A Federal Style Home built for a Fine Furniture Maker & Sea-Faring Captain in the Golden Age of Sail

Nathaniel Appleton Jr. (1782-1859) was one of Salem’s leading cabinet(furniture)-makers at a time when Salem was famous for the quality of its furniture. Nathaniel Appleton Jr. specialized in the Sheraton style of furniture. Some of his works are museum quality pieces. The small antique coffee table in our living room is an example of a Sheraton style piece.  This home dates back to 1809 when Nathaniel Appleton Jr. purchased the land from Merchant Abijah Northey for $748.14. The Appleton cabinet-making business prospered, evidently, thru receipts that have survived. Between 1760-1820, Salem merchants were the first to sail to the Far East & Africa for trade. Salem is the birthplace of the National Guard.

Federal Style Architecture

It seems likely that he & his wife Susanna Foster Appleton built the main house to its present appearance soon after the purchase in 1809. A survey of the house (second and third floor rooms and cellar leads to the conclusion that it was built all of a piece rather than piecing buildings together as was popular at that time. The underpinning is original with large hewn posts, beams and joists, and two arched brick chimney foundations. Main house has a granite foundation on fieldstone. The trim and features (frames, chimney-pieces, winder staircase, etc.) all date from the “Federal” period, consistent with a date of 1809, as is the general plan and form, being a three-story hip-roof house, five bays by two (according to research conducted by Historic Salem, Inc.).

In 1825, Mr. Appleton expanded his homestead and set up his cabinet-making shop  in the lot adjoining the back which ran over to Lemon Street.

Marriage of Appleton Daughter & Captain Isaiah Woodbury

In 1832, Susan A. Appleton became the first of the three Appleton daughters to marry. Her husband was Captain Isaiah Woodbury, a Salem shipmaster who hailed from Boxford. We named the Woodbury room after him. They resided in Salem, here at this house and had two sons. Unlike most of his fellow shipmasters, Capt. Isaiah Woodbury remained a seafarer, and it proved his undoing: he died at sea in 1844, leaving his widow and two sons. They continued to reside here in the family home. The Captain’s room is also a nod to Captain Isaiah Woodbury.

Passing of the Appletons

Mr. Appleton contracted cancer in 1858 and died of it on January 18, 1859 in his 77th year. On February 10th, 1883, Mrs. Susan F. Appleton died in her 95th year. Like her mother, Mrs. Susanna Woodbury had a very long life and would reside here through the 1890s and into the 20th century.

Bridge Street Neck Historic District

This district, located within an area believed to be the first settlement of Europeans in Salem in 1626, is one of the first colonies along the New England coast. Unfortunately, there are no known remains of the “Old Planter’s” (Roger Conant & his men) settlement of the 1620s and 1630s. Bridge Street was one of the earliest roads in Salem. Naumkeag (the fishing hole) was renamed to Salem for “Shalom” or peace. (National Register of Historic Places)