The Joseph Story House in Salem, MA

The Joseph Story House is located in the heart of downtown Salem, Massachusetts near the Common. It was built in 1811 for Joseph Story, an accomplished lawyer, who that same year was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court at the age of 32.  He is most remembered for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee and The Amistad.  

image via Wikipedia

The house contains what may be among the last of the Samuel McIntyre carvings. Over the years it has been a dwelling where law, medicine, and exploration reached great heights.  In 1860, the house was sold to Dr. Amos Johnson who practiced medicine there until 1900.  Dr. Johnson is the great-grandfather of Ned Johnson of Fidelity acclaim. Dr. Johnson was one of the first doctor’s to practice preventative medicine and founded the Massachusetts Medico Legal Society.  In 1901 the house was sold to the Vaughn family – Norman Vaughn invented the white “nurse’s shoe sole.”  In the 1920’s the house was an attractive rooming house and among its occupants was Pulitzer Prize winning-author Katherine Ann Porter.


sketch by architect John Kelsey
The current homeowners purchased the home in 2006 and it underwent renovations involving several appearances before the Salem Historic Commission.  The new homeowners also under took the project of installing a complete geothermal energy system and attained Silver LEED Certification.  It is one of the first residences on the National Register to receive this coveted designation.
As the oldest and most historic home on the 2009 Salem Christmas Walk, The Joseph Story House received a great deal of attention.   

The Salem design firm of Wilson Kelsey Design, Inc. was commissioned to decorate the house for this festive event.  Sally Wilson took great care to design simple, but truly elegant decorations that complemented the home’s architecture.  Of particular interest is that Sally made all of the floral and decorative arrangements herself and added extra panache by installing a beautiful drapery in the main hall to create a focal point for guests entering the home. 

The home is alive with the presence of an active family who are honored to be the next stewards of this remarkable historic home. 


Photography except where noted is by Louise Michaud

My thanks to John Kelsey and Sally Wilson for sharing their project with us. You can visit their blog here.

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xoxo Linda

6 thoughts on “The Joseph Story House in Salem, MA”

  1. Just dropping by to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas
    and a big thank you for your friendship throughout the past year.
    From a very snowy UK
    Di (Designers Block)

  2. What a beautiful home!! Old homes are my very favorite, there is so much character and charm to them. New England old homes are just the best, there is nothing like them.

    Merry Christmas Linda!!

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