The John Ward House, at 38 St. Peter Street in Salem, Mass, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
The scene in 2019:
The John Ward House is one of the oldest buildings in Salem, having been built in stages between 1684 and 1723. It was originally the home of currier John Ward, and it remained in the Ward family until 1816. It was subsequently used as a bakery, and by the time the first photo was taken in the early 20th century it had become a tenement house. However, in 1910 the house was moved several blocks away, to its current location off of Brown Street, and it was restored to its colonial-era appearance. Here on St. Peter Street, nothing has survived from the first photo, but the John Ward House is still standing at its new location, and it is now owned by the Peabody Essex Museum.
The house at its current location, as seen in 2013:
The Witch House, at the northwest corner of Essex and Summer Streets in Salem, around 1901:
The house in 2019:
The Witch House in Salem is one of the oldest houses in Massachusetts, and is the only surviving building in Salem with direct ties to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. The house was owned by one of the judges, Jonathan Corwin. It was likely built in the 1660s or 1670s, although some place its date in the 1640s or even earlier. The 1901 photo was taken prior to its restoration and move; a street widening project necessitated moving it about 35 feet, and the house was restored to its presumed 17th century appearance, which did not include the attached storefront from the 1901 photo.
The Buckman Tavern in Lexington, between 1890 and 1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
Between 1910 and 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
This building, located just to the east of the Lexington Green, was built around 1710 by Benjamin Muzzy. His son John operated it as a tavern for many years, and the tavern was eventually acquired by John Buckman after his marriage to John’s granddaughter Ruth Stone in 1768.
It was during Buckman’s time here that the tavern gained attention as the site where many of Lexington’s militiamen gathered on the morning of April 19, 1775, just before the Battle of Lexington. This battle—really more of a small skirmish—occurred directly in front of the tavern on the Green, and it marked the start of the American Revolution. There was at least one bullet that passed through the front door of the tavern, and later in the day there were two wounded British soldiers who were brought here, and one of them died here in the tavern.
After the battle, John Buckman continued to operate this tavern until his death in 1792. Two years later, it was acquired by Rufus Merriam, who had witnessed the battle nearly 20 years earlier as a 13-year-old boy. He later became postmaster, and the town’s post office was located here starting in 1813, but the building does not appear to have been used as a tavern for much longer after that.
The property would remain in the Merriam family for many years, and it was eventually acquired by the town of Lexington in 1913. The interior was subsequently restored to its colonial-era appearance, and the old tavern is now leased by the Lexington Historical Society, which operates it as a museum.
2023 update: I have added some photos from the interior of the tavern, which were taken during a May 2023 visit:
Union Oyster House in Boston, sometime in the 19th century. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library:
The historic building around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library:
In 1930, courtesy of Boston Public Library:
Sometime between 1934 and 1956. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
The Union Oyster House in 2010:
The above four photos show over 100 years of the history of the oldest restaurant in the United States, the Union Oyster House in Boston. Although the restaurant opened in 1826, the building itself is far older, having been built around 1704. The second floor was once used as the publishing office of the Massachusetts Spy in the 1770’s, and in 1796 the future King Louis Philippe of France lived in exile, also on the second floor. Since becoming a restaurant, the Union Oyster House (originally Atwood & Bacon Oyster House, as seen in the 1898 photo) has served many notable patrons, including Daniel Webster, John F. Kennedy, and other members of the Kennedy family.
Faneuil Hall in Boston, as it appeared between 1890 and 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
The building in 2021:
The building was completed in 1742 as a meeting hall and marketplace, and was largely reconstructed following a fire in 1762 that gutted the building. It is well known as having been a place where patriots such as Samuel Adams and James Otis gave speeches concerning independence in the years leading up to the American Revolution.
The view of Old North Church, looking down Hull Street, sometime in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
About decade later, around 1909. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
Old North Church in 2018:
From 1909 to 2018, not a whole lot has changed here, aside from the addition of parked cars in the 2018 photo, the only differences for the most part are minor cosmetic changes. However, from 1898 to 1909, the scene looks very different – most of Hull Street was still dominated by small wood-framed buildings, some of which dated back to the mid 18th century. The closest wood building on the right-hand side of the street is the Galloupe House, which purportedly was used as General Thomas Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
The centerpiece of all three of the photos, however, is Old North Church, which looks almost unchanged. In fact, though, the entire spire above the brick section is fairly new. Although the church was built in 1723, making it the oldest church building in Boston, the spire was destroyed in a storm in 1804. It was replaced with the one seen in the 1909 photo, which was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954. Despite that, the church still looks very much as it did on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.