Daniel Low & Company

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  • Daniel Low & Co. was a landmark store downtown on Washington St., located in the distinctive 3-story, red brick building, formerly the First Church, built in 1826. This popular store operated from 1874 until it closed in 1995.
  • This corner lot, in what is known as Town House Square, held Salem's first Meeting House from 1634-1673. A bronze plaque on the side of the building, now used by Rockafella's Restaurant, tells the story. The First Church was extensively remodeled c.1874 in High Victorian Gothic style. It was enlarged to the west, twin corner towers were added.
  • The ground floor was rented out to various commercial ventures to help pay for building and maintenance. There was a crockery, glass and china shop owned by William Bowditch, and a dry good store owned by Edwin Ide. In the 1870's the National Exchange Bank was the tenant adding the vault and double depth windows, features still in place today.
  • Daniel Low and Company acquired the property in 1923 when the First Church merged with the North Church (Unitarian.)
  • Many city residents remember shopping for gifts and jewelry in the store with the white columns, chandeliers and wide central staircase. Even when being used as a church, the bottom floor was rented out to retail establishments to offset the cost of maintaining the building.
  • While traveling in Europe in the late 1880's, the company's founder saw souvenir spoons that inspired him to design a witch-themed version for our city. By 1891, the company registered a witch spoon trademark.
  • Daniel Low & Co. became famous for their souvenir witch spoon which they began making in about 1891 and advertised in national magazines. They became successful with the creation of their own mail-order catalog, which grew to as large as 200 pages. Their first mail order catalogue was called the Daniel Low Year Book and put out in 1892.
  • The owner's son Seth took over after Daniel Low died of a heart attack in the store on Feb. 3, 1911. Low is buried at Harmony Grove Cemetery. Later the company was run by Seth's widow Florence until the mid-1950s.

Seth is responsible for the creation of a grand staircase between the first and the second floors which has since been demolished. In 1955, Bill Follett bought and ran the company until it was sold, along with the building in 1994.

  • The building now houses a restaurant called "Rockafella's" with the upstairs ballroom being used a function hall called Colonial Hall, which has a 400 person capacity.

Daniel Low's "Witch" Spoon....click to enlarge

First Church.png

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Daniel Low and Company
  • "Plate under church cornerstone was prophetic" Salem Evening News, Aug.29,2001.
  • "Farewell to a Salem institution; venerable retailer William Follett to close Daniel Low & Co." Boston Sunday Globe, North Weekly, May 1,1994.
  • "A stalwart of downtown business; Follett's stores have anchored Salem 62 years" Salem Evening News, Aug. 16, 1989.
  • "Salem's Town House Square has seen many changes over the centuries" Jim McAllister for Essex County Chronicles, Salem News, May 21, 2012
  • "Sudden death of Daniel Low in his store yesterday" Salem Evening News, Feb. 5, 1911, p. 1