Christmas in Salem Historic House Tour, Part Two

As previously mentioned in my last post, Christmas in Salem Historic House Tour, Part One, due to work obligations I had to return to Connecticut late Friday night after having had the chance to tour four lovely homes during the Preview Night so it was going to be up to my friend Juli to tour the remaining houses that were going to be open over the weekend. With the special dispensation to take pictures in hand, Juli set off with her husband Walt on Saturday and again on Sunday and then sent the photos to me so that I could see what I missed - which looks to have been a lot! Like I said, better planning is in place for next year's Historic House Tour! In the meantime, this post will share with you what I missed so that we can both enjoy it!

The first house that Juli and Walt stopped in on Saturday was the Clarence S. Clark House that I also mentioned in my last post but which you're still going to have to wait just a little longer to see as I'm saving it for a post of its own.  Having had the privilege and pleasure of a private tour, I took a lot of pictures there so I think that a private tour deserves a private post - no offense to the other beautiful homes that were on the tour!

After the Clark House (with which Juli tells me Walt was quite smitten) they continued on to the Smith-Silver House, a Federal style home that was built in 1803 by Jabez Smith, a Danvers native, who designed and built a number of the city's most beautiful homes.  Looking at Juli's photos gave me even more reason for wanting to kick myself for not calling out sick (cough, cough!) from work so that I could see it in person - especially when I saw the pictures of the "floating" staircase. Of course it's probably a good thing I wasn't there as I would have been itching to climb it to take more pictures which was something Juli said she wanted to do also but alas, going up the staircase was not part of the tour.

The house had a beautiful front door but Juli said that it wasn't the one that they entered the house through, instead visitors were instructed to enter through a back door that opened into the kitchen with the tour then continuing on into the dining room.

Love the Christmas Ornaments as Pool Balls

Beautiful The decorators of the house were very creative with their use of Christmas ornaments as pool balls while the living room was very festive with its stockings hung by the chimney with care and the lovely Christmas tree with vintage toys beneath its branches. And then there was that "floating" staircase with the decorative medallion at the top ... beautiful!

Thirty-One Warren Street

Next stop on the Historic House Tour was Thirty-One Warren Street which was constructed after the original four town homes that stood on this spot burnt down in the Great Salem Fire of 1914 during which 243 acres with 1,376 buildings were destroyed after a series of explosions started a fire in the Korn Leather Factory.

Following the fire, the owner of the block hired architect William G. Rantoul, of the Boston firm Jacques and Rantoul, to design three new three-story town houses in the neo-Federal/Colonial Revival style that would fit in with the other Federal and Colonial Revival homes in the surrounding area. After plans were drawn up, the three new town homes were constructed from brick - just in case there was ever another fire.

One of the things that visitors were told to look for was the living room fireplace mantle that has a carving of a Samuel McIntire-inspired basket of plenty which can be seen in the picture below.

I loved the top hat tree topper on the Christmas tree above as well as the reindeer food and place cards that wer set out on the dining room table!

From Thirty-One Warren Street, the next stop was Summer Street and the John Stone House that was built sometime between 1762 and 1820.

The house appears to have been built as a double home right from its beginnings as there are both north and south entrances however, there is some confusion as to the house's origins as there is a date of 1762 carved into one of the foundation stones but the first mention of the house in public records isn't until 1820.

Juli and Walt's next house on the tour was the Francis Cox House on Chestnut Street which is one of the earliest residences constructed of Italianate design in the United States. Unlike Salem's Georgian and Federal style homes, this home as an asymmetrical look with smooth surfaces, intersecting pitched roofs, and bracketed cornices.

The house contains the original copper sink and radiators in the butler's pantry, wall sconces in the dining room that reportedly belonged to Napoleon, and fireplaces that were constructed of an Italian marble that is no longer imported. The original gasolier lamps were converted to electricity and in keeping with the original wallpaper having been applied upside down, when the butlers pantry was restored the new homeowners had that wallpaper also hung upside down to match. The home also contains old photos of Chestnut Street along with a drawing of the house by Salem illustrator and artist Racket Shreve who was one of the home's neighbors.

Sconce believed to have belonged to NapoleonOriginal lamps were gas, converted to electric
Wallpaper Hung Upside DownFireplace constructed of Italian marble that is no longer imported.
Packing down the snow by rolling logs

The Misses Pickering House on Hamilton Street was next on the agenda though the house was originally located on part of the Timothy Pickering estate. Pickering, a Salem native, was a former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who went on to become the third United States Secretary of State serving in that office from 1795 to 1800 under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.

The Colonial Revival style house was built in 1922 and moved in 1962 from its original location at 2 Pickering Street, northwest of the Pickering House, to its current location on Hamilton Avenue.  At the time, moving an entire house was not at all uncommon as it was far less expensive than building an entire new dwelling.

Even though I've done some research, I've yet to be able to determine exactly who the Misses Pickering were; perhaps there is someone associated with Historic Salem, Inc. that might see this and be able to fill me in. Hopefully!

One of the many things that I thought was intriguing about this house was the chain hanging from the eaves that you can make out if you look very closely at the picture to the left.  Juli told me that the reason for it was that the house didn't have rain gutters so the chain was there as a way to channel the water that ran down from the roof to the ground below.  Pretty ingenious, huh?  She also said that the small box located to the left of the window is believed to be an alarm box though she wasn't positive about that.

An easy walk had Juli and Walt at their next destination fairly quickly - the Stephen W. Phillips House at 34 Chestnut Street which is not just a historic house but also a museum. The house has a very interesting history which began with the daughter of Elias Hasket Derby, one of America's first self-made millionaires from the sea trade.

