Joshua Ward House

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Constructed by Joshua Ward between 1784 and 1788, this three-story, square, hipped roof dwelling sits at 148 Washington Street, where it would have been right opposite Ward Wharf. It was adjacent to what was known as "Knocker's Hole" shipyard. Ward, a merchant, ship owner and distiller, earned his fortune producing rum by distilling molasses brought over from the West Indies. He lived there until his death in 1825. This Georgian style house with some Federal-style features, is one of the last surviving original waterfront mansions from Salem's Great Age or Sail.

On October 29, 1789, President George Washington stayed at the house for one night as part of a New England tour, that included stops in Beverly, Ipswich, Hamilton, Marblehead and Newburyport. During the 19th century, the house was used as a hotel named "Washington Hotel" probably stemming from Washington's visit there in 1789.

The house underwent a sweeping restoration supervised by Salem architect Staley McDermet between 1978 and 1979. The original wooden roof balustrade, front door surround and the fence were conjecturally reproduced. Much of the original Samuel McIntyre designed interior was perserved. Grants for historical preservation through the Salem Redevelopment Authority helped to pay for the restoration work. The house went on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Robert Murphy, owner of Higginson Book Company bought the Joshua Ward House in 1994. It had been vacant for two years. More recently it had been headquarters for Carlson Real Estate. It had in recent years been the subject of folklore, with tales of noises, apparitions, cold spots and fire alarms going off inexplicably. Legend has it the house was haunted by the ghost of George Corwin, the infamous sheriff of Essex County. The Ward house was built on the site of Corwin's previous house.

See Also

Vertical File in Salem Collection - Joshua Ward House

Architecture in Salem by Bryant Tolles, p. 97-8

New England Ghostly Haunts by Robert Cahill, p. 42-3

The Ups and Downs of Saving Buildings Salem Tales, SalemWeb

"George Washington visited region 200 years ago today" Salem Evening News, Oct. 28, 1989, p. 1

"Vacant Joshua Ward House sold for $245G to book dealer" Salem Evening News, Apr. 4, 1994, p. 9

"$200,000 grants help defray Joshua Ward House remodeling" Salem Evening News, Apr. 28, 1980, p. 21

"200 year old Joshua Ward house emerging from downtown obscurity" Salem Evening News, July 24, 1979, p.1