Salem Tunnel Report~ Benjamin Webb House

Have a Drink on Me and a Powder for the Morning…

Benjamin Webb Jr. was a tavern keeper and Apothecary. He had an apothecary on Herbert and Essex Streets. His tavern was on the site of the Salem Five Bank on Essex Street. When William Gray bought the property, he tore down the tavern and it opened in a new location where the Bowker Block is now used as the Peabody Essex Museum’s offices on the corner of Liberty and Essex Streets. His son Jonathan continued the tavern in the new location. It was originally called the King’s Arm and after the Revolutionary War, it became the Sun Tavern. It was in this tavern that Richard Crowninshield Sr. insulted Joseph White upon their mutual loss of 3 ship in Naples at the removal of the Embargo Act he favored; this would cost his son his life in an elaborate murder plot implicating his son Richard in the murder of Joseph White for revenge of this insult. Richard Crowninshield Jr. was found hanging in his cell from a low window with his knees almost touching the ground, the jailers slit his throat to see if he was alive, and he died from exsanguination. This murder is the murder behind the Parker Brothers Clue.

His home here was at 98-100 Bridge Street. Later he would own the Sage-Webb-Wilkins House across from Daniels Street at 52 Essex Street. Both homes are connected to tunnels.

He was a member of the Salem Common Improvement Fund which disguised the tunnel project behind a large public work. They filled in 5 ponds and a river in the Common to hide tunnel dirt. He also was an incorporator with many of subscribers in the Merchant Bank and the Salem Savings Bank. John Hodges, also a subscriber, shared many ships with him and George Hodges marries his daughter Elizabeth. George Hodges was surveyor of the port of Salem from 1809 to 1817. The Custom House where he worked also has tunnels leading from it. The Hodges were the founders of the East India Marine Society who founded the Peabody Essex Museum. Every location the museum was in was connected to the tunnels as well.

Benjamin was a fireman who drove the engine Reliance which was housed at the corner of Hardy and Derby Streets.  His grandfather John Bray and his uncle Daniel Bray were also subscribers. The father was a shoemaker with his shop on Hardy opposite Essex Street. Bray was a consultant to the Salem Savings Bank.

Benjamin was connected in many ways…

Take a look at the tunnels:

You can see the Basement entrance from outside. At the time when the house was built, they had no use for an external entrance. These come later by taking the roof off the tunnel and putting a staircase to block the tunnel from entering the house. The idea was to use a hole in the foundation that exists already. You can see the long hall leading from that entrance which was part of the tunnel. The tunnel might have actually turned to the right across the back of the house also.

There was another entrance through the floor of what could have later been used as a place to store coal. The house was built prior to coal furnaces. In fact, only smugglers had full basement in Salem. You only needed a full basement after boilers were made. Also, later furnaces would utilize spots the tunnel was connected to. You can see the difference in brick between this spot and the rest of the foundation.

Keep coming back to find more tunnels in Salem and how this all shaped American history!

Also, read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and Sub Rosa to get all the dirt that is under the streets of Salem available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com; and in Salem at Remeber Salem, Jolie Tea, The Witch House, and Artemesia Botanicals.

Salem Tunnel Report~Thomas Brown House

Still, need to look this gentleman up, but I got to go into the basement and open the trapdoor and take a flexible camera and look at the roof of this tunnel. There were metal strapping holding up the brick floor in the roof of the tunnel. Further in there where mysterious gears; More to come later.

Above you can see the basement entrance converted from an old tunnel. These entrances were not historical and just utilized the entrance the tunnel used instead of poking a new hole in the foundation. For years I have been looking at elaborate sump holes in basements that were all brick lined and finished, this is the first one that proved there were tunnel entrances. You seen pictures of that as well above

For now check out Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City which is in its third edition! Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and your local booksellers. In Salem, it is available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, The Witch House, and Artemesia Botanaicals.

I am Henry Clay

I was one of the three most powerful senators, but you don’t remember me

I first came to Salem to advise a rope maker on the advantages of hemp. Once in town I met John Quincy Adams and became his Secretary of State. Before that we settled the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 that was created in response for the First Bank of the United States loosing its charter which gave 70% of our treasury to the English. I also met Daniel Webster who was one of the Triumphant of senators with me. We plotted and got away with assassinating 3 presidents trying to make the third national bank after Jackson ended the Second National Bank of the United States in 1836 for giving 70% of our treasury to the English.

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. Also to learn more stories like this first hand, book a tour with the Salem Smugglers’ Tour!

