McIntire Historic District

Salem City, Essex County, MA

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Home in the McIntire Historic District

McIntire Historic District [†]

Salem's Samuel McIntire was one of the earliest and most influential architects in the United States. During the city's Golden Age of Commerce, he designed and oversaw the construction of houses for some of Salem's wealthiest merchant families. McIntire combined elements from European architec- tural pattern books with a traditional New England aesthetic to create a surpassingly beautiful version of the Federal style. He is credited with creating the "look" of Salem through his use of large square buildings. McIntire also created exquisite carvings for interior woodwork, furniture and ships. He was commissioned by wealthy families, including the Derby family of Salem, to decorate furniture, man- telpieces, doorways and windows. His carvings were in such demand that after 1790 McIntire made his living primarily as an ornamental woodcarver for buildings and furniture.

Upon his death in 1811, Reverend Bentley of Salem noted that McIntire "enriched his native town ... and indeed all the improvements of Salem for nearly thirty years past have been under his eye." McIntire is buried in Salem's Charter Street Cem- etery, where his epitaph reads, "He was distinguished for Genius in Architecture, Sculpture, and Musick; Modest and sweet Man- ners rendered him pleasing; Industry and Integrity respectable."

In 1981, the City of Salem named its largest historic district after Samuel McIntire. Encompassing Broad, Chestnut, Essex, Federal and connecting streets, the district showcases four centuries of architectural styles, from the mid-17th century through the early 20th century. Several of McIntire's distinctive buildings are on the one-mile trail (about one hour's walk). The trail is marked on posts and sidewalk plaques by one of McIntire's favorite designs—a sheaf of wheat, symbolizing the prosperity of Salem and the new United States.

First Period (1630–1730)
A typical First Period house is one room deep with a promi- nent central chimney; a front overhang, called a jetty; and a rear lean-to. The interior timber framing is usually visible, and the exterior has unpainted clapboards, minimal deco- ration, steeply pitched roofs with numerous gables, and diamond-paned windows.

Georgian (1725–1780)
The Georgian style was the most popular architectural style in America for most of the 18th century. Georgian houses in Salem are usually two and a half stories high and have gambrel (or barnlike) roofs with dormer windows.

Federal (1780–1825)
Popular in the early decades of the new United States, Fed- eral buildings are generally three-story square structures featuring large windows, classically inspired entrances, and roofs with a shallow pitch and railings around the top. 19th-Century revival styles popular in salem.

Greek Revival (ca.1830–1850)
Based on Greek and Roman temples; connected America with the ancient democracies.

Gothic Revival (ca.1840–1870)
Marked by asymmetry, peaked roofs and "ginger- bread" trim; may have reflected increasing mechani- zation in the building industry.

Italianate Revival (ca.1860–1890)
Inspired by the informal forms of Italian farmhouses, complete with large roof brackets, rounded windows and cupolas.

Colonial Revival (ca.1870–1945)
Nostalgically reflected America's Colonial past and in- cluded exaggerated antique styles in its architecture.

† Peabody Essex Museum, McItire Historic District: Architectural Walking Trail, 2007-2008,, accessed February, 2024.

Street Names
Broad Street • Cambridge Street • Chestnut Street • Essex Street

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