The Joshua Ward House, 148 Washington Street, Salem, MA
Built in 1784 by prominent Salem merchant Joshua Ward, who lived in the mansion until 1823. (He died in 1825.)
Robert (Bob) Murphy, owner of the Joshua Ward House and Higginson Book Co., met us at the front door with a map of how things used to be...
Front Street (straight ahead) was on the waterfront. Joshua Ward's ships docked to the right, visible from the mansion.
There were large chestnut trees (like these) in front of the house in 1789 when George Washington visited. This front yard was re-created in the 1978-80 restoration, and new trees planted. (Commercial buildings that had hidden the house for generations were demolished and used as fill to rebuilt the terrace for the front lawn.)
The street from left was called Court Street (renamed later to Washington St.) An older house on this location was owned by the family of George Corwin (or Curwin), notorious as the Sheriff who hung the witch victims (1692). He died in 1696. A previous owner (1636-1641) was Hugh Peter (or Peters), a Salem minister later beheaded in London.
Copy of an 1820 map of Salem surveyed by Jonathan P. Saunders
Bob pointed out the new bridge (built in 1805) that Joshua Ward had opposed. It blocked large ships from entering the docks near his house (marked with penciled X in this map copy). Eventually that inner harbor was filled in and a railroad station built on the fill. (It, too, is now gone).
Nancy, Bruce, and Emily listening to Bob Murphy's stories. Beyond them would have been water & ships (in Joshua Ward's day) or a huge train station (in my childhood) -- now Dunkin Donuts, parking lots, and a rotary.
It is remarkable that this hand-hewn stairway by craftsman Samuel McIntire has survived intact.
Bob showed us old photos of the house, which was set back behind other buildings.
Joshua Ward dining room
This south-east room (to left of main entrance) was once the dining room. An inventory of its furnishings (1825) listed dining tables and chairs. The "Ward" dining tables I've inherited may have come from here (or from the home of Joshua Ward, Jr., elsewhere in Salem). Portrait on mantel is Nathaniel Hawthorne (Hathorne).
South west room. Fireplace mantel by Samuel McIntire -- his woodcarving still beautiful even under 200 years of paint.
View out the door of 148 Washington St, Salem. May 2009.
Above the front door on second floor, on our way to the bedroom (to left) that George Washington slept in (1879).
Bob intends to restore this bedroom to the way it looked when George Washington was a guest here. He's working on the window shutters.
Bruce, who restores old buildings for the US Forest Service, was especially interested in the woodworking.
Old hinges have been salvaged and will be re-used.
The fireplace in George Washington's bedroom
Bob has learned to make replacement shutters, as needed.
The Higginson Book Company occupies most of the rooms in the house. I noted with interest the contrast of high-tech commerce (computers in many rooms; box here marked E-Bay) vs. antique books and maps.
Another interesting side-story is this movie prop. The candle was melted in a microwave... Some folks believe this house is haunted; several movies have been made here.
Familiar looking chairs (similar, but not identical, to some chairs owned in our family)
Up to another floor... more books...
On the 3rd floor, ceilings are lower, but still high by modern standards.
Looking back toward the Joshua Ward House, at end.
Continuing on Front Street towards the cemetery (note the red line for tourists painted on sidewalk, ahead right).
On left is the back of Peabody Essex Museum, including a very old Chinese house that was moved from China and rebuilt here in 2003! We decided to return the next day to tour that house and museum. See separate album.
Bob continued to lead us on an engaging tour of Salem's past. He wanted to show us the tombstones for Ward ancestors.
First, a stone for the famous architect and craftsman Samuel McIntire, who had been young (in his 20's) when he worked on the woodwork inside the Ward mansion.
Stones for the Ward family are ahead, left of the tree.
"Here lyes ye body of Elizabeth Wife of Miles Ward Jun[ior] died ... 1737 in her 28th year."
Also, Elizabeth ... Ebenezer... Also Sarah dau[ghter]... Abigail.
Bruce and Emily reading the Nathaneal Ward stone. He died young, age 23.