, Salem, MA


January 28, 2013

McAllister: Salem's man about town


Educational programs at the Peabody Museum — like James Duncan Phillips’ illustrated talk on “Old Salem Ships” (1906) also attracted Fabens’s attention. In mid-January 1905, he made his way to the Museum’s Academy Hall to hear a Read Fund lecture on “Browntail and Gypsy Moths” given by professor A.H. Kirkland. Two weeks later, he was back at the Peabody for the gala opening of the museum’s new Marine Room.

In between the two events, Fabens had attended a lecture at the adjacent Essex Institute given by the noted community activist Harlan P. Kelsey titled “Is Salem in Need of Civic Improvement?” Fabens obviously believed it was as he subsequently attended meetings on civil service reform at Caroline Emmerton’s mansion on Essex Street, ran successfully for re-election to the Salem Common Council and, later in the year, exulted in the defeat of the colorful Irish mayor, John “Silk Hat” Hurley.

Hamilton Hall on Chestnut Street was a popular Salem venue for cotillions, assemblies and other social events during Fabens’ lifetime. In 1906, the proprietors of the historic Samuel McIntire-designed function hall, needing money to refurbish the third-floor supper room, hosted an exhibition of the famed “Jarley’s Wax Works.” Fabens’s attendance was a given, since he lived just two doors away at 1 Chestnut St. and was a regular at the dances and coming-out balls held at the hall.

The bachelor’s “second homes,” when he wasn’t summering in Jefferson, N.H., were the Salem Billiard Club on Washington Street and the Salem Club on Washington Square. The latter sponsored cultural and educational programs, including a 1902 “smoke talk” titled “Episodes of the Civil War” and given by W.H. Nichols Fabens, and concerts by Jean Missud’s famous Salem Cadet Band. Fabens seldom missed a Salem Club event, especially when Welsh rarebit, the specialty of the house and a personal favorite, was being served.

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