SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 18, 2013

Letter: Osborne Street's Mechanic history

To the editor:

“The only Indian settlement in original Salem whose location can be identified from records was near the corner of North and Osborne streets in Salem.”

— Sidney Perley, “The History of Salem, Mass.,” Vol. 1, p. 45.

Here, the first English settlers in the area found a small community of Native Americans living in wigwams.

Osborne Street was originally known as “the road to the fish flakes.” By 1837, however, it was called Mechanic Street. What an odd name for a street, right? Well, not exactly: At the turn of the 19th century, a new class of workers emerged — the metal workers, the skilled craftsmen, the men who built and ran the machines that powered industry. Together with other working-class men, they organized in various parts of the world as “mechanics.”

In 1795, the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association formed with Paul Revere as its first president. Salem’s association organized Oct. 1, 1817.

Salem’s Mechanic Hall, a center for concerts, exhibitions, lectures and, later, theatrical performances, stood on the corner of Essex and Crombie streets. It contained a library of 6,000 volumes. (Incidentally, you can still find Mechanic streets throughout the eastern half of this country, wherever there were Mechanic Institutes.)

In 1869, the name of the street was changed to Osborne. The family house of Henry Osborne and his sister Hannah at No. 24 was well-known by that time as the Osborne house.

Henry was a hatter, in business with his brother Stephen at their hat, cap and fur store on Essex Street. Aside from the robbery that took place at the Osborne store in 1858, business went well for Henry and his brother. Henry’s son the Rev. Louis Osborne made it into “Who’s Who in the World” (1912).

Today, Osborne Street presents a quiet contrast to busy North Street. The Osborne house still stands in its original location with the same house number, except that it is now an apartment building with seven units.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium