J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

At the Salisbury Mansion

This is the Salisbury Mansion in Worcester, where I’ll be speaking today at noon about “The Breakdown of Royal Rule in Massachusetts, September 1774.” This is one of many events in the city commemorating the local events of that month.

Back in 1919 a book called Some Historic Houses of Worcester said:
Of all the notable dwellings in this vicinity of a century past the old Salisbury Mansion alone remains,—a watchful sentinel since the year 1772, when Stephen Salisbury [1746-1829] erected it for his home. Mr. Salisbury, of the commercial house of Samuel and Stephen Salisbury, was a merchant and one of the leading importers of Boston. In order to expand their business, the brothers opened a store in Worcester, Stephen Salisbury coming here for that purpose in 1767 and beginning business in a small building that then stood north of Lincoln Square. For three years Mr. Salisbury boarded at Timothy Paine’s first home on Lincoln Street. Not long after this the young merchant built the mansion in Lincoln Square, where he lived for many years with his mother, to whom he was most devoted.
The store was closed in the 1810s and that part of the building heavily remodeled, so the original Georgian mansion became more Federal.
To-day the mansion of the first Salisbury fronts the steady traffic in Lincoln Square and the streets that branch from it. It is in full view of the site of the school-house where taught John Adams, second President of the United States; of the site of the Timothy Bigelow House, from which Colonel Bigelow departed to join the minutemen at Lexington; of the site of the old Hancock Arms, where occurred Revolutionary events; of Lincoln Street and the old Boston Road, over which have passed so many noted men; and of the equally famous Main Street, down which the old mansion witnessed the march of Washington when he passed through Worcester to take command of the troops at Cambridge in 1775.
Note that all those “sites” no longer have the buildings on them. And that in 1929 the Salisbury Mansion was moved away from Lincoln Square to its present location, 40 Highland Street. It has sequentially been the property of the American Antiquarian Society, the Worcester Art Museum, the Worcester Employment Society, the Salisbury Mansion Associates, and now the Worcester Historical Museum.

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