Derby Street Historic District

The Customs House
US Customs House, 178 Derby Street in 1818
Photograph courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

This district, established in 1974, includes all of the buildings on both sides of Derby Street, beginning at Herbert Street and extending north to Blockhouse Square. Derby Wharf and the entire House of Seven Gables complex off Turner Street are also included.

Derby Street, running parallel to Salem Harbor, retains its strong association with the city's maritime history during the half century that Salem served as one of the leading ports of entry in the U.S. Many of the existing buildings, both residential and commercial, are directly associated with individuals, families, trades, and services which flourished as a result of the extensive foreign commerce carried on here in the 1760-1820 period.

On either side of the 1819 Custom House stand important houses built for prominent merchants, including Elias Hasket Derby. Further down the street, the closely-built homes and shops, many dating from the pre-1800 period, accurately convey the intimate character and feeling of a Federal Era coastal community.

The House of Seven Gables complex, with its famed Turner House (1668) and Hawthorne's birthplace, ranks among the nation's principal historic shrines.