Holidays in Salem

A few weeks ago my husband and I stayed overnight at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass for our anniversary.  We needed to be somewhere close enough to home that if the kids needed us, a short drive would be all that was required.  Aside from its convenience, Salem is my heart's home.  It is a place I always long to be, and I never tire of it (as evidenced by this post, this post, this post, and this post.)  It is the place that I plan on moving to someday soon, very soon if possible.  Its pull is too strong for me to deny that I am meant to live there eventually, and hopefully that plan will include the purchasing of an old sea captain's house on Chestnut Street or near the harbor.

The weekend we stayed in Salem just happened to fall on the same weekend as Christmas in Salem.  Somehow I had never heard of this event before.  Even with all of my continual Salem day trips, I realized I had never been there in December.  Too busy of a month, I suppose.  So glad the timing worked out as it did, though, because Christmas in Salem is now my favorite Christmas themed event.  This year they showcased nine historic homes that were all decorated beautifully for Christmas, and as they mention on their website, the event also features "lectures, music, restaurants, wine tastings, and shopping specials."  Most of the homes on the tour are privately owned, and some of the owners even sat around, casually, in their living rooms or kitchens, saying a friendly hi to all the visitors.  I loved getting a peek into the homes of everyday Salem residents, and it certainly helped my fantasy of making the move there grow more urgent and powerful.

(Unfortunately, I forgot my real camera at home on this trip, and instead had to rely solely on my iPhone camera.  Was not happy about that, so please excuse the picture quality.)

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This is in the Gardner-Pingree House is owned by the Peabody Essex Museum.  In this home, Capt. Joseph White was brutally murdered in 1830.  His death and the subsequent trial of his murderers inspired Edgar Allan Poe in writing "The Tell Tale Heart."  String instruments were being played on the tour through this home, and it was beautiful.

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Also the Gardner-Pingree House.

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A gorgeous private home that was part of the tour.

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Stunning private residence

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Same private home

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Another gorgeous home on the tour

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The Custom House was also on the tour.  If you have ever read "A Scarlet Letter" you would have read an extensive description of this very building.

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Taken from the second floor of the Custom House, looking out toward the harbor.

Walking around Salem at the holidays brings a special kind of joy.  The busy season of Halloween is over.  The crowds are gone, but this place is still magic.  Christmas, twinkling lights adorn buildings, trees, and homes.  Wreaths and winter greens are draped with care in windows and on ledges.  Bright red bows and ribbons compliment the greens and detract from dormant nature, in its seasonal slumber.  The sometimes harsh ocean winds are countered by cozy, roaring fires in various fireplaces in homes, restaurants, and hotels.  It becomes a world in slow-pace and severe beauty.  Salem in winter is a thing to behold.

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Taken aboard the Friendship

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Restaurant in Salem

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Taken inside the Hawthorne Hotel lobby

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The view from our hotel room, looking over Salem Common.  The building with the glowing red windows is the Salem Witch Museum.

Each year, the Christmas in Salem event moves to different homes and neighborhoods throughout the city, making each year a completely unique experience.  This will remain an annual event for us.  We enjoyed it so much.  And, perhaps, one year, once I finally make that Salem dream home a reality, my own historic abode could be on the tour as well.  One can dream.


  1. Ooooh, what an amazing stay you had! All those homes--- getting to peek inside--- and the town is SO beautiful at Christmas! When you move into your Salem home, I'll have to come back up to visit :D
    What a fun trip--- so glad you two got to have that special time together!

  2. Ooohhhhh....can't wait to try this next year! I love Salem but don't think I could move back to the city. Quiet village life suits me perfectly!

  3. Heather - YES! Do come when I move there! We would have such fun again.

    Tim - I am craving a bit of city. I was thinking Boston before, but my husband doesn't want to live in that big of a city, so I think Salem would be a great compromise. However, I love village life as well. So, my dream would be to have our main house in Salem and then a small, second house (nothing fancy) in the lake district or mountains of NH. I can't move for sure before my eldest graduates though, so that's at least a year and a half.

  4. It looks wonderful! I need to plan a trip sometime, as I have never been to Salem. All of these wonderful New England places are just a car ride away, yet, we don't often get there.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous pictures Alyson. I have never heard of it and now I must go some year too! Heather, you need to get back here at Christmas time. All these beautiful things nearly at my doorstep and I never wander out of Albany at Christmas time. Really must add it to my list!

  6. I have only been to Salem once and it was in September. I really need to go again... and this makes me want it to be in December.

  7. We didnt get to Salem as I had hoped when we visited New England in September but I love this post. What a wonderful event and those houses are just gorgeous.

  8. So glad you stayed with us at the Hawthorne Hotel and thanks for all the great photos! I ADORE your photo of the Friendship!

    Juli Lederhaus
    General Manager

  9. Just wanted to add a note about the Gardner-Pingree House of Peabody Essex Museum. It is indeed open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday every week, for two to three house tours daily. Tickets are purchased at the Admissions desk at Peabody Essex Museum. The special Christmas decorations are now down, but the beautiful furniture which was designed for the home by Samuel McIntire is back in place. It's a great tour!

  10. Michelle Moon - thanks for letting me know! I was told it wasn't open on a regular schedule by someone working the tour. I will change that bit of info right now. I have a membership to PEM and love going on any of their tours.

  11. Beautiful photos ... I love Salem too but more as a place to visit. I like the quiet of NH! I've always wanted to see the Peabody Museum though - one place I never have gotten to. Thanks for the tour, wonderful as always ...

  12. I will make sure to wander down chestnut street when we make it to salem! How exciting, though I'll miss you being in your sweet amazing NH village and your gorgeous home....thats the story of my life...being addicted to change and adventure, yet drawn to the idea of a romantic permanent home. But there's always the pull, yes? We are being led...and we discover more about life as we go.