Samuel McIntire

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Samuel McIntire, c. 1786, pastel portrait attributed to Benjamin Blyth

Samuel McIntire (January 16, 1757 – February 6, 1811) was an American architect and craftsman, best known for the Chestnut Street District, a classic example of Federal style architecture. Born in Salem, Massachusetts to housewright Joseph McIntire and Sarah (Ruck), he was a woodcarver by trade who grew into the practice of architecture. He married Elizabeth Field on October 10, 1778, and had one son. He built a simple home and workshop on Summer Street in 1786.

Starting about 1780, McIntire was hired by Salem's pre-eminent merchant and America's first millionaire, Elias Hasket Derby, for whose extended family he built or remodeled a series of houses. McIntire taught himself the Palladian style of architecture from books, and soon had a reputation among the city's elite for designing elegant homes. In 1792, he entered a proposal in the competition for the United States Capitol.

After 1797, McIntire worked in the style of Boston architect Charles Bulfinch, who had made fashionable here the [1] neoclassical manner of Scottish architect Robert Adam. Unlike Bulfinch, however, whose designs were featured across the East Coast, McIntire built almost exclusively in New England. His wooden or brick houses were typically 3 stories tall, each with 4 rooms around a central hall. In 1799, he went into business with his brothers, Joseph and Angier McIntire, who erected the structures, while at the workshop he oversaw various ornamentations, including the swags, rosettes, garlands and sheaves of wheat which dominate their interior wooden surfaces. McIntire's Salem works include the Peirce-Nichols, the Peabody-Silsbee, the Gardner-White-Pingree, and the Elias Haskett Derby residences. His public buildings, all in Salem, are Assembly Hall, Hamilton Hall, Washington Hall and the courthouse (the latter 2 demolished).

He was a skilled artisan, especially in furniture, and his skill extended to sculpting. Among his works are busts of Voltaire and John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. Both are now owned by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. [2][3]

McIntire's grave is in the Burying Point Cemetery, Salem, where his epitaph reads:

In Memory of Mr. Samuel McIntire who died Feb. 6, 1811, Æt. 54. He was distinguished for Genius in Architecture, Sculpture, and Musick: Modest and sweet Manners rendered him pleasing: Industry, and Integrity respectable: He professed the Religion of Jesus in his entrance on manly life; and proved its excellence by virtuous Principle and unblemished conduct.

Samuel McIntire Historic District[edit]

In 1981, Salem created the Samuel McIntire Historic District. Containing 407 buildings, it is the city's largest and this district is the location of the largest collection of homes from this colonial period in all of America. Samuel McIntire house and workshop was located on Summer Street, at the intersection of Chestnut Street where many grand mansions designed by Samuel McIntire display the profits of the Old China Trade these streets display the roots of the Colonial history of the United States in what is now the Samuel McIntire Historic District, which is considered to represent the greatest concentration of 17th and 18th century domestic structures anywhere in America.[citation needed] It includes McIntire commissions such as the Peirce-Nichols House and Hamilton Hall. The Witch House or Jonathan Corwin House (circa 1642) is also located in the District. Samuel McIntire's house was located at 31 Summer Street in what is now the Samuel McIntire Historic District.

World Record for Federal furniture[edit]

In 2011, a mahogany side chair with carving attributed to Samuel McIntire sold at auction for $662,500,[4] which set a world record for Federal furniture. The chair was one of a set of eight chairs originally purchased by Elias Hasket Derby, Salem's wealthiest merchant and thought to be America's first millionaire, and his wife, Elizabeth Crowninshield. The set was hand-made and hand-carved in the late 18th century.[5]


Located in the Samuel McIntire Historic District, Chestnut Street District on one of the most historic streets in America at 34 Chestnut Street by Samuel McIntire (1800), Salem, Massachusetts.
Located on one of the most historic streets in America at 9 Chestnut Street in the Samuel McIntire Historic District, Chestnut Street District by Samuel McIntire (1805), Salem, Massachusetts
The Peirce-Nichols House (1782) is located on one of the most historic streets in America at 80 Federal Street in the Samuel McIntire Historic District, Chestnut Street District, Salem, Massachusetts. It is now owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, which periodically conducts tours of the house.
The Benjamin Hawkes House, by Samuel McIntire (1780, 1800) is Located in the Derby Wharf Historic District on Derby Wharf in Salem, Massachusetts




Cousins, Frank, and Phil Madison Riley. The Woodcarver of Salem: Samuel McIntire, His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1916

Lahikainen, Dean T. Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style. Salem, Massachusetts: Peabody Essex Museum, 2007

External links[edit]

Established in 1981, this district incorporates two previously established districts, the Chestnut Street District (1971) and the Federal Street Area Historic District (1976), with the addition of some 249 structures on upper Essex, Broad, and Warren Streets, Dalton Parkway, and various cross and side streets in between.

The district is named for Salem's celebrated architect-carver, Samuel McIntire, who lived at 31 Summer Street. His first major commission, the Peirce-Nichols House (1782), and several of his mature works including Hamilton Hall (1805), are among the buildings preserved within the district.

This densely settled residential area of the city contains one of the greatest concentrations of notable pre-1900 domestic structures extant in the U.S. With few exceptions, the major architectural styles common to the region during the 1640-1940 period are represented. Of particular interest are the numerous Federal Era townhouses lining Chestnut Street. Collectively, they stand as a monument to the mercantile and maritime ascendancy of Salem in the latter 18th and early 19th centuries and constitute one of the most beautiful streetscapes in America.

The district also includes three churches, the Broad Street Burial Ground (1655) and Friends' Cemetery, several monuments, and the first Salem State Normal School Building (1854).

Interactive Tour of McIntire's Salem Take an interactive journey through historic Salem, Massachusetts to visit the distinctive buildings designed by Samuel McIntire. An 1820s map will be your guide to explore private and public buildings, architectural drawings, elaborate interior carvings and furniture, all part of this unique tour. This map is provided by the oldest museum in America, located in Salem and opened since 1799, the Peabody Essex Museum is the largest owner of homes designed by McIntire.


  1. ^ [1] Metropolitan Museum of Art Samuel McIntire Chair, This vase-back chair, originally part of a large set, was made for the wealthy Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby. The chair's overall design is based on plate 2 of George Hepplewhite's Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide (London, 1788), but it has been enriched considerably by the addition of relief carving to parts of the back and the front legs. The carved grape clusters in the lunette at the base of the splat and suspended from bowknots at the top of each leg are a motif traditionally associated with the work of Salem's renowned architect and carver Samuel McIntire, who also was responsible for designing Elias Hasket Derby's spectacular Neoclassical mansion in Salem, completed in 1794.
  2. ^ [2] National Park Service ArchitecturL Walking Trail in the Samuel McIntire Historic District
  3. ^ [3] Peabody Essex Museum, A Samuel McIntire exhibit
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Phillips Library "McIntire Papers"
  7. ^ Essex County Registry of Deeds, Book 160 Pages 181 - 183