The Derby Square market, as seen from Front Street, circa late 1800s. -- Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

The Derby Square market, as seen from Front Street, circa late 1800s.

Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Salem's Derby Square Through the Years

It's a place for markets (both farmers and flea), summer concerts, and art festivals. And it all started in 1816.

According to a 2016 blog post about the 200th anniversary of Derby Square, the Salem marketplace started thusly:

"John Derby III and Benjamin Pickman, Jr., scions of wealthy Salem families, business partners and brothers-in-law, offered the land on which the majestic and short-lived Derby Mansion formerly stood to the town of Salem in 1816 with the provision that a suitable civic building be built – civic in this context clearly implying both public and commercial functions. The city accepted the offer, and so the new Derby Square was developed over 1816-1817 with the new Town Hall/Market House at its center." 

Oranges for sale at the Salem Market at Derby Square in the early 1900s. David Zoller is on the left. -- Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Oranges for sale at the Salem Market at Derby Square in the early 1900s. David Zoller is on the left.

Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Although the look and general function of Derby Square has changed slightly in its 200 years of existence, its role as a meeting place for people in search of culture, connection, and culinary creations has stayed the course. Today Derby Square is home in the summertime to a weekday farmer's market, weekend concerts, and a monthly flea market known as the Derby Square Flea Salvage Art Market.

Shoppers peruse the offerings at the Derby Square market, circa 1971. -- Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Shoppers peruse the offerings at the Derby Square market, circa 1971.

Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

According to Salem Main Streets, "Becky Putnam, Carol Hedstrom and Stacia Kraft took their shared passion for 'history, architecture and all things vintage' to create a one time pop up market in September 2015. So successful was it that they formed CDP Productions and proposed a full season of outdoor vintage and art markets to the City. A May-September schedule was established."

Visitors to Salem looking for a little history with their flea market come every month to search through vintage items and take part in events, keeping the vision of Derby Square as a civic center alive, even after 200 years.

Old Town Hall at Derby Square, as seen from Front Street in the late 1800s. -- Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Old Town Hall at Derby Square, as seen from Front Street in the late 1800s.

Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum

Take a peek at Salem history and see hundreds more beautiful, historic photos in the Salem News' new book, Salem Memories: Volume II.

Salem Memories: Volume Two Cover
The Salem News presents Salem Memories: Volume Two

$39.95

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