Salem’s Old Town Hall is the home of The Salem Museum and is a significant historic building in its own right. Designed by noted architect Charles Bulfinch, it is the earliest surviving municipal structure in Salem, MA,,dating from 1816-17, and is an outstanding Federal Style building. The second floor of the building, Great Hall, has always been used as a public hall, and contained Town offices until 1837. The first floor, originally designed as a public market, now houses the Museum.
The building and its Derby Square site maintain historical associations with Salem’s prominent 18th and 19th century Derby family for whom Derby Square, Derby Wharf, Derby Street and the two Derby houses on the Salem waterfront were named. The building contains elements attributed to both Charles Bulfinch, the most influential Boston architect of the Federal period, and Samuel McIntire, Salem’s renowned architect and woodcarver. The structure was saved from demolition by Salem preservation architect Philip Horton Smith in the 1930s, and underwent a partial restoration in the 1970s.*
Old Town Hall is owned by the City of Salem. Gordon College of Wenham, MA, has been contracted by the City to maintain, operate and assist in the preservation and improvement of the building. Among current public uses of the building are seasonal performances of the play “Cry Innocent” a production of History Alive!, the professional acting branch of the Gordon College Department of Theatre. Various spaces are also available for rental for weddings, school events, private events, cultural events and any other appropriate public and private uses. For information on function rentals, go to: Salem Old Town Hall.
*Significant portions of this text courtesy of the Old Salem Town Hall website.