Daniel Bray House

On our recent New England trip, we had to make some time to visit the glorious Salem, Mass.

This cutie of a house was built in 1766 and belonged to mariner Daniel Bray. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in cool history.

All information is from the Peabody Essex Museum website. “The Daniel Bray House is from the golden era of Salem’s China Trade. It reflects the working-class Salem residents that supported the global exploits of Salem’s merchant class.

“Recently restored on the exterior to its original 1806 appearance, this modest house tells the story of gentrification and the displacement of Salem’s working class in the early 19th century. Surrounded by the homes of merchants and the sea captains, Bray worked in the maritime world, probably as a rigger, as listed on his father’s will. The house was actually built in 1766 by Danial Bray’s father, Nathaniel. In 1806 Daniel Bray inherited the house and renovated it to the latest taste and it became quite elegant on the outside.

“Only 13 years later, Bray’s view of the new Salem Common became completely blocked by the massive Andrew-Safford mansion, built only two feet away from his window. In a blatant show of gentrification, John Andrew built his mega mansion, completely blocking eastern light from coming into the original kitchen windows of Bray’s house. Historic photography shows that by 1820, Daniel Bray and his little house was the only working class house left on the streetscape, surrounded on all sides by much larger and more expensive houses.

“This close proximity put Daniel Bray smack in the middle of history. He just happened to be looking out of a rear window on this house just before dawn on an early April morning in 1830 and witnessed Richard Crowninshield breaking in through a rear window of PEM’s Gardner-Pingree House. These two houses shared a property line and the rear facades of them faced one another as they do today. When Bray’s neighbor, the slumbering Joseph White, turned up dead later on in the morning, Bray became a material fact witness in the trial of the century, prosecuted by none other than Daniel Webster.”

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