, Salem, MA


April 26, 2012

Tales of Chestnut Street

Focus is on house stories as owners open doors for tour

There's a sense of obligation that comes with living on Chestnut Street in Salem.

"I am a steward of my house," said Patricia Zaido, who lives at 13 Chestnut St., among some of the best examples of Federal Period architecture in the country. "It's my responsibility that nothing terrible happens to this house on my watch."

That sense of obligation is why 10 homeowners on Chestnut Street will open their doors Saturday, May 5, for a house tour to raise money for Hamilton Hall, one of the most renowned buildings in their midst.

Visitors on the tour will be greeted by owners at each address, who will describe the history of their house and share unusual stories from its past.

Zaido's house, for instance, was built for $1,800 in 1833 and is the only one on the street built by a woman.

"I suspect her husband bought the land, and he was a sea captain," Zaido said. "My guess is he was lost at sea and she went on."

After the tour, for an additional fee, visitors can enjoy a traditional tea, complete with pastries and tea sandwiches, served inside Hamilton Hall.

Built in 1805 at 9 Chestnut St. by Samuel McIntire (1757-1811), one of America's first and most renowned architects and woodcarvers, Hamilton Hall was commissioned by Salem's wealthy merchants and sea captains.

Originally designed as a kind of community center, it features a large ballroom and still hosts a variety of functions today.

"We feel a commitment to the city that Hamilton Hall is preserved," said Zaido, who is on the building's board of directors.

Chestnut Street Days have been held to support Hamilton Hall in the past, but the last one was sometime in the 1970s.

Telling stories

Although Chestnut Street is often included on the Christmas house tour hosted by Historic Salem Inc., this spring's event will focus on history.

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