History of
Beverly, Massachusetts
for the Tourist

Photograph of Beverly City Hall:

There are many attractions near Beverly. The Salem Witch Museum gives the history of the 1692 Salem witch trials, and explores the question of whether witches are real. Many boats take people out whale watching, including Atlantic Yankee Whale Watching & Deep Sea Fishing. The Stone Zoo in Stoneham includes many rare animals from around the world. The Wenham museum is located in a house built in 1660, and includes a collection of 5,000 dolls. And there are many more exciting places too.

Regional Map

Settlement of Beverly
The area including Beverly was given to English settlers by an Indian chief in exchange for protection against a rival Indian tribe. Roger Conant led a group of settlers to nearby Salem in 1626, since it had a favorable climate. Most of the company was tempted to give up and leave because of the hardship of founding a new settlement, especially since their former pastor had invited them to Virginia. Roger encouraged them to stay. In 1630 he, along with some other men, founded the first permanent settlement in what became Beverly. Beverly was recognized as a separate town and given complete independence from Salem in 1668. In 1671, Roger Conant, with 34 others, petitioned that the name be changed to Budleigh, the name of the city in England where he was born. He said that they should accept his petition because he was such an important founder of Beverly, and because he never had petitioned for anything else. But his petition was, obviously, denied.

In 1675, King Philip’s War erupted, in which the Indians tried to eliminate the white settlers. According to History of Beverly, by Edwin M. Stone, “twelve towns in Massachusetts, Plymouth and Rhode Island, were destroyed, six hundred buildings, mostly dwelling-houses, were burned, and six hundred of the inhabitants fell in battle or were murdered.” This book gives a list of many men from Beverly who fought in this war. But many Indians had been converted to Christianity, and showed the settlers how to use Indian guerilla tactics. These Indians became scouts, and with this protection against ambushes, the settlers became bold. Finally, after long fighting, they caught King Philip during a surprise attack, winning the war.

Oldest Structures in Beverly
Two of the oldest houses in Beverly are the Balch House and the Hale House.
The Balch house, one of the oldest wood-frame houses in America, was originally built by John Balch in about 1636. Many experts disagree with this official date, but at least part of the house was definitely built in the 17th century. The house is located at 448 Cabot St. in Beverly. The house stayed in the Balch family until 1916, when it was acquired by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Many parts of the building were rebuilt, but the structure of the house was preserved. In 1932, the Beverly Historical Society acquired the house. Today, it is maintained by them as a museum.

The Hale House, built about 1694, is at 39 Hale St. Rev. John Hale was Beverly’s first minister, and played a role in the Salem witch trials. His descendants sold the house to the Beverly Historical Society in 1937, which uses it also as a museum.

Day trips near Beverly
One fun day trip near Beverly that I have done is to climb Mt. Monadnock. Mt. Monadnock is in southwestern New Hampshire, and is about two hours from Beverly. The trail starts at about 1400 ft. high and climbs, over 2.5 miles, to the summit about 3200 ft. high. The trail is mostly shady, except for the last quarter-mile, which is over bare rock. I climbed the mountain to the top and back in about four hours.
Another interesting day trip for history students would be to walk the entire Boston Freedom Trail, which is 2.5 miles long and passes 15 historical sites in Boston. Included on this walk are: the current Massachusetts State House, the former site of the first public school in America, the site of the Boston Massacre, the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard, and the Bunker Hill monument.

Interview with long time residents

Grandpa Johnson
1. How long have you lived in Beverly?
From l928 to 1956 & from 1960 to 2006, that's 74 years.

2. What are some changes that have occurred while you have lived there?
Many changes have occurred in industry - United Shoe Machinery was once a major employer. From the early 1900’s to the 1980's, it employed more than a thousand workers. This accounted for the building of homes for ethnic workers known as Shingleville area. It is now renovated and enlarged, and is known as Cummings Center. It has business, doctor’s offices, banks, restaurants, a fitness center and day care. Rte 128 was built, and the railroad now extends to Newburyport and Gloucester. Some schools have been destroyed, and many more have been built. Beverly was a rural area, but is now heavily populated, with heavy traffic and shopping centers.

3. What do you like best about living in Beverly?
I like the location on North Shore of MA. It has beaches, a nice climate, churches, and is close to Boston universities, hospitals, and sports teams (Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins ). Beverly also has many youth activities and scouting activities. I spent 28 years coaching basketball and baseball.

4. What is one “must see or do” attraction for a tourist?
The waterfront is a important place to visit - it is known as the Birthplace of the American Navy.

5. Do you know why the first settlers came to this area?
They came because of the access to the waterfront and fishing.

Grandma Johnson
1. How long have you lived in Beverly?
I have lived in Beverly since 1960, a total of 46 years

2. What have been come changes during the time you have lived there?
Some elementary schools (including one our children went to) are now condominiums or senior housing. The dairy farms now are an apartment village across from our street and Cherry Hill Farm (Hood Milk Co.) now is Cherry Hill Park, which has business & light industry. There is a mayor and city council (the city council was once the board of aldermen, but with women now the name changed.) The airport in the 60's and 70's had only small aircraft, but now the Hood blimp and Goodyear Blimp land there, and corporate jets as well have hangers there.

3. What do you like best about living in Beverly?
I like the beaches, such as Lynch Park (which always has a sea breeze, and has concerts in the summer), the area art galleries, and the easy access to Maine, N.H., and Boston museums.

4. What is one “must see or do” attraction for a tourist?
One important attraction is Lynch Park, known for two beaches, and its rose garden. It was once the home of the Evans' family where President Taft summered. It was deeded to the city by later owners, the Lynch sisters.

5. Do you know why the first settlers came to this area?
They came because of the easy access to the waterfront and fishing.

Timeline concerning Beverly
1630 - Site of Beverly is first settled.
1636- Harvard College is founded.
1668 - Beverly is given complete independence from Salem, and is admitted as a separate town.
1675 & 1676- King Philip’s War devastates many Massachusetts villages.
1692- Salem Witch Trials kill 20 people.
1730- The Great Awakening begins, unfortunately splitting the Protestant churches into many denominations.
1770- The British fire on rioting colonists, in a event later called the Boston Massacre.
1775- The first American ship, the Hannah is commissioned from Beverly during the Revolutionary War.