by Harry Wilkinson
One day after finishing up my feature piece for Down Memory
Lane in the weekly town paper, my monthly movie nostalgia stint (ever
since 1966) for Good Old Days Magazine, and sundry items for the Senior's
paper, the Cod, I questioned myself - "What should Mr. Whip write
about for the next issue of Marblehead Magazine?"
A good friend from Las Vegas provided a clue. She visits here each fall
on a foliage trip and has always enjoyed walking slowly around the town
streets looking at the rows of colorful houses each weather different
paint job. And she delights in reading the plaques affixed to the many
houses as to the year it was built, its original owner, and his occupation.
Needless to say, she spends winter days looking at the wonderful scenes
taken here in the autumn sunlight.
I started thinking about our street names and how some of them came
into being down through the years. In checking I uncovered some really
In our historic town I see listed some 117 Streets, 174 Roads, 40 Lanes,
25 Avenues, 24 Courts, 15 Terraces, 9 Ways and 8 Circles. According
to signpost markers we have a Row, Places, Drives, four Squares, three
Hills, Paths, Views and one each, a Ridge, Highland, Trail, Ledge, Boulevard
and Cove to make up the interesting 1629 we live in.
To start, Washington Street was no doubt named in honor of our first
president who came to the Lee Mansion to visit in 1789. Lafayette Street,
leading to Salem, was named for Marquis de Lafayette who also had enjoyed
the hospitality of Jeremiah and Mrs. Lee at their mansion in 1784.
The way to Salem in 1731 had been called Ye Country Road, six years
later The New Road and then around 1900 called Humphrey Street, started
at the Hour House; now John O. Porter Square at the junction of Lafayette
and Humphrey, right on the Swampscott town line.
Washington Street itself was so called by 1824 but have been The Highway
Broad Street, Ye Queen's Highway, and then Ye King's Highway. As for
Washington Square, it was in 1698 known as The Common; by 1725 Trainingfield
Hill, or Trainfoot Hill; and it became The Square by 1824.
Other names of presidents inscribed on our street signs are Monroe,
Lincoln, Coolidge, Adams, Taft, Eisenhower, Garfield, McKinley, Harding,
Jackson, Jefferson, and Roosevelt.
Jewels are brought to mind by the street names of Emerald Avenue, Ruby,
Garnet, Sapphire, and Amherst. As for flowers, fruits and trees, we
have Orchard Circle and Street, Chestnut, Oak, Linden, Elm, Walnut,
Willow, Maple, Blueberry, Baldwin, Vine, Bartlett, Cherry, Rose, Birch,
Cedar, Locust, Cypress, Laurel, and Garden Road.
Many town heroes and VIPs from the past have highways and byways named
for them. Gerry Street and the Gerry School were named for Elbridge
Gerry, signer and Vice President of this country, while Story Terrace
and the Story Grammar School were named for the Supreme Court Justice
Selman Street was named for Captain John Selman, and Tucker Street was
named for Commander Samuel Tucker was in his heyday had captured some
30 British vessels. Maverick Street was named for Moses Maverick, an
early settler, and Allerton Place for Isaac Allerton, a noted fish merchant
in early days. Barnard Street was named for Parson John Barnard; Merritt
Street for a Captain Merritt was wounded in an encounter with a British
regular at their Neck encampment in 1774; and Abbot Court, Street, and
Veiw no doubt were named in honor of Benjamin Abbot who gave the town
the hall in his name.
Likewise Green Street was named for Samuel Green, commander of Old Ironsides,
Goldthwaite Road for W.J. Goldthwaite who did much to develop the Devereux
section of town, and Ware Pond in Clifton named for Benjamin Ware.
Another local VIP out of the past with a street named for him was Joseph
R. Bassett, the shoe manufacturer. 1900 Bassett Street once had been
called Back Lane in 1724 and then Bassett's Lane by 1875. Another shoe
manufacturer, Joseph Harris, was so honored as was Moses A. Pickett,
the benefactor who left money for the poor; Captain John Manley; Captain
Nicholas Broughton of the vessel Hannah; Captain Josiah P. Cressy
of Civil War heroic deeds, and Wyman Road for Isaac Wyman, a prosperous
Orne Street, for Colonel Azor Orne, have been in 1671 the highway to
the Barnegat section of town, in 1684 The Way to Little Harbor, Ye Main
Street too, and by the 1824 it became Orne Street. The section of the
street up near Fountain Park (Christensen Park) to Molly's Rocks was
called Shinbone Ally by the old folks. And down in old Barnegat we find
colorful Gingerbread Lane, Cradleskid, and Harding's Lanes.
There is a South Street, a West Street, a Spring and a Summer. Summer
Street in 1731 was known as Frog Lane and became Summer by 1861, while
nearby Rockaway Street was in 1699 Martin's Lane, followed by Codner's
Lane, Crooked Lane, Frog Lane by 1761. The Methodist Rocks in 1859,
and finally by 1861 Rockaway Street not to be confused with the Rockaway
Avenue in Clifton.
Busy, busy State Street, especially in the summer time, was in 1665
called Way to the Harbor, Norden's Lane, King Street in 1729, New Wharf
Lane in 1730, and State Street in 1780, while Glover Street, named for
General John Glover, was in 1756 Norden's Lane, 1824 known as Glover's
Square, and plain Glover Street by 1871.
The Town House area in 1824 was called State Street Square; then in
became Market Square in 1856 as it is today. Mugford Street nearby was
The Way to the Woods back in 1667, and later called The Way to Dixey's
Ferry, which took people across Salem Harbor by boat. 1725 found it
Queen Street, and in 1824 Mugford Street honoring Captain James Mugford
of Revolutionary War fame.
