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…
Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.
Location of the Hawthorne Hotel. This is the Franklin Building which was originally called the Archer Block and later Wakefield Place. The Parker Brothers had their first toy store in this building. The drug dealer Thomas Perkins gave the property to the Salem Marine Society in his will. After suffering 6 fires the Salem Marine Society sold it to Frank Poor to build his hotel for his Sylvania business clients. They had one condition, they get to keep their clubhouse on the roof.
Enjoy reading over a cup of tea at Jolie Tea in Salem, MA. They are the first shop to sell these ARCs. What is even more amazing than their 200+ collection of fine teas, is that the building they are in is connected to the tunnels of Salem. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Crowninshield had his Merchant Bank in the building. He also was one of many politicians from Salem who was a director of the Second Bank of the United States Boston Branch. Crowninshield was one of many in Salem in 1811 that was bribed by the British to work to create the bank which would sell 70% of its shares to the British after the War of 1812. Across the Common you can also see Senator Nathaniel Silsbee’s house who also was bribed and became a director in the bank. In this building Sophia Peabody had lived for a period of time when Nathaniel Hawthorne lived down the street. Hawthorne’s uncle had a stagecoach company with offices in the building or next door.
As rich as the tea at Jolie is the history connected to the building. Looking over your tea cup you can see through the window the Salem Common that was developed to hide massive amounts of tunnel dirt in. It is the same location the first National Guard unit was formed on. Their descendants dug the tunnels and hid the dirt. Just to the left is the historic Hawthorne Hotel. On that property was originally the Franklin Building owned by Thomas Perkins.
Perkins had paid Charles Bulfinch to build the Bunker Hill Monument, Mass General Hospital, Perkins School for the Blind, and India Wharf. Bulfinch was the one who designed the homes connected to the tunnels in Salem and Boston and the idea of hiding tunnel dirt in rivers, ponds, and marshland. Bulfinch would be the one who built all of the tunnels in Washington D.C. Perkins is the drug dealer who started the Forbes family off to fortune by selling opium to China. His empire was sold to Sturgis Russell who’s cousin founded Skull & Bones. William Russell will purchase property off Perkins in New Haven, Conn. to build the crypt on.
Also the window seat looks out upon the parking lot which at one time was the location of the Bently-Crowninshield House featured in H.P. Lovecraft’s Thing on the Doorstep. The story details Daniel Upton’s account of the tragedy that befell Edward Derby. Edward Derby marries a woman who becomes possessed by her dead evil father who in time possess Derby’s body after he was pushed into his wife’s body when he was in Arkham Asylum. Left for dead the wife’s body limps to Upton’s doorstep informing him that it was in fact Derby who inhabits his wife’s decaying body as he becomes the thing on the doorstep. Arkham Asylum is the same asylum that the Batman universe uses. The Bently-Crowninshield House has since been removed to in front of the Hawthorne.
Now the window behind you over looks the holy parking lot. Once the location of a Jewish temple. So if you are ever chased by any of Salem’s vampires. A variety called psychic vampires. The type of person who can speak at you for an hour and drain your soul and time away. If you are ever confronted in Salem, MA, it is good to know where the consecrated land is…
Below are images of Benjamin Crowninshield, Thomas Perkins, Jolie Tea Building, Merchant Bank notes, and the tunnels….
So head over to Jolie Tea and experience some history from your window seat over one of the 200+ teas they offer. They also sell Howqua Tea named after the man that Perkins made the wealthiest man in the world by selling his opium to. Your welcome to read a store copy of Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City or its sequel Sub Rosa while at Jolie or buy a copy to bring home with you! They are both filled with the story of the tunnels in Salem and how her smugglers’ shaped American history…
Thomas Perkins the founder of Mass. General Hospital, Perkins School for the Blind, the Perkins Library had a guilty conscious. He was a drug dealing slave trader. When Opium was outlawed in China he thought it was a good move. He felt the competition would shrink under fear of the law allowing him to almost create a monopoly on its sale. One of the other tricks Perkins did to keep his reputation untarnished, was to allow his nephews to run the company in name only. Some of these nephews Thomas Cushing and John Murray Forbes. The link between drugs, big business, and politics with Yale alumnus start from this pair. Even though we can not say Perkins was a bonesman, but we can say that their crypt is built on his property. Plus Sturgis Russell bought his drug empire and kept his nephews employed. Through Sturgis’ cousin William Russell Perkins’ property in New Haven, Connecticut would be bought by Skulls & Bones. Russell would build their infamous crypt on his property.
Some famous politicians who went to Yale sit on both sides of our political system. Alumnus include the Clintons, the Bushs, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfield, and John Forbes Kerry. Kerry is a descendant of Thomas H. Perkins. Perkins was not a member of Skulls and Bones but he was a member of the secret society called the Salem Marine Society which still has their club house on the roof of the Hawthorne Hotel. As you guessed, Perkins was on of the many using the tunnels of Salem.