The Essex Block Neighborhood is the center of the museum’s architectural collection. Three centuries of extraordinary New England architecture, set in Federal-style gardens, may be found within this one city block.
Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop:
The Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop is in a small structure known as a ten-footer. These ten-footers were common on the North Shore, a center for shoemaking in the 19th-century. Here, shoes were made by hand. PEM retains an extensive collection of the building’s original contents, including many shoe-making tools and materials.
Very few ten-footers survive today. These shops provided shoes and other leather goods for the pedestrian, agricultural and maritime trades in the days just before the huge factories came in the Industrial revolution. They were noted as small, local centers for news and gossip. This small structure is the only industry related structure in PEM’s architecture collection. It’s significant for its connection to the industries that supported Salem’s success in the international maritime trade. Recent historical analysis confirms that this is the original shoe shop listed in historical records in 1783. The Shoe Shop was originally located in Lynn, MA. After descending through several generations, it was bequeathed to the Essex Institute in 1911 and moved to its current site.
PEM Walks host Dinah Cardin with Steven Mallory, Manager of Historic Structures and Landscapes, in front of the Tapley Shoe Shop. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.