The same day that shortsighted city planners allowed New York’s Beaux-Arts style Penn Station to be demolished, the front page of the New York Times told of the impending demolition of more than 100 buildings in historic Salem, Massachusetts.
From the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, in this episode of the PEMcast, we explore how almost exactly 50 years ago, Salem was saved from the wrecking ball thanks to one woman and her mighty pen. It’s the first in a series of episodes we’re producing about historic buildings around the world and the stories they tell. Whether a palatial estate or a ramshackle hut, historic buildings usually have a good story. The Peabody Essex Museum preserves 22 historic houses around Salem that tell stories of America’s early history.
Today, however, we tell just one story of Salem, taking you to October 13, 1965 with the headline Foes Fear Plans Will Mar Old New England Heritage.
Today, Salem homes are covered in snippets of stories on plaques from Historic Salem, Inc.
Listen to more about the demolition of historic Penn Station on this 2015 episode of the 99 % Invisible podcast. For more on Ada Louise Huxtable’s impact on American architectural preservation, see this Hyperallergic piece, written after her death in 2013, and in this piece in the Salem News.
October 15th marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The 52-page act, available as a downloadable PDF, begins with ”The Congress finds and declares that the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage”
Our summer-long social media campaign #HistoricHouseCrush is good fun! If you’ve just taken a great photo of a historic place — maybe on PEM’s campus or somewhere else in the world — be sure to tag it with historichousecrush on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, so the historic house crusher community can enjoy it. (Our accounts are here: Instagram, Twitter (@peabodyessex) and Facebook.)
Special thanks to Elizabeth Padjen and Emily Udy for talking with us. Lisa Kosan consulted on our script for this episode. Producers for the PEMcast are Chip Van Dyke, Dinah Cardin, Whitney Van Dyke and Caryn Boehm. Corbett Sparks is our audio engineer.