Almshouse

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  • The City Almshouse (or Poor Farm) which stood on Collins Cove, on present day Memorial Drive, for over 140 years, was built in 1816 from plans by Charles Bulfinch. There had been other almshouses in Salem in earlier times, one at the corner of Summer and Broad Streets, and one at the northeast corner of Salem Common.
  • This almshouse was adjacent to the town farms, allowing able-bodied residents to work on the farm to offset their maintenance. The building was a five-story brick residence overlooking Collins Cove and could house 100 residents.The number of residents grew from 70 in the 1870's to 146 by 1883. In 1884, a second building was built next to the almshouse to serve as a hospital for contagious diseases and for the mentally ill.The hospital was known under many names, such as "contagious hospital", "insane hospital" and "pesthouse." It was used for smallpox outbreaks as well. The adjacent almshouse was razed in 1954.
  • In the early 1980's, developers of a condominium complex inadvertently reactivated an unsolved mystery when they discovered 5 headstones on the property, probably from early residents of the almshouse or hospital. Who these unfortunates were is still not known.
  • An article from Lynn Sunday Post quotes Frank Remon, a former harbor master saying that there were a number of persons buried on the old city hospital land and that it was known as "Hospital Burying Ground."


See Also

  • "A look at how the city has helped the needy" Salem Evening News, Dec. 5, 2001. p.A3