, Salem, MA


January 10, 2013

Letter: Looking back at Salem's Mason Street

To the editor:

Mason Street was originally part of the area known as “paradise.” Here on a hill, Capt. Jonathan Mason, for whom the street is named, built himself a large, handsome house.

Mason, a merchant who had commanded an armed brig in the Revolutionary War, was well-respected by his neighbors for initiating several neighborhood improvements — namely, a barber shop, a newspaper, a burial ground and a school (Northfield School). It is also said that on more than one occasion he served as a local arbitrator.

Mason Street, which runs from North to Grove streets, was laid out as a public way June 23, 1798. According to historian Joseph B. Felt, it was named in 1820. It appears on the 1820 map of Salem.

Circus performances were once held at the grounds here, near the foot of Barr Street. On the evening of May 9, 1848, during a grossly overpacked show of the Sands, Lent & Co. Circus, an entire section or two of occupied seats fell, taking with them several hundred spectators. Needless to say that although no one was seriously injured, the evening ended in mass confusion and vandalism of circus property.

In 1855, the Salem and South Danvers Oil Co. opened at No. 43. At first, the company manufactured resin oil and candles, later expanding its operations to include curriers’ greases, cylinder and machinery oils, lard, varnish, acids, ammonia, naphtha, kerosene, and gasoline, which was kept in stock.

With its history of fires, and changes of ownership and names, this enterprise was not to vacate Mason Street until 1941.

Throughout the years, Salem has produced some creative entrepreneurs. One who lived on Mason Street was Willard B. Porter, a potter who designed and crafted a Salem witch souvenir pipe that he advertised in early 20th-century housekeeping magazines as “an ideal Christmas gift.” The bowl of the pipe was a cauldron and the stem, a broom.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Water Bottles Recalled for Safety
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate