The Hawthorne Hotel at 18 Washington Square West opened for business with a three day celebration starting on July 21, 1925. Named for Salem's famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne, the hotel was funded by a joint venture between Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Salem Rotary Club. Volunteers in the business community were trained by the Hockenbury System of Harrisburg, Penn., a group that enabled 123 communities nationwide to build and finance their own hotels. In one week, 16 teams of men, divided into four teams, competed for highest sales honors and sold more than half a million dollars in stock to local residents for a proposed "modern hotel for Salem." More than a thousand residents and businessmen invested in the proposed hotel, financing its construction. After World War II, a group of local businessmen bought many of the stock-holding residents out and acquired controlling interest.
The site chosen for the hotel was originally owned by the Salem Marine Society. They sold the land with a stipulation that the group maintain a presence at the hotel. To this day, an exact replica of a cabin from the Taria Topan, an East India trade vessel, stands on the rooftop of the Hawthorne where the Salem Marine Society still meets.
To further highlight the hotel, a drive to raise money to buy Bela Prat Lyon's statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne to create a Hawthorne Monument was undertaken. The Hawthorne's stock salesmen agreed to help raise money to help the Hawthorne Memorial Association in their endeavor. The statue was moved from Boston to a location just a few yards from the hotel.
The Hotel has attracted some famous guests over the years. In 1970, the cast of the TV show "Bewitched" stayed at the hotel while filming two episodes in Salem. The Hotel was also featured in the shows. World leaders who visit Salem to speak at the annual Salem State College series stay there. Former president George Bush and Gen. Colin Powell and Shimon Perez were some of these. Actors Alan Alda, Bette Davis and Liza Minelli have all stayed there as well as Johnny Cash.
After extensive renovations in 1986, the Hotel was added to the list of Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The height of the ballroom ceiling is 18' 10".
- Vertical File in the Salem Collection - Hawthorne Hotel
- Hawthorne Hotel Hotel website
- Salem: from Naumkeag to Witch City by J. McAllister, p. 108-111
- "Building morale: Salem's first hotel was the result of communitywide effort" Salem Evening News, Mar. 3, 1999, p. C 1
- "The Hawthorne is region's grand dame" Boston Sunday Globe, July 23,2000, p. N 9
- "Court nixes Salem hotel appeal: Pickering Wharf project clears hurdle; other suits still pending" Salem Evening News, Mar. 14,2002, p. 1
- "Hawthorne Hotel debt deal reported: Harrington properties in arrears" Salem Evening News, Aug. 30, 1994, p.1
- "Fashion statement: Hawthorne fund-raiser celebrated 75 years of weddings" Salem Evening News, July 22, 2000, p.1
- "Balancing Act; Hawthorne Hotel's Judi Lederhaus keeps it all together as business leader and new mom" Salem News, Mar. 14, 2006, p. B 1
- "Vessel cabin replica hidden at top of hotel" Salem Evening News, June 20, 2001, p. A3
- "An upside-down hero: 147 years later, traitor will find a measure of dignity in Salem" Salem News, Mar. 24, 2008, p. 1
- "Hawthorne added to "historic hotel" listing" Salem Evening News, Oct. 12, 1990, p. 11
- "Hawthorne Hotel celebrates 70th year" Salem Evening News, Dec. 6, 1995, p. C3