Old Town Hall

From Salem Links and Lore

Dating from 1816-17, Old Town Hall (or Market House) is the earliest surviving municipal structure in Salem. A Federal Style building, the Great Hall has been used as a public hall and contained Town offices until 1837. The first floor was designed as a public market. The building contains design elements attributed to Charles Bulfinch and Samuel McIntire. Saved from demolition in the 1930's by Salem preservation architect Philip Horton Smith, it underwent partial restoration in the 1970's.

The building was called Market House when it first was built, but later the name changed to Old Town Hall when it became a municipal building.

The building has historical associations with Salem's prominent Derby family. On this parcel of land between Essex and Front Street had been the site of Elias Derby's mansion. When they took it down, the Derby's offered the city the deed. The city built a combination market house and town hall on this location.

Presently, it is used as a public art space in conjunction with Artists Row in the adjacent Marketplace. The upstairs Great Hall is also used for dancing. Gordon College acting group History Alive uses it for their interactive show "Cry Innocent" about the witchcraft trials.

In 2011 the Salem Museum opened up to the public on the first floor of the Old Town Hall. They ask for a suggested donation of $3 to $5 as an entry fee.

The area around Old Town Hall has been used for Salem Farmer's Market since 2009 every Thursday through the summer months.

Salem Marketplace, adjacent to Old Town Hall, is a quaint brick market area between Derby and Front streets with shops, art galleries, outdoor dining, and evening entertainment. Artists' Row stalls are open from late May through October, days and hours vary by vendor.

Old Town Hall and Market House

Old Town Hall Marketplace.png

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Old Town Hall
  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Marketplace (Salem)
  • "1818's new market was in trouble" Salem Evening News, Aug. 2, 1999, p. A3
  • "Keeping up the downtown market tradition" Salem Evening News, Aug. 11, 1999, p. A3