There is just something about old Georgian homes built before the Revolution that always make me so happy… This home in Beverly is one of them! The home was built around 1715 for Reverend John Chipman (1691-1775), the first pastor of the Second Church of Beverly. Historians note that Rev. Chipman actually purchased the land complete with a dwelling in 1715 which dates to before 1695, and was probably built by Exercise Conant, son of early Cape Ann settler Roger Conant. According to the interior framing, the rear two-story ell was the original house, which was added onto with a five-bay Georgian house by Chipman, to showcase his stature in his new parish. The house has a gorgeous central doorway with fluted pilasters and a broken-arch pediment with pineapple finial in the center. Fun fact: The pineapple in the Georgian-era was a symbol of wealth and prestige. By the Georgian era, the first pineapples were being cultivated in Britain. The efforts it took to produce meant that by the time a fruit bloomed, it was valued at roughly £5,000 today. Concerned that eating such high-value fruit was a waste, owners opted to display pineapples as dinnertime ornaments, passing them from party to party until they rotted. The home in Beverly is commonly known as the Exercise Conant House, but is best represented as Reverend Chipman’s home.
In the 17th century, present-day Beverly was still a part of Salem and those who lived on the “Bass River side” of town found it difficult to attend church in Salem proper. As crossing by boat or of travel by land was tough on the residents here, paired with the fact the increase of population in this part of town, it was justified that a new church should be erected here. The first church in Beverly was erected in 1656, likely with mud and log walls with a thatch roof. The building was replaced with a more suitable place of worship in 1672, after the church was formerly recognized and headed by minister John Hale. Hale was born in Charlestown and attended Harvard College as a young man. He was ordained as the minister of the first parish church here and oversaw the churches separation from Salem Parish. Interestingly, John Hale was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the Salem Witch Trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them. The church grew with the population of town and a new building was constructed in 1770, just before the Revolution. The church was renovated in 1835 to give it the Greek Revival appearance we see today.
Located on Cabot Street in Downtown Beverly, Mass, the aptly named Cabot Theater stands as one of the most iconic landmarks in the town and North Shore. The building was constructed in 1920 by Glover Ware and Harris Ware of Marblehead and named the Ware Theatre, at a cost of over $250,000 a century ago. The structure was designed by the architectural firm of Funk and Wilcox, who are credited for dozens of theaters in the Boston area. The lobby of the building was faced with pink marble with a gold-leaf embellished, vaulted ceiling. The auditorium, was furnished with a forty-three foot dome, chandeliers, and a $50,000 pipe organ. During the 1960s, the theater was sold to Loews who renamed it after its location on Cabot Street. In 1976, the building was purchased by Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company, restoring the interior spaces, stage rigging, and dressing rooms. For 37 years, The Cabot hosted Le Grand David’s long-running magic show that entertained local audiences, made seven White House appearances and won recognition in the Guinness Book of Records and national magazines. The future of the theater was uncertain until it was purchased and a new board of directors was instituted who provide funding streams, new live acts and maintain the historic structure to this day.
Located on Cabot Street, the main commercial street of Beverly, Massachusetts, this stunning stone church is one of my favorites on the North Shore. Though the church looks older, it was built in 1898 as a late Romanesque Revival church structure. The building replaced an 1870 building erected by the parish of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, which was a mission church of the Immaculate Conception Church of Salem; prior to 1870, Beverly’s Catholics were part of the Salem parish. The 1870 church was destroyed by a fire in 1896 and it was years until the Diocese funded a new church here. The new church was designed by a newly formed firm of Reid and McAlpine, who later continued their practice in Canada. The parish pulled out all the stops design-wise as the windows and statuary were fashioned by Franz Mayer & Company of Bavaria, the Altars were carved by an artisan from Italy, and the pulpit and altar railing were carved by a local artisan. The church served a large and growing Irish Catholic population that was forming in Beverly, and has to this day been an active congregation.
Located on Cabot Street (the main commercial street) in Beverly, Massachusetts, the Odd Fellows Hall showcases the Victorian Gothic architectural style many main streets saw pop up in the mid-late 19th century. The Odd Fellows Hall in Beverly was completed in 1875 by plans from local architect Joshua Ober, as a multi-use building with a meeting/ritual hall on the upper floor with commercial uses at the ground floor. The building is constructed of brick with granite and freestone detailing, most notably the freestone tablets on the upper floor, with each side depicting a different ritual symbol. The Cabot Street tablet shows the “All Seeing Eye” with the date of construction and the Broadway facade has the “Heart in Hand” with links below, a bow and arrow and quiver are located on the upper corners. Growing up, I always thought the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one of those secret societies that would be featured in a movie like National Treasure, but it actually, “promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics”. We can still imagine though.
Walking down the main street in Beverly, I was stopped in my tracks to see what appeared to be a 19th century steeple attached to a Modern church. I snapped a photo hoping I could find information on the architectural oddity I saw. The church is the First Baptist Church of Beverly, which was founded in 1800. The congregation’s first place of worship was constructed a year later for the town’s small Baptist population. The building was eventually outgrown and a large church was constructed in 1866 on Cabot Street, the main commercial street in town. The massive wooden church was an architectural landmark and its steeple has served as a lighthouse since the 1920s! The Coast Guard installed a range light in the steeple in 1921 as ships began using the harbor to get to the Salem power plant. It shines every night, even now, and can be seen 13 miles out to sea. Sadly, in 1975, a blaze ripped through the 880-seat sanctuary and chapel, destroying almost all of the church, but the steeple was saved thanks to firefighters from over 15 nearby towns who came to the aid of Beverly. The congregation noted that as the steeple persevered, so would they. A new, Modern church was designed, and incorporated the corner steeple into the new sanctuary, creating the interesting blending of mid-19th and -20th century styles.
John Cabot (1744-1821) was born in Salem, as part of large family of 11 children. John attended Harvard College, graduating in 1763, and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in merchant trade. During the Revolution, John Cabot and his brothers owned shares in many privateer vessels and they made a great deal of money with the resale of stolen goods from the British ships. The house was built in 1781, two years before his brother’s home a block away, now the Town Hall (see last post). Upon its completion, the house was the first brick home built in present-day Beverly, and it set a trend for later Federal homes in the town and region. Cabot also cofounded the Beverly Cotton Manufactory, America’s first cotton mill, which was visited by George Washington. In 1802, Cabot moved to Boston and the home became the first office of the Beverly Bank, the tenth oldest bank in America, with John Cabot serving as one of seven original directors. The home is now owned by Historic Beverly, a local historic society that operates the house as a museum.
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.