, Salem, MA

July 10, 2013

Letter: Kernwood was name of former estate

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Where does the name “Kernwood” come from? The origin of the name is not certain, and why it was chosen as the name of an estate here in Salem, I do not know, but one thing is for sure: Kernwood Street was named for the Kernwood Estate.

Lying on the Danvers River is North Salem land formerly called Horse Pasture Point. Here a magnificent country estate of about 150 acres was established by Col. Francis Peabody.

A gifted entrepreneur in the field of industrial science, this son of Salem merchant Joseph Peabody helped to introduce many practical scientific improvements to industry, including the use of aluminum in dentistry.

On his North Salem land, which he named Kernwood, he built an English-style mansion and landscaped the grounds with a variety of fruit trees and gardens that included a formal Italian garden complete with two marble lions.

According to E. B. Symonds in his publication “Old Northfields,” the colonel also built at this location a huge windmill and carpet factory.

When Col. Peabody died in 1867, he was serving as president of the Essex Institute.

In 1883, his son, Major Samuel Endicott Peabody, a widely known banker and real estate investor, purchased the family estate, where he lived eight months of each year until his death in 1909.

In 1913, the Salem Pageant was held at Kernwood. It was a fancy event, organized by Miss Caroline Emmerton to raise money for the Seven Gables Settlement House. Costumed actors presented highlights of Salem’s history in scenes. The cast was composed of 1,200 individuals; transportation was prearranged from the center of town to Kernwood; a pageant headquarters was set up in town on Washington Street. The interesting facts of this production are seemingly endless. (The Salem Public Library has a file and copies of the program.)

In 1914, the Kernwood estate was sold to a Boston group that converted the property to a private country club. The mansion is gone, having been taken down in 1956 for a new clubhouse.

Kernwood Street was laid out in the early 20th century, from the junction of Liberty Hill Avenue and Sargent Street to Kernwood Bridge.

In addition to the Kernwood Country Club, the area has a park — the McCabe Marina, a public boat landing with a recreation area and walking trails along the river.

Jeanne Stella