Lyceum Hall

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  • "Around the corner on Washington and Church streets, stands Lyceum Hall, built in 1831. Its exterior is unpretentious, its auditorium small and plain, but for lectures, readings and such entertainments it is most convenient. The hall is semi-circular in form, the rows of seats rising one above the other on an angle of thirty-five degrees," writes C. H. Webber in the book Old Naumkeag.
  • Local lyceums, following a national fad of the times,were organized for the purposes of "mutual education" and offered both lectures and debates. Most lecturers were local citizens and offered their services gratis or received $10, but more famous people would be paid as much as $100.
  • Judge Daniel A. White, the president of the Lyceum, delivered the first lecture on Feb. 24, 1830. Among the well know lecturers in the succeeding years were: Francis Peabody, Henry K. Oliver, Rufus Choate, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Horace Mann.
  • On Feb. 12, 1877, in the Lyceum Hall an historic event took place. In front of a large audience, Alexander Graham Bell carried on the first telephone calls with his assistant Mr. Watson, who was in Boston.
  • In 1898, the Salem Lyceum Corporation voted to disband and transfer some $3,000 to the Essex Institute in order to fund ongoing Lyceum lectures under the auspices of the Essex Institute.
  • The wooden structure used by the original lyceum was burned at the turn of the century, then replaced by a brick structure that housed first businesses then Lyceum Bar & Grill for many years.

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Lyceum
  • "Lyceum was popular 19th century venue for entertainment and enlightenment" Salem News, May 23, 2005.
  • "Old Lyceum Hall on Church St. was truly temple of the people" Salem Evening News, July 26, 1921.
  • "It's the end of an era at Salem's famed Lyceum" (restaurant closing) Salem News, July 22, 2011, p.?