Originally part of Salem, the area we now know as Beverly, was first colonized in 1626 by Roger Conant who came down from Gloucester, Massachusetts. They decided to settle in what was then called Naumkeag, part of the Agawam Native Territory. Two years later, a new wave of English colonists arrived, led by John Endicott, who was sent by the Massachusetts Bay Company to govern the tiny settlement, replacing Conant. In 1635, a few settlers petitioned the town of Salem for a land grant on the other side of the river. This grant was approved and each man was allotted 200 acres of farmland, totaling 1000 acres in all. These men and their families soon settled the new region, building homesteads in what eventually became Beverly. The town’s population grew slightly until after the Revolutionary War, when Beverly became an important seaport, with vessels trading all over the world. In 1839, the railroad arrived in Beverly, which brought more people and allowed parts of town to develop into a summer colony for wealthy families to construct large summer estates on the waterfront.
This stunning brick building, now the Beverly Town Hall, was built in 1783 for Andrew Cabot (1750-1791). Cabot was a merchant who owned many ships, trading between the colonies, Caribbean and Europe. After Cabot’s death at the age of 41, the mansion was purchased by Israel Thorndike, merchant and privateer who made his fortune during and soon after the Revolutionary War by being a legal pirate, looting British ships along the coast and in the Indies, selling the goods back in Massachusetts. After his death, the home was acquired by the town for use as a town hall, opening as such in 1841. It has operated as the Beverly Town Hall for almost 200 years. The home originally featured a hipped roof, which was altered into a mansard roof in the 1870s, and was eventually removed for a flat roof.