A Brief History: Hamilton Hall is located at 9 Chestnut Street in Salem Massachusetts. Salem served as a key political location in the 1800’s for Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans, who were constantly at odds. To satisfy the desire by both political parties to have a meeting place, Hamilton Hall was designed in 1805 by notable Salem builder Samuel McIntire. Construction was completed by 1807 by the Federalists who served as the first to care for the building. This 3-story, brick building was named after the Federalist party leader and founding father Alexander Hamilton. Construction of the hall was funded by Federalist families in Salem and cost $22,000.Within its walls, the ground floor originally housed retail spaces in which vendors sold goods. These goods were often used in events held on the upper floors. On the second floor, the ballroom was outfitted with a sprung floor, which was ideal for dancing.The Hall hosted many engagements in its early years, including one tradition that continues today, which is the Christmas Week dance. According to reports, the first assembly in the hall for this continuing tradition was noted to be controversial. Popular story states the minister, Parson Hopkins, of the near-by South Church was seen pacing outside the church on this inaugural night. He reportedly appeared agitated, waving his arms and muttering, “back to back and breast to breast, they are dancing their souls to hell.” In addition, the hall hosted concerts, theatrical productions, auctions, and charity fairs. Notable functions include the Charles Dickens Tea Party and a Leap Year Party. The second-floor ballroom hosted many galas, which honored political and military leaders, such as statesman Timothy Pickering, Massachusetts Governor Christopher Gore, and commodore of the frigate Constitution William Bainbridge. The most exciting moments was a party honoring Marquis de Lafayette, a commander during the Revolutionary War, during his visit to Salem in 1824. Nearly 300 men of the town attended the toasting.
To offset expenses in 1826, Federalist caretakers made the decision to rent a portion of the building to John Remond, a free black man of Caribbean descent. He ran his catering business out of the Hall until the mid-19thcentury. John, his wife Nancy, and their 9 children resided within the Hall during this time.
They were well known for their fancy and delicious feasts. They cooked for notable individuals such as Marquis de Lafayette and Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematician credited for founding modern maritime navigation. The Rumford oven used to cook so many of their famous meals is still housed within the building today. In addition to their catering, John and his wife were also well known for their activism primarily regarding the causes of abolition, women’s suffrage, and segregation within schools in Salem. Their children Charles and Sarah became prominent activists in the fight against slavery.
Today, the Hall hosts many social events, including parties, private functions, weddings, and various lectures. Lectures held in the hall originated with the Ladies Committee originally founded in 1944. The Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970 and is part of the local McIntire Historic District in Salem.
Haunted History: There have been claims of seeing an apparition of a male on the stairwell, then just disappear. Visitors have claimed to have felt unusual cold spots throughout the house.