Salem House Press
http://www.salemhousepress.com

Good Harbor Beach: Inspiration for a New Story

More Treasures of Rt # 127

Good Harbor Beach Gloucester MA

So what does an illustrator see when he comes across this; a home owned by a recluse ship captain who meet two kids that he introduces to a fat whale he got addicted to Mexican food. A whale whose belly is so big now it drags on the ground and when he farts at the end of the story he creates the tidal river you see in the photo above. Yes, inspiration and what results can be a little warped…

I admit that.

So this is Good Harbor Beach. It is just off of Rt # 127 in Gloucester. It is my favorite wrong turn. See Rt # 127 takes a hard left here without a stop sign, I used to always miss the turn and end up on the beach. Now I purposely miss the turn.

Besides the cool house, the beach is amazing because of this tidal river and how far out the beach goes during low tide. Also the next beach north, Long Beach, the tide runs right to left like a stone skipping as the surf breaks.

So go check them out one day; for now just check out these photos:

Check out my other illustrated books at Salem House Press.

Cheers,
Chris

The Game Clue and Salem MA

I Never Missed a Day on the Bench Till..

Isaac Parker painting

I was the Chief Justice of Massachusetts and one of the original High Federalist. I died 3 days after I said I never felt better and never missed a day on the bench. I was to preside over the murder case that inspired the American version of Clue by Parker Brothers. The murder happened 3 months earlier in 1830 and 3 days after Daniel Webster supposedly came to Salem to prosecute the case. Previously I was the judge accusing him of been a traitor in the 1812 War. The Parker Brothers were the grandson of my cousin William Parker.

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. Also to learn more stories like this first hand, book a tour with the Salem Smugglers’ Tour!

Salem House Press
http://www.salemhousepress.com

SUPERIOR COURT JUSTICE JOSEPH STORY

THE GREAT INTERPRETER OF THE CONSTITUTION…

Joseph Story Smuggler in Salem MA

The man who shaped the Constitution, Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. Brother-in-law to Stephen White. He is the most responsible for the interpretation of the Constitution we follow.

This man has created the interpretations of the U.S. Constitution we still follow today. Along with his brother-in-law Stephen White who controlled him, they defended the Second Bank of the United States from all comers until President Jackson did not renew the bank’s charter. In 1811 Joseph Story, Stephen White, Joseph “Jr.” White, Joseph White, Senator Nathaniel Silsbee, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Crowninshield, and opium dealer Thomas Perkins all received new mansions from agents of Baring Brothers Bank to restore a new national bank after the First National Bank of the United States lost its charter for being controlled by the Bank of England.

After the War of 1812, to settle America’s war debts the Second Bank of the United States was chartered which ended up being controlled by the Bank of England. All of these men became directors in the Second Bank of the United States. Many of their houses are on the Salem Common and are connected together by tunnels. I made my fortune from the tunnels attached to my house!

To find out more book a tour on the Salem Smugglers’ Tour of the historic Salem Common.
More Than Witches!

Charles Bulfinch’s Almshouse in Salem MA

The Architect of Washington DC Built this and Boston…


Poor House Salem MA

The City Almshouse (or Poor Farm) which stood on Collins Cove, on present day Memorial Drive, for over 140 years, was built in 1816 from plans by Charles Bulfinch. There had been other almshouses in Salem in earlier times, one at the corner of Summer and Broad Streets, and one at the northeast corner of Salem Common. Bulfinch was notorious for connecting tunnels to his buildings. Did this one have access to the 3 miles of tunnels in town? I wonder if they could of ran a brothel out of the women’s wing?

During its original building there is a story about a mystery. Several foundations were laid, but they all cracked, until…They realized that heat was escaping from the volcano in the cove which was cracking the foundation. Once they put in proper ventilation for the heat vents the problem was solved. The capstone to the volcano stands now on top of Eagle Hill in Salem Woods.

Also the threat of living in this building was enough to end the Witchcraft Hysteria of 1811. When the master of the house visited an indigent woman on Northey Street, who had gathered a thousand people to her door after her complaints of suffering fits from a witch in Boston, and ended the hysteria by offering the woman the chance to work in the poor house or leave town; she left town. This was the same year they closed down the old Witch Gaol from the first hysteria and broke ground for the new jail; I assume they expected a larger turn out this time…

This almshouse was adjacent to the town farms, allowing able-bodied residents to work on the farm to offset their maintenance. The building was a five-story brick residence overlooking Collins Cove and could house 100 residents.The number of residents grew from 70 in the 1870’s to 146 by 1883. In 1884, a second building was built next to the almshouse to serve as a hospital for contagious diseases and for the mentally ill. The hospital was known under many names, such as “contagious hospital”, “insane hospital” and “pesthouse”.  The adjacent almshouse was razed in 1954.

