaker Burying Ground
Essex Street
Many of the graves of the early Quakers are unmarked by tradition. During Puritan times, Quakers were not welcome in the rigid Massachusetts Bay Colony. In Boston, Mary Dyer was hanged. In Salem, Deborah Wilson was stripped to the waist and forced to walk through Salem streets while she was lashed.

Directions: Reverse your direction on Essex Street and turn right on Flint Street.

Women’s Clinic
The brick house on this corner housed a clinic for women where Carolyn Gardner would dispense birth control in the 1930s before it was legal in Massachusetts. She was often arrested, but continued to work to change the law.

Directions: Turn left onto Chestnut Street.

Saunders House
41 Chestnut Street
Elizabeth Elkins Saunders, who lived here in the early 1800s, was a frequent contributor to local newspapers on the subjects of poverty, justice, and philanthropy. Two of her daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Caroline, married into the prominent Saltonstall family. Years later the Colonial Revivalist artist Mary Saltonstall Parker lived here and created wonderful textile art, some of which is owned by the Peabody Essex Museum.

Home of Elizabeth Reardon
35 Chestnut Street
An amateur student of colonial architecture, Elizabeth Keats Butler Reardon identified some of Salem’s earliest buildings, which had long since been altered. She was instrumental in preserving two important structures, including the Gedney House, which is now owned by Historic New England. “Libby” Reardon was a founding member of Historic Salem, Inc., a preservation and advocacy nonprofit that still works to preserve Salem’s architectural resources.

Phillips House
34 Chestnut Street
Now a property of Historic New England, the Phillips House tour tells the stories of the “upstairs” and “downstairs” residents, including the women. The house is beautifully furnished with Phillips family possessions dating back to their early days as ship owners and traders.

Home of Sarah Lockhart Allen
31 Chestnut Street
A miniaturist and crayon portraitist, Sarah Allen produced lovely works of art in the early-mid 1800s, some of which are owned by the Peabody Essex Museum. She never married, and left her sizable estate to her three nieces to ensure their financial independence.

Home of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop
17 Chestnut Street
The daughter of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here for a while starting in 1867 while she pursued her education. She later became a nun, and started an order of sisters devoted to the care of cancer patients.

Hamilton Hall
9 Chestnut Street
John and Nancy Remond ran a successful catering business from this location. A prominent African American family, they were active in the abolitionist cause. Their daughter, Sarah Parker Remond, was one of the most prominent female anti-slavery lecturers. This was also the site of a school for girls in the early 1900s.

Schools for Girls
2 Chestnut Street
“The Studio” was housed in this building in the late 1880s, and run by Mary S. Cleveland and Chattarina Agge. Salem’s early commitment to female education was well known far beyond its borders; schools for girls were sprinkled throughout the city. Its reputation led to the founding of the Salem Normal School in the nineteenth century to train women to become teachers. In 1897, as female education progressed and women’s colleges opened, women in Salem founded the Salem Society for the Higher Education of Women to provide encouragement and financial assistance.

Directions: At the end of Chestnut Street, turn right on Summer Street and walk to the end of the block.

Salem Normal School
Corner of Broad and Summer Streets
Founded in 1854, the Salem Normal School was established to train women to teach in America’s public schools. Among their graduates was Charlotte Forten. Today, this school is Salem State College.

Directions: Turn back down Summer Street the way you came. Turn right onto Norman Street.

Telephone Building
22 Norman Street
In an earlier building in this area, women telephone operators were lauded for their bravery during the Salem Fire of 1914. They were the vital mechanism of communication, and refused to leave their posts despite the approaching fire.

Directions: Return to Summer Street and turn right.   

Home of Louisa Lander
5 Summer Street (The Salem Inn)
The accomplished sculptor and acquaintance of Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here. Years later, the philanthropist Caroline Emmerton was born in this building.

Directions: Continue along Summer Street to Essex Street.

Driver Park
Corner of Summer and Essex Streets
William Driver may have named his flag "Old Glory," setting off a centuries old tradition, but there is a little-known women's history story involved.

Directions: Turn right and continue on Essex Street, noting Barton Square on your right, the site of the childhood home of Caroline Plummer.

Site of the Salem Woman’s Club
11 Barton Square
Organized in 1894 by a group of prominent Salem women, the club not only provided intellectual stimulus and social gatherings through lectures, concerts, plays, and teas, it also offered opportunities for members to contribute philanthropically in the community. This site was the home of Dr. Sarah E. Sherman, the club’s first president.

Directions: Cross Washington Street to the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall.

Site of the Essex Gazette and Women Publishers
Corner of Washington and Essex Streets
The building no longer stands, but this is where Salem’s early newspaper was published. In the eighteenth century, Salemites read the works of the African American Boston poet Phillis Wheatley whose condemnations of slavery were published in the Gazette. Salem women took up the cause of abolition in the next century. The Gazette ceased publication in 1775, at which time Mary Crouch arrived in town to start publishing the Salem Gazette and General Advertiser.

Directions: Continue walking along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall noting Salem’s handsome Old Town Hall on your right.

Salem Female Employment Society
155 Essex Street
Founded in 1861 by prominent Salem women, the society initially provided sewing work to poor, unemployed women. They sold goods created by women from a storefront at 366 Essex Street owned by Lydia Stone. With the advent of sewing machines, the handwork they promoted was no longer in demand and the society closed in 1877.

Women Shop Owners and Retail Workers
Essex, Central, Lafayette, and Union Streets
From early cent shops, millineries, dress making shops, and food markets, to today’s array of stores for clothing, home furnishings, mementoes, and more, women have owned their own businesses or worked in retail in Salem’s downtown business district for centuries.

Directions: Continue walking along Essex Street, past the entrance of the Peabody Essex Museum. Cross Hawthorne Boulevard. Note the historic Salem Common in the distance, and the historic Hawthorne Hotel where Elizabeth Montgomery stayed during a taping of her television show "Bewitched." The hotel also houses a two-part restaurant; the front half is named Nathaniel's, the second half is named Sophia's after the Hawthornes.

Narbonne House
71 Essex Street
This humble, 1675 house, now owned by the National Park Service, housed the cent shop owned by Sarah Narbonne. Also known as “Thread and Needle Shops” or “Button Stores,” these shops were usually located in an ell (or addition) of a woman’s home and offered all manner of dry goods.

Directions: To the left of the Narbonne House is a wooden walkway that takes you to Derby Street. Turn left on Derby, and return to The House of the Seven Gables.
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