, Salem, MA

April 23, 2013

Letter: Luck salvaged a historic mansion from Salem's fire in 1914

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

William Shepard Gray was a prosperous merchant on Federal Street in the early 1800s. He was born in Lynn in 1773 and took his mother’s maiden name in 1797, becoming Shepard Gray.

“Billy” Gray, as Salem people knew him, made money in commercial ventures on land and at sea, owning the ship Eliza before the War of 1812, in 1810.

It is likely Samuel McIntire did design work on Gray’s 179 Federal St. mansion when it was built circa 1809, the brick house still dominating its area. But the important point remains: It survived the Salem fire in June 1914.

The Gray mansion is in faded glory now, but think how close it came to destruction, along with its two neighbors at the fire’s edge. “Billy” Gray died in Cambridge in 1824, but his mansion still stands on Federal Street in Salem, thanks to luck.

Edward W. Carberg