In the early 1980’s, developers of a condominium complex inadvertently reactivated an unsolved mystery when they discovered 5 headstones on the property, probably from early residents of the almshouse or hospital. Who these unfortunates were is still not known.

An article from Lynn Sunday Post quotes Frank Remon, a former harbor master saying that there were a number of persons buried on the old city hospital land and that it was known as “Hospital Burying Ground.”

 

Poor Farm on Collins Cove Salem MA10202476441884898

 

Mr-Zac-Looking-Down-With-Hat

 

~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

What Lies Below in Salem

Tales from Salem’s Underground
(Reprint from the Salem Gazette)

Salem Secret Underground Front Page of Salem Gazette

“These homes were built by respected architects – names like McIntire and Bulfinch. They were the homes and businesses of senators and Supreme Court justices,” said Dowgin. “And in the basements and under the fireplaces, many of them had smuggling tunnels.”

Dowgin, a local historian, has been primarily known for his illustrated children’s books “A Walk Through Salem” and “A Walk Under Salem,” which introduce readers to Salem history in a whimsical way. But his latest book is something different. “Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City” shows a new side to the famous merchants and captains of industry, one tinged with tax evasion, thievery and even murder.

“The practice of building smuggling tunnels probably dated back to the earliest days of Salem being used as a port,” said Dowgin. “But it really became a common occurrence in the early days of the United States.”

During the Revolutionary War, many shipping magnates in port cities all up and down the East Coast turned to privateering, amassing huge fortunes in wealth captured from British vessels. After the war, the fledgling republic tried to recapture some of that wealth, in the form of steep import duties and other taxes.

“We’d just had an expensive war, we were trying to get our country started, and everyone wanted the party they were opposed to shoulder the brunt of the tax burden,” Dowgin said. “In many ports, people were losing money, but Salem just kept getting richer and richer.”

Part of the reason was that many of the goods that entered Salem were immediately spirited into a complex tunnel network that kept them away from the prying eyes of customs agents. These tunnels extended far into the city, but began practically at Salem wharf itself. As an example, look at the 1762 Derby House, part of the Salem Maritime Historic Site.

 

Derby_House

“When Richard Derby built the Derby House for his son, Elias Hasket Derby and his new wife, Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby, it was the subject of much speculation in town,” Dowgin said. “In the late 18th century, houses weren’t commonly made of brick, because there was a superstition that brick houses were unhealthy. Then there was the question of why so many bricks were needed; about three times as many as you’d need for a house of that size.”

In reality, Dowgin said, the bricks were being used to construct a tunnel in the basement. Today, the entrance to the tunnel is slightly above grade, and visitors can see the bricked-in arch.

“After the Derby House, the tunnel builders got smarter,” Dowgin said. “They realized that, if they built two brick houses at a time at a fixed distance apart, no one could guess how many bricks were supposed to be there.”

To find out more about the tunnels of Salem watch Chris Dowgin on Kitchen Expeditions on the Travel Channel premiere episode. Chris will be giving a tour to Robert Irvine of the tunnels that used to smuggle duty free cinnamon. Check out the show and then buy your own copy of Salem Secret Underground:The HIstory of the Tunnels in the City.

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

Harry Houdini in Salem MA

Strange Tales from the Witch City

houdini

Harry Houdini, (Mar.24,1874-Oct. 31, 1926) the famous escape artist, visited Salem in 1906.

His given name was Erich Weiss. His background was Hungarian and he immigrated with his family to the U.S. at the age of four.

In three packed shows at the Salem Theater, Houdini escaped from a large secured wooden box, and a strapped locked barrel. He also escaped from inside a police cell at the Salem Police Station.

Houdini died (on Halloween) of a ruptured appendix caused by blows from an overzealous fan. When dying, he made his wife promise to have an annual seance on the anniversary on his death. His wife did this for 10 years. In 1990 a group of organizers in Salem held a seance on Halloween to call Houdini back. Houdini forgot to attend the event at the Hawthorne Hotel…

10202482737162276Salem Theater Salem MA

Mr_Zac_Smiling_in_Hat_opt

~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.