Sunday, August 13, 2023
Historic Site Tours and Events
Your choice of two tours (space is very limited, register early). Select and pay for your tour when you register for History Camp Boston.
Advance reservations are required. We expect that these tours will sell out, so register as soon as possible. Note that the tours are at roughly the same time, so you’ll only be able to attend one tour.
9:00 am–5:00 pm—Includes ferry to Salem and back
8:30 am–3:30 pm—Includes bus to Salem and back as well as admission to the Rebecca Nurse Homestead
The Maritime History of Boston and Salem
Tour Boston’s downtown wharves and then board the ferry to Salem to learn about that city’s very rich history of international commerce in the age of sail.
Update: Sold out
Liz Nelson Weaver of the Friends of the Boston Harborwalk will take you through the history of Long, Central, India, and Rowes wharves and what lies behind four centuries of dramatic changes.
Why were Central and India wharves built in the early 1800s and what did they look like? What led to the area’s decline? How were South and North stations once linked?
The tour will end at Rowes Wharf. Folks will have 30 minutes before needing to be back at Long Wharf to board the Salem Ferry. It’s a 10-minute walk, so you have time to take a look at the historic map collection in the Boston Harbor Hotel lobby or grab a cup of coffee.
Aboard the Salem Ferry as we head out of Boston Harbor and turn North toward Salem, you’ll see the wharves we just walked around and Liz will provide information about East and South Boston.
For 40 years, Salem was the richest place, per capita, in the Early Republic, and that wealth came from overseas trade.
On this tour we will learn about the history and hear about some of the merchant princes, such as E. Hasket Derby (1739-1799), who became America’s first millionaire, parlaying a fortune in wartime privateering into a far greater fortune made by opening America’s trade with the ports of Asia, exchanging specie (gold and silver) for cloth from India, pepper from Sumatra, coffee from Java and the Philippines, and tea, porcelain, and silks from China.
Many of the buildings associated with that period still stand in Salem, and some are open to the public under the auspices of the Peabody Essex Museum and the Salem Federal Maritime Park. They also maintain Derby Wharf, the “Friendship” (a reproduction East India trading ship), the 1819 Salem Custom House, and the Pedrick warehouse (from 1770, used for cargo storage and Revolutionary War privateering, with sail loft).
At the end of the tour of Salem, we’ll take the ferry back to Boston.
Boston Guide: Liz Nelson Weaver is a member of Friends of the Boston Harborwalk and has given the Wharf District tour some dozen times. She also heads the Friends signage initiative, and in 2022 gave a talk at History Camp about this multiyear public history project.
Salem Guide: Robert Booth is Director and Curator of the Manchester Historical Museum in Manchester-by-the-Sea., near Gloucester on Cape Ann. He is the author of several books of history, including Death Of An Empire: The Rise & Murderous Fall of Salem, America’s Richest City, and has presented at History Camp Boston.
9:00 am — Meet guide Liz Nelson Weaver on the second floor of the Boston Custom House, 3 McKinley Square, Boston. See details below.
11:30 am — Be at dock to board ferry (1 Long Wharf)
11:45 am — Ferry leaves for Salem
12:30 pm — Ferry docks
12:45–1:45 pm — Lunch on your own
1:45 pm — Tour Salem with Bob Booth
3:45 pm — Start boarding ferry at 10 Blaney Street
4:00 pm — Ferry leaves for Boston
4:50 pm — Ferry docks in Boston at Long Wharf
Tour Meeting Place
Meet Liz Nelson Weaver on the second floor of the Boston Custom House, 3 McKinley Square, Boston. Walk right in and up the staircase to the second floor. Arrive a few minutes in advance to admire the building and art.
Note that the building is owned by Marriott, but the first two floors are fully open to the public. (Unhelpfully, there’s no sign, inside or out, to indicate this.)
The Witch Trials: Salem Village and Salem Towne
On the tour you will visit several significant historical sites, including the remains of the parsonage where Reverend Samuel Parris’ 9-year-old daughter, Betty, and 11-year-old niece, Abigail, had their fits that began the witch-hunt. The walking tour will be outside, and stops along the way will include the Training Field, Parsonage site, Ingersoll’s tavern, the Salem Village Witch Trials Memorial, and the First Church of Danvers (Salem Village Church). Tour includes transportation from Boston to Salem Village by bus.
Updated: Sold out
While Salem is where people visit today to learn about the 1692 witchcraft trials, Salem Village, called Danvers today, is where the hysteria began on a cold February day. Two young girls began acting out and the local doctor’s diagnosis was that they must be under the Devil’s hand. Soon neighbor was turning against neighbor and residents were accused. Over a period of 16 months, 25 people were executed.
We will travel to Salem by bus, where you’ll have an hour on your own to get lunch and look around.
On our 90-minute walking tour, you will hear the personal stories and examine the theories about how all this happened. Although most of the structures from 1692 are long, we know where they were located
Salem Village: Daniel A. Gagnon is the author of A Salem Witch: The Trial, Execution, and Exoneration of Rebecca Nurse, serves on the board of directors of the Rebecca Nurse Homestead Museum, and has presented at History Camp Boston.
Salem Towne: Giovanni Alabiso operates a tour company in Salem, has been giving tours and has studied Salem’s history over the last ten years, and has presented at History Camp Boston.
8:00 am — Begin boarding bus at the Sheraton Boston at 39 Dalton Street
8:30 am — Bus leaves Sheraton Boston
9:30 am — Nurse Homestead Tour
10:30 am — Bus to walking tour
10:35 am — Walking tour of Salem Village with Dan
Noon — Bus to Salem Towne
12:30 am — Lunch on your own in Salem
1:30 pm — Walking tour with Giovanni
3:00 pm — Bus to Proctor’s Ledge
3:30 pm — Arrive in Boston at the Sheraton Boston at 39 Dalton Street
Tour Meeting Place
Sheraton Boston, 39 Dalton Street, Boston