Frank Cousins & the Phillips Library

Salem’s Phillips Library is still in Rowley. However, we can be happy at the moment that at least the Peabody Essex Museum is finally making an effort at digitization. Yesterday, the library’s vast collection of photographs by Salem photographer Frank Cousins (1851-1925) became available on the Digital Commonwealth. These images are invaluable to anyone who researches Salem’s built environment, and to anyone who just plain loves the city. There are many photographs that represent our only remaining opportunity to see Salem buildings and features that no longer exist due to fire, neglect, or development. It’s truly a treasure trove of visual information, and a collection that should always be openly accessible.

My friends and fellow historians Donna Seger and Jen Ratliff challenged themselves to pick their 10 favorite photos from the collection to post on their blogs, and I couldn’t resist joining in the fun ! Here are my picks, which sadly are incredibly predictable if you know me at all :)

1) Because I can’t resist a good church interior:

“Interior detail, altar, Church of the Immaculate Conception, (1856)”

“Interior detail, altar, Church of the Immaculate Conception, (1856)”

2) Because it’s my favorite stone in Charter Street Cemetery, and that of a Mather to boot !

“Monuments, Nathaniel Mather grave, Salem, Charter Street Cemetery”

“Monuments, Nathaniel Mather grave, Salem, Charter Street Cemetery”

3) Because Hawthorne:

“Salem, 27 Union Street, birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne”

“Salem, 27 Union Street, birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne”

4) Because Hawthorne, again, and because this photo was not taken too terribly long after Hawthorne wrote the Scarlet Letter here in the late 1840s. The view must be incredibly similar to what he saw walking home during those fraught years:

“Salem, 14 Mall Street, Hawthorne house where "Scarlet Letter" was written”

“Salem, 14 Mall Street, Hawthorne house where "Scarlet Letter" was written”

5) More Hawthorne, and because the pre-Colonial Revival-ized House of the Seven Gables looking like any other ordinary Salem residence is itself extraordinary (hashtag three gables):

“Salem, 54 Turner Street, Captain John Turner house”

“Salem, 54 Turner Street, Captain John Turner house”

6) Still Hawthorne (noticing a theme ?), and also because this unassuming spot full of ancient timber is one of my favorite sights in Salem:

“Salem, 54 Turner Street, John Turner house, "House of Seven Gables", Holgrave studio”

“Salem, 54 Turner Street, John Turner house, "House of Seven Gables", Holgrave studio”

7) Because it looks basically the same today, and also I couldn’t resist the movement in this image and the Edwardian clothing:

“Salem, Derby Square, Market House”

“Salem, Derby Square, Market House”

8) Because the harbor is where I feel most connected to Salem’s history, and I wish those buildings were still on Derby Wharf:

“Salem, Derby Wharf, views”

“Salem, Derby Wharf, views”

9) Because I would do literally anything to go back in time and save Salem Depot:

“Salem, Norman and Washington Street junction, Boston Maine Railroad depot, erected 1847”

“Salem, Norman and Washington Street junction, Boston Maine Railroad depot, erected 1847”

10) Because the seventeenth-century Hunt House is one of the lost houses of Salem that breaks my heart the most. Also, horse !

“Salem, Washington Street Corner Lynde Street”

“Salem, Washington Street Corner Lynde Street”