About the Member
Built in 1805 on the newly-laid out Chestnut Street, Hamilton Hall is widely recognized as one of the most important Federal buildings in America. It retains its original role as a gathering place for Salem residents, visitors, and special guests. The Hall was built at the peak of Salem’s prosperity, and is surrounded by the stately mansions of those Salem ship captains and merchants who made fortunes importing exotic goods from far flung ports around the world. Designed and built by Salem’s famed architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire, the Hall offers a unique opportunity to appreciate both his vision and his craftsmanship in situ and in a public space.
Hamilton Hall is named after Alexander Hamilton, who led the Federalists during the political turmoil in 19th century Salem between Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans. Each party, determined to have a place, led to the construction of Hamilton Hall by the Federalists.
In its early days, Hamilton Hall hosted elaborate celebrations and banquets, honoring American presidents and visiting dignitaries. The Marquis de Lafayette, John Quincy Adams and both of the Roosevelt presidents dined in the Hall. For generations, under the guidance of a Board of Directors, it has continued to host small and large gatherings. The Hall provides a home for pivotal moments in the lives of those in the community and is a vibrant hub of celebration and commemoration.
One of the first assemblies held at Hamilton Hall was the somewhat controversial Christmas Week dance when Parson Hopkins, minister of the South Church across the street from the Hall, could be seen pacing outside, waving his arms and muttering, “Back to back and breast to breast, they are dancing their souls to hell.” This lively tradition, complete with chosen patronesses, curtsies and the famous bourbon-based Peabody Punch, continues today.
Ongoing events can be as light as a dance lesson across the spring-based dance floor or as serious as a talk on nuclear power during the Hall’s annual World Affairs Lecture Series; for 75 years, the Hall has kept this rich tradition of hosting internationally respected opinion shapers.
A designated National Historic Landmark, the Hall also serves as the site of the Remond family home and business. John and Nancy Remond and their children were the resident family of Hamilton Hall in the mid-19th century. Free African-Americans, two of the Remond children went on to become abolition activists and international orators. The Remond legacy of hospitality and social activism continues to be celebrated today.
Through grants, fundraising and an ongoing membership program, the Board of Directors works to preserve the building and develop educational community programming. Events at Hamilton Hall carry the grace of the past with the energy of the present. From the annual Americana Lecture to concerts by the Boston Artists Society and the nuptial celebrations of community members, Hamilton Hall is a gathering place for joyful occasions and historic moments.