Hamilton Hall

From Salem Links and Lore
  • Located at 9 Chestnut Street, this famous building designed by Samuel McIntire, was built in 1805 and named in honor of Alexander Hamilton (first secretary of the treasury), who had visited Salem, where he had many admirers. In 1971, it was named a Registered National Historic Landmark for its architectural and historic significance.
  • The hall was built by wealthy Federalist merchants who wanted a place for dances and social gatherings after growing tensions with the Republicans resulted in the two groups refusing to share an assembly hall.
  • The hall's upstairs ballroom, where tall gilt-framed mirrors (imported from Russia) reflect the arched windows, makes the hall notable. The ballroom also has a wooden floor set upon springs, which cushions the movements of the dancers. Only a few of these type of floors remain intact in the country.
  • The hall was used for many years by dance teachers, drawing teachers as far away as Boston such as Lorenzo Papanti, Massachusett's most important dancing master of the 19th century. Henry O. Upton was another popular Salem dance teacher. Harriet James was another dance teacher in 1940's to the 1970's.
  • The regular dancing classes, primarily for the children of Salem’s wealthy elite, were a precursor to the Salem Assemblies and ultimately led to the annual presentation of the town’s debutantes to Society.
  • Two other distinct features are the musician's balcony and on the first floor, a rare Rumford Roaster, which in the early 1800's was the most up-to-date means of cooking for large numbers. John Remond was a popular caterer who used the first floor on the building.
  • Some of the other activities in the hall in the early years were: "parties, fairs, plays and concerts were held in the hall and the supper room; stores, schools, gift shops, music and dancing lessons in the rooms below. Remond lived and reigned for over fifty years in his apartments and brought up a family there" according to Marie Fabens in her book Hamilton Hall.
  • Old Salem Corner Studio also used Hamilton Hall as its home.
  • Another well-known local caterer was Edward P.Cassell. He was the second African-American resident to cater to the crowds at Hamilton Hall, succeeding John Remond.
  • Hamilton Hall has maintained its original use as gathering place for dances, assemblies and community events. A group called the Ladies Committee of Hamilton Hall has sponsored lectures on a variety of current events and foreign affairs since 1946. These are very well attended.
  • Proceeds from the lecture series help to fund upkeep and renovation of this historic hall. Interior work was done in 1920 and 1948. In 1988, bricks were re-pointed and windows repaired.
  • Hamilton Hall became a non-profit organization in 1985.
  • In 2015 Hamilton Hall began a process of replacing the centuries-old McIntire carved wooden eagle on the outside of the building. They moved the original repaired one inside and had a fiberglass resin replacement created and applied to the outside of the building in the summer of 2015.
  • An historic marker was erected in front of Hamilton Hall honoring the legacy of Salem activists, the Remond Family. It was initiated by the group Suffrage100MA which placed five new markers throughout the state on the National Votes for Women Trail. It was unveiled on June 23rd, 2022.

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Hamilton Hall
  • "After 200 years, Hamilton Hall mission remains the same" Salem Evening News, April 30, 2005.
  • "A Hall with a History" Salem Evening News, Nov. 19, 1992. p. 11
  • "Hamilton Hall and Pingree House - National Landmarks" Salem Evening News, Apr. 14, 1971. p. 18
  • "Hamilton Hall bicentennial recalls era of lavish parties, presidential visits", Salem News, Mar.21, 2005
  • "Hamilton Hall Lecture series flourishes in 65th year" Salem News, Nov. 18, 2010, p.11
  • "Eagle-eyed lookalike. Centuries old wooden eagle replaced with a sturdy stand-in." Salem News, July 16, 2015, p. 1
  • "The eagle has landed. Painstaking efforts taken to restore McIntire's carved eagle. Historic McIntire eagle finds a new home indoors" Salem News, Sept. 28, 2015, p. 1
  • "Honoring the legacy of activism" Salem News, July 14, 2022, p. ?