Salem Common/Washington Square
In 1788, the Salem Common was originally laid out on a swampy piece of undeveloped land that had been used to graze livestock and train local militia. In 1788, a group of local residents campaigned to level and fill the land, plant poplar trees, lay out walkways and construct a wooden fence with four ornamental gates. Samuel McIntire was commissioned to design the gates, which included a carved portrait of George Washington embellishing the arch of one of the gates.
In 1802, the Common was renamed Washington Square and soon after the land surrounding the Common, which once housed tanyards and ropewalks, became prime residential real estate with many successful merchants constructing impressive brick mansions by 1820. In 1850, the City Council appropriated $7,000 for the erection of the ornate cast iron fence which currently graces the Common and in 1880, the four streets around the Common were renamed Washington Square East, North, West and South. In 1926 as part of the Salem Tercentenary Celebration, a bandstand was constructed at the center of the Common and in 1976, to honor the nation's Bicentennial, a small-scale replica of McIntire's gate was constructed and a War Memorial was dedicated. Today, the Salem Common is the heart of the Salem Common National Register District and the Washington Square Local Historic District.