Located at 138 Federal Street, the Assembly House was erected in 1782, as a "Federalist Clubhouse." Its history has two distinct phases. The building was built as an assembly hall where balls, concerts, lectures, theatricals and other cultural events were held. Its early history was distinguished by the fact that the Marquis de Lafayetee was entertained there in 1784 and President George Washington dined and danced there in 1789. The architect and builder are not known, but the ballroom was believed to be two stories and extended across the back width of the building.
When a new hall opened on the Stearns block, the Assembly hall became obsolete, so was turned into a private residence. Samuel McIntire was hired to remodel the structure. Using the Adamesque Federal style, McIntire greatly enriched the front of the house by adding four pairs of Ionic pilasters. A deck balustrade and front doorway was adorned with rosettes and bellflowers. The ornate front porch was added later.
The house was presented to the Essex Institute by Miss Mary Silver Smith. The front half has been open to the public since 1972.
The Assembly House by Gerald Ward
The Colonial Architecture of Salem by Frank Cousins, p. 218-19, plate CX
Architecture in Salem by B. Tolles, p. 143-44