Elizabeth and her husband, Captain Nathaniel West, inherited Derby's farm in nearby Danvers upon her father's death in 1799 and at that time, they built a large country house on the property. In 1806, shortly after the house on which they spared no expense was completed, divorce forced Nathaniel off the property. Following Elizabeth's death in 1814, the house was left to her three daughters and when one of the daughters died in 1819, Nathaniel inherited one-third of the estate. In 1821, Captain West proceeded to move four intact rooms from the Danvers country house (his one-third of the estate) by ox sled to Salem's fashionable Chestnut Street to form the core of a new Federal-style mansion. After the four rooms were in place, West then added a hallway, a third floor, and a back ell section.

Nearly a century later, Anna Wheatland Phillips bought the house in June of 1911 for “$1.00 and various sundries” and launched a fourteen-month renovation in the Colonial Revival style which was undertaken by architect William G. Rantoul. Mr. Rantoul stripped away the elaborate Victorian interior designs and recreated a "Federal style" look by incorporating large windows to let in the sunshine and fresh air which was necessary for good health and sanitation and made other renovations to reflect the Phillips' wealth and status in society. Previous to moving to this home, the Phillips family lived in a home at 35 Warren Street which was destroyed in the Great Salem Fire of 1914 a mere six months after their move. When Anna, her husband Stephen Willard Phillips, and their five-year-old son also named Stephen moved in, they brought with them a family collection that spanned five generations and continued to blossom during Salem's Great Age of Sail, a collection which now makes up the museum which is operated by Historic New England. If you'd like to read more of the house's interesting history, it's available here.

In the library is a Christmas gift that Stephen gave to Anna just before they announced their engagement, a photographic copy of a portrait of the children of Charles the First; while in the parlor there is a collection of Christmas cards as well as a copy of Stephen and Anna's engagement announcement.

Their engagement announcement.  Too sweet.

The dining room table was set with with the custom-painted Rose Medallion dinner service that Anna had inherited upon the death of her father (Stephen Goodhue Wheatland) in 1892. Anna and Stephen used this set of china for special occasions while using both their Canton and Limoges china services for everyday meals and entertaining.

Rose Medallion Pattern

In the kitchen is the Walker and Pratt stove that was installed in the kitchen's ell circa 1880. The stove, which is encased in a brick wall and features a warming oven, two roasting ovens, and six burners, was used until Stephen Willard Phillips’ death in 1955. The icebox in the pantry was inherited by Anna as part of her aunt Anna Peabody’s estate and the pantry was designed around the unit which included installing a hatch door on the exterior of the house so that ice could be placed into the icebox without ever having to let the iceman into the house. It was recorded that Mrs. Phillips would sometimes order as much as 1,600 pounds of ice each month during the summer - that's a lot of ice!

Carriage House of Phillips House

In addition to all of the wonderful objects and furnishings in the house (more of which you can see here), there is a large Carriage House on the back of the property that was added to the propery by Captain Nathaniel West between 1820 and 1821. Today it is used to display the Phillips collection of vehicles including a five-glass rockaway which was the family's everyday carriage and a 1924 Pierce-Arrow touring car which was the first of two that were purchased by the Phillips family.

Completing their tour of the Stephen W. Phillips House, the only home on Chestnut Street that is regularly open to the public, Juli and Walt walked across the street to the Allen-Osgood-Huntington House, their final stop on the Christmas in Salem Historic Home Tour for 2011.

This Classic Federal Home built circa 1828-1833 is the tallest surviving 19th-century "triple house" in Salem, one of only two such houses remaining in the city. Construction of the house was begun by Pickering Dodge, a distinguised merchant with success in foreign commerce and whose portrait hangs in the Peabody Essex Museum, in 1828 and was completed in 1833 by his son-in-law, the noted horticulturist John Fiske Allen.

The current owners of the home began a restoration project over two years ago and have filled their home with antiques from both Salem and Boston as well as from Maryland where the homeowners both grew up.

Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

The beautiful Chinese wallpaper seen above in the dining room was hand-painted on silk and designed specifically for the room as part of the home's restoration while in the kitchen, visitors were able to view before-and-after photos of the how the room has evolved. Outdoors there was even a Christmas tree decorated for any birds that still happened to be in town for the holidays!

With just one more post to go on the stunningly beautiful Clarence S. Clark House - the front door of which appears above in the only picture in this whole post that I took! - this wraps up Part Two of the Christmas in Salem Historic House Tour for 2011. I do hope that you've enjoyed this abbreviated look at some of the beautiful homes in Salem's McIntire District and that perhaps just one or two photos might have inspired you to take the tour yourself when it's offered on the first weekend of December next year ... and the year after and the year after and ...!

Again, many thanks to my friend Juli for taking the photos for this post (more of which can be seen here) as well as filling me in on the things that I missed and would loved to have seen in person. Truth be told, I think she was quite happy to do it as she walks by many of these homes every day on her way to work and now she no longer has to be curious about what they look like on the inside!

Be sure to come back soon for my next post on the Clark House, an exquisite 1895 Colonial Revival home that was decorated entirely by the owner. If that doesn't put you in the Christmas spirit, I don't know what will!


  1. Juli did a fabulous job! And I feel like such a slacker as I have not and will not be doing a single bit of Christmas decorating.

    After seeing these beautiful homes all decked out in their Christmas finery, I suddenly feel the need to turn mine inside out and upside down and clean and decorate. But I won't! :)

  2. oh how I love brick homes!
    I want the library
    and the brick backed stove
    and the pink flowers
    and all the nutcrackers

    I'd like to take bits and bits of all these shots and build a dream

  3. Beautiful homes, beautifully decorated. My favorites are the top hat on one of the trees and the vintage toys.

  4. These houses are gorgeous! Love the decorations.

    My favorite interior is the Misses Pickering House, I think. It looks cozy.

    I also love the top hat atop the Christmas tree!


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