Mysteries of the Museum
East India Marine Hall
161 Essex Street
Built in 1825. Stephen White was the current president of the Salem East India Marine Society Incorporated them as a LLC and had his mason William Roberts build it. The Salem East India Marine Society was founded in 1799 by supercargoes and ship captains who have rounded the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The hall would be built across from Stephen White’s boyhood home and counting house. Benjamin Hodges was the society’s first president as well as master of the Essex Lodge. The museum was incorporated in 1801 to house objects gathered by their members from their sea voyages to create a museum of curiosities. Upon the East India Marine Hall’s opening John Quincy Adams presided over banquet. On the first floor was Stephen White’s Asiatic Bank, the post office, and Stephen White’s the Oriental Insurance Company. In 1867 the hall was refitted by donations from George Peabody who was the London banker in business with J.P. Morgan’s father.
Stephen White would murder his uncle under his blessings and blame the murder on the sons of two business partners that insulted his uncle. Stephen would then go on to see the murder of President Harrison after he denied to create the Third Bank of the United States. Only to die 3 days later himself. In 1867 the museum was bailed out by another gentleman who wanted to see the Third Bank of the United States created, George Peabody. He had previously sold several shares to the Rothschilds, Brown Brothers, and the Bank of England in the Second Bank of the United States that Jackson destroyed. In response to Jackson not renewing the charter Peabody worked with Rothschild to create the 1837 Panic.
The Essex Historical Institute, The Essex Natural History Museum, East India Marine Museum, and the Peabody Academy of Science have been combined to make the Peabody Essex Museum. The hall has been added onto from 1885 to 2000 on various sides. In 2013 it saw another retrofit. The museum now holds collections of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Oceanic, Indian, and Native American art along with collections of portraits, furniture, and maritime history from Essex County. For over 300 years this society has been collecting things from around the world. They have vaults in basements and subbasements under the East India Marine Hall and the Armory. I do not believe we will ever see the true extant of their collections. What fabulous items have they smuggled through the tunnels from the sea? There is rumors they have the Romanov crown jewels, Blackbeard’s skull, religious artifacts, and magical items from around the world are stored in their vaults. Soon they will be opening a tunnel from the Essex Institute to the Armory once more to move items through.
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