BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — This weekend’s Christmas in Salem house tour moves to the heart of old Salem — the historic neighborhoods around the once-bustling shipping wharves along Derby Street.
“It’s just such a wonderful neighborhood — it’s the oldest part of Salem,” said Gina Maniscalco of Historic Salem Inc., the private preservation organization sponsoring the 34th Christmas house tour.
This year’s tour features 10 sites, including the historic Custom House, and several in the blocks between Derby and Essex streets.
Two of the featured homes are adjoining houses on the corner of Curtis and Essex streets. Another was the childhood home of Frank Benson, the noted painter.
The grandest stop on the tour, of course, is a little farther from the waterfront — the Gardner-Pingree house on Essex Street, the 1804 Federal period masterpiece by Samuel McIntire that is owned by Peabody Essex Museum.
All of the homes have been decorated by interior designers, florists, garden clubs and others.
Four homes are featured in a Friday-night preview candlelight tour (for advance ticket holders only) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. All of the properties are open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are $35 for the public and $30 for HSI members.
Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting www.ChristmasinSalem.org or by calling Historic Salem Inc. at 978-745-0799. Deadline for advance ticket sales is Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m.
Tickets for the house tour can be purchased for $35 Saturday and Sunday at the Salem Boys and Girls Club, 13 Hawthorne Blvd.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.