, Salem, MA


April 22, 2014

Letter: 'Paradise' on Grove Street

To the editor:

It appears that Grove Street was the result of a clever move on the part of the town of Salem: In 1712 John Trask and Joseph Boice made a request to the town officials for permission to build a grist mill at Spooner’s Point. They got an answer in the affirmative, but of course, there were conditions attached: The town stipulated that a highway be built across the river, as well, and this must be done at Trask and Boice’s own expense and completed within three years.

The new road became Grove Street, which now runs from 65 Tremont to 96 Boston.

According to the city records, Grove Street was laid out as a public way June 29, 1840. It first appears in the 1842 Salem directory, from Goodhue to Harmony Grove Cemetery.

Two impressive landmarks here are the beautifully landscaped Harmony Grove Cemetery with a main entrance at No. 30, and Mack Park (formerly Ledge Hill Park), which at one time was the farm belonging to the family of Dr. William Mack.

The unusual granite ledge and, in fact, the topography of this entire area, was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. Because of its natural beauty, the locality came to be known as “Paradise.”

Most of the buildings on Grove Street are residences dating from about 1870. There is also an industrial component at the upper end of the street.

Industry played an important role here throughout the 19th century as Salem transitioned from maritime trade to leather production. Some of the early names associated with leather manufacturing on this street are Joseph Frye, who ran a steam bark mill at No. 70, Elijah Hanson, whose tannery stood at No. 13, and James Dugan who amassed quite a fortune in leather before losing his money to a failed investment.

No. 50 Grove St., a former tannery, now houses the Moose Lodge. No. 60. The old Salem Oil and Grease Company, which was in its day critical to Salem’s survival, stands in disrepair, vacant, awaiting rehabilitation.

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