About \\ Historic Houses

Plummer Hall

Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of Plummer Hall:

An antebellum jewel of PEM’s collection, Plummer Hall, located at 132 Essex Street in Salem, was designed by Enoch Fuller in 1856. The Italianate-style building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In this audio postcard, we will check in with hip hop group STL GLD as they collaborate on songwriting inside Plummer Hall. It’s part of PEM Presents, a new performance series that brings performers to create in PEM’s unparalleled architecture collection.

Plummer Hall was built in the style of an Italianate villa as the headquarters for the Salem Athenaeum, a private proprietary library. The second floor, a piano nobile, is an elaborate open space, surrounded by an elegant mezzanine. When acquired by the Essex Institute in 1906, the Great Hall functioned as stacks and reading areas for the museum’s research library.

The Hall also contains three spaces encased behind glass known as the Dow rooms. These spaces represent the 17th and 18th century rooms the way that then curator George Francis Down envisioned them when installed in 1910 to 1912.

The Phillips Library collection, which was originally housed here, includes several hundred thousand printed volumes, a linear mile of manuscript collections, as well as thousands of logbooks, account books, diaries, printed ephemera, maps, photo albums and photographs. To improve the standards of care and preservation for the collection, the library materials and reading room are now at the PEM Collection Center in Rowley, Massachusetts.

An old photograph of The Reading Room in Plummer Hall

Since 2014, PEM has been steadily renovating this historic structure. While work is underway, its incredible acoustics make the building ideal for performances.

A member of Hip hop group STL GLD recently spent three days writing and recording a new song in Plummer Hall.

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Hip hop group STL GLD recently spent three days writing and recording a new song in Plummer Hall. Presented by GenPEM and the Present Tense Initiative, a documentary style film featuring the group’s process was released in July 2021. Read more about it on our blog, Connected.

Photo shoot in Plummer Hall of STL GLD