Downtown High Street was in 1733 Ye Lower Windmill Hill at Idler's Hill,
by 1820 it was called The Way to the North Marchant Schoolhouse, and
finally in 1824 it became High Street.
Circle Street in 1800 was Oakum Bay, in 1824 Circle Street which the
section around Stacey Street, off Washington, was called Chinatown or
Hooper Street was named for "King" Hooper and Back Square
was so named because the National Grand Bank was located there at Hooper
and Washington for many years before moving uptown. The Savings Bank
was there too, and once two banks operated from the first floor of the
Water Street, leading down to the present Boston Yacht Club, was Bloody
Lane, and everyone laughs when they mention Tucker Street named in 1824
for Commodore Samuel Tucker who had captured 30 British ships long back.
In 1715 it was Broad Highway, but besides being Tucker Street, it has
another name which the Old Timers delight in using as they know the
true story - just plain Shitt'n Hill.
In 1824 Darling Street once had been Darling's Lane in 1788 and Darling's
Meadows which Front Street in 1669 was The Way to Ye Harbor, by 1761
Fore Street, and finally Front in 1801.
The junction of Jersey Street (named so in 1890) and Guernsey (1884)
was called Cow Corner, the streets themselves being named either for
the breed of cows that once grazed there or for the island off the English
coast from where it is said our earliest settlers migrated.
As for the town's Indian background, Nanepashemet Street over on the
Neck as named for the Chief of the Naumkeag tribe was was killed in
battle in 1619 while fighting with another tribe. The priceless Indian
deed of September 1684 is on display in the Selectman's Room in Abbot
Hall and shows the purchase of the town from the Indians for 16 pounds.
Today we have Indianhead Circle, Manataug Trail, Mohawk Road, Pequot
Road, and Sagamore and Arrowhead Roads. And recalling colonial days
there are Miles Standish, Pilgrim, and Puritan Roads.
The town itself in the beginning had been called Marvill Head or Marble
Harbour and by the Indians Massabequash, with Darby Fort (Fort Miller)
established at Nob's Head (Naugus Head) in case of Indian attacks. The
Ferry boat in early days 1628 had carried passengers from town over
Salem Harbor to the foot of Turner Street near the House of Seven Gables.
To continue on, Crocker Park was named for Uriel Crocker, another benefactor
who gave land to the town, and the park on the Neck at Lighthouse Point
is named for the late yachtman-benefactor Chandler Hovey.
Leading to Elm Street is Watson Street for Marston Watson; in 1684 it
was called Narrow Lane, then Codner Lane, in 1772 Frog Lane, and by
1824 Watson Street. Elm Street in 1711 was The Highway to the Back Side
of Town, in 1727 plain Back Street and in 1824 Elm.
One of our main streets, Pleasant, was just Academy Lane in 1800 before
becoming Pleasant Street in 1824, and Cook's Corner at Pleasant and
Washington was so named after the late jeweler Richard M. Cook who owned
the corner building (the Grader Block) for a good many years.
Along the waterfront, Gregory Street in 1800 was Road to the Fish Fences
where Glover Landing is now located, Sea Street was another name and
then in 1866 it became Gregory.
Village Street in 1860 had been Girdler's Lane in 1700 leading to Girdler's
and Bessom's beach facing Salem Harbor. Bessom Street was Factory Lane,
followed by Fish Lane, and finally Bessom wehre the railroad freight
yards were located in the days of train service.
There are lots of interesting coves in town, also. Doliber's Cove was
where the first settler lived in 1629; then Throckmorton Cove, Homan's
or Atkin's Beach Cove off Front Street, Henley's Cove (late Ingalls')
and Lovis Cove (1767) at Fort Beach. There was a Nick's Cove and Waldron's
Cove or Bushy Lane's Cove (First Cove) off Gregory Street, a second
cove, Redstone, and Leslie Cove off Front named for the British Colonel
who led the Redcoats on their march to Salem. Also Little Harbor Cove
or Great Cove was also known as Gale's Cove and later Selman's Cove.
Once there were several active Forts in town history - Fort Bailey at
Bailey's Head in 1775; Fort Washington in 1813 at the Fountain Park
- Molly's Rocks area; Fort Glover in 1861 up at Cow Fort, Hewitt's Head
beyond Seaside Park (or Charles H. Evans Park) at Gilbert Heights. Then
a breastwork at Bartol's Head in 1778 which we know now as Uriel Crocker
And there were lots of important Hills about town - Rowland's, Roundy's,
Reed's, Beacon Hill, Burial, Leggs, plus Gingerbread Hill down at Mount
Pleasant, and even a Corkscrew Hill.
Squares too honor certain citizens - John O. Porter, the prominent ice
merchant; Frederick W. Bailey, the police officer, Samuel Snow II, the
last Civil War veteran in town; and just recently Duncan B. Sleigh Square
in front of the High School.
As for our stern and rockbound coast we have Castle Rock over on the
Neck, Church Rock, Salt, Roaring Rock off Flying Point, Pig Rocks, Tom
Moore's Rock, Half Tide Rock, Marblehead Rock right of the Neck, and
then Halfway Rock three miles off the Neck and halfway between Boston
and Cape Ann. Also there are Molly's Rocks below Fountain Park at Gas
House Beach, Gray's Rocks off Gerry Island, and on Cemetery Road on
Green Street, the Three Sisters Rocks.
In closing, one bit of humor - On Lead Mills Hill at the Marblehead-Salem
boundary line there once was a sign denoting "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING
MARBLEHEAD, PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY, OUR STREETS ARE NARROW AND CROOKED."
One night under cover of darkness members of a rival football team thought
it smart to add the following seven words to the sign - "AND SO
ARE SOME OF YOUR PEOPLE!"
Harry Wilkinson known as Mr. Whip, was a long-time contributor to