Tabernacle Church, Washington and Federal Sts., Salem

Established in 1735 as a branch of the First Church, and calling itself "The First Church of Salem," Tabernacle Church built a meeting house in 1736 near 256 Essex St. Until 1762, Salem thus had two churches calling themselves, First Church. At that time, the government required the church that separated to change its name, so it became Third Church of Christ in Salem. When that house of worship was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1774, a new building was erected in 1777 that resembled London's Tabernacle, and soon was referred to as The Tabernacle. Eventually the church took this as its legal name. One of the most orthodox congregations in Hawthorne's time, it was led by Dr. Samuel Worcester (1770-1821), who was installed as minister in 1803 and who was one of the leading voices of the conservative view in New England. His sermons were highly regarded; Leverett Saltonstall, a leading Unitarian lawyer in Salem, admired them because of their mixture of emotion and reason, even though he was aware that Worcester was a strict calvinist. In 1924 the Tabernacle Church merged with South Church, and the current Colonial Revival building was constructed, replacing a large wooden Italian Revival building which was the home of the Tabernacle Church from 1854 until it was demolished in 1922. From 1776 to 1854, the building that stood on this ground was occupied by the Tabernacle Church and in 1805 featured a three-stage tower added by Samuel McIntire. This is the building that Hawthorne would have known.
(courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.) close window