If someone asked you,“ Name three important historic towns in America,” you might instantly respond “Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City” in no particular order. But, if they asked you, “Now, name three important historic towns in southern New Jersey,” you might not respond as quickly. If one of your answers was Salem, New Jersey, you would be correct.
Salem, New Jersey was a very important port town, known for ship building and trade with various countries. Settled in 1675 by Quaker John Fenwick, it pre-dates the settlement of Philadelphia by eight years.
In an effort to bring awareness to this early vital trade center, an annual Yuletide Tour and open house in Salem features a number of festively decorated residences and public spaces. Styles run the gamut from earliest colonial to exuberant Victorian. What I like in particular about this house tour is the authenticity of the homes and interaction with the owners who are willing to share information about the original owners or their personal antiques collections. For example, Ron Wohlrab is extremely generous with his time and explanations of his admirable clock collection. The Schneemans own the lovely Barrett’s Plantation Bed & Breakfast, oldest portion dating to 1735. The Royal Port Antiques Center on the river is not to be missed. And, would you believe, the Presbyterian Church has an original Tiffany stained glass window?
The tour runs the first Saturday in December, from 1-6. Tickets can be ordered in advance. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Find a babysitter for the children for this tour. There is a lot of ground to cover, both walking and driving. Besides, you will enjoy this respite during the busy holiday season.
Barrett's Plantation House Bed & Breakfast
Re-enactors at the Swedish log cabin fire off a canon on the hour.
Lovely detail of a Victorian home.
Tiffany window at the Presbyterian Church.