Tucked away on Carpenter Street, one of my favorite Salem houses, the Edwards-Machado House stands out as the only brick house on the street, for good reason! In 1803, Joseph Edwards, a carpenter, purchased this piece of land and built a three-story wooden house for his family. Just three years later, a large fire destroyed the home, the family’s belongings, and at least two neighboring homes. Undeterred, Edwards built the present house to replace the one lost in the fire in 1807, once he received his insurance, but this time, he constructed the home of fireproof brick! He sold the house not long after, and the property went through many hands in the 19th century, many owners renting the property to families. In 1877, the property was sold to John Bertram, one of Salem’s greatest benefactors who lived at 370 Essex Street which he later gave his mansion to the city for use as a public library. Bertram rented out the former Edwards home to the Machado family.
Immigrants from Cuba, the patriarch, Juan (John) was a cattle rancher in Cuba. He came to the United States in the early 1850s to escape having to take the loyalty oath to Spain, as he believed in Cuban independence. In the U.S. he entered school in Manchester-By-the Sea in order to learn English. In Massachusetts, he met his future wife, Elizabeth, and took her back to Cuba where they remained for over ten years. In 1868, just before the beginning of the Ten Years War in Cuba, Juan, his wife and their children left for the final time after he had freed his slaves and distributed his cattle to various relatives. In Salem, he worked as a spanish teacher and translator. His son, Ernest, became famous as a prominent Cuban-American architect. Ernest attended MIT and studied architecture before entering the office of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the successors of the great architect H. H. Richardson. In the late 1890’s Machado opened his own architectural firm, with offices in Salem and Boston, and designed many large Colonial Revival estates for wealthy New England families. Tragically, Ernest died in New Hampshire, when his canoe capsized, drowning at 39 years old.