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Hawthorne at Salem

Buildings & Houses

Government Buildings

Government Buildings in Salem: Introduction

Old Town Hall and Market House, 32 Derby Square between Essex Street Mall and Front Street, 1816
Old Town Hall and Market House, 32 Derby Square between Essex Street Mall and Front Street, 1816(courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
In addition to the Salem Custom House, which is treated separately, this section of the Website presents images and information on the government buildings in Salem listed below. In some cases the buildings are related to Nathaniel Hawthorne; in other cases buildings are included to give a sense of Hawthorne's world and also of the Salem a visitor would encounter today. All of these buildings also appear on the 1840 and/or modern map of Salem.
  • Essex County Courthouses, 32-36-42 Federal St 
     
  • Salem City Hall, 93 Washington St. 
     
  • Salem Jail and Sheriff's House, 50 St. Peter Street and Bridge 
     
  • Old Town Hall and Market, Derby Square, 32 Derby Square between Essex Street Mall and Front St. 
     
  • Old Custom House, 4-10 Central Street and Essex Street Mall

All of these buildings also appear on the 1840 map of Salem.

Images of Government Buildings in Salem

Essex County Courthouses, 32-36-42 Federal St. (1839-41; 1861-62; 1887-89; 1908-09; 1979-81)
Essex County Courthouses, 32-36-42 Federal St. (1839-41; 1861-62; 1887-89; 1908-09; 1979-81)
The granite building at the corner of Washington and Federal was constructed in 1839-41 by architect Richard Bond (1797-1861), also the architect of Salem City Hall in 1836-7, and is an excellent example of Greek Revival-style civic architecture. The large brick and brownstone courthouse building was constructed in 1861-62 in Italian Revival-style but remodeled considerably in 1887-1889. In 1908-09, another courthouse building was erected to house the registry of deeds, the probate court, and administrative offices. This granite structure, with its six-column Greek Ionic portico, is a superb example of Neoclassical Revival architecture.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Salem City Hall, 93 Washington St., Salem, MA
Salem City Hall, 93 Washington St., Salem, MA
This Greek Revival building was constructed in 1836-7 with funds from the U.S. Treasury surplus. Its facade is granite, but the other walls are brick. The gilded American eagle on the roof is a copy of the original by Samuel McIntire that once was on the wooden gateway (taken down in 1850) at the entrance to Salem Common.  (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
View standing in front of City Hall (93 Washington Street) looking up Washington Street toward Federal Street.
View standing in front of City Hall (93 Washington Street) looking up Washington Street toward Federal Street.
 (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
Salem Jail (County of Essex), 50 St. Peter St. and Bridge (1811; 1884-5)and Jailer's (Sheriff's House), 48 St. Peter St.
Salem Jail (County of Essex), 50 St. Peter St. and Bridge (1811; 1884-5)and Jailer's (Sheriff's House), 48 St. Peter St.
Up until 1991 this was still a functioning jail. The first section of the building was erected in 1811-1913 and replaced an older jail nearby. The jail was enlarged and updated in 1884-1885. The two octagonal cupolas were added at this time. The jail is now owned by the city and is being considered for a variety of possible commercial uses.  (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Old Town Hall and Market House, 32 Derby Square between Essex Street Mall and Front Street, 1816
Old Town Hall and Market House, 32 Derby Square between Essex Street Mall and Front Street, 1816 
This brick Town Hall was built by Joshua Upham, perhaps using plans by Charles Bulfinch. The building replaced a handsome Adamesque Federal mansion built between 1795 and 1799 for Salem merchant, Elias Hasket Derby using plans by Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844) and Samuel McIntire (1757-1811). E.H. Derby's son, E.H. Derby, Jr. had the mansion razed in 1815 because it was too expensive to maintain. In 1816 the lower floor was a market, and in 1817 the upper floor was first used when President James Monroe visited Salem in July of that year. The Salem City Hall was built in 1836-37, replacing the Old Town Hall as the seat of local government. Today the Salem Chamber of Commerce has its offices on the first floor of Old Town Hall. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Old Custom House, called The Central Building in Hawthorne's time, 4-10 Central Street and Essex Street Mall
Old Custom House, called The Central Building in Hawthorne's time, 4-10 Central Street and Essex Street Mall
This was originally built in 1805 for William S. Gray and Benjamin H. Hathorne for stores. Benjamin Hathorne was the son of Colonel John Hathorne, Nathaniel's father's first cousin. From 1805-07, the U.S. Custom Service had offices in this building and again in 1813-19. The arched windows on the first floor were added druing the restoration of the building during Salem's urban renewal in 1975-76. (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)