This public space positioned between Essex and Front Streets contains the most
historically significant municipal building: Salem Old Town Hall. Its convenient, central
location sets it apart from all other points of interest as it is seemingly accessible from
most of downtown Salem.
The square is associated with the prominent 17th and 18th century Derby family for whom
it and several other historic sites across the City are named. Old Town Hall contains
architectural elements of both the influential Boston architect Charles Bulfinch and
Salem’s own Samuel McIntire. The building contained Town Offices until 1837. The
one-time public market on the first floor is now used as a public art space that is also
home to the Salem Arts Festival.
The structure was nearly lost, but was luckily left in tact after work by preservation
architect Philip Horton Smith in the 1930s saved it from demolition. It received partial
restoration in the 1970s, and continued maintenance in the subsequent decades.
The outdoor area encroaching Old Town Hall is filled in warmer months every Thursday
as people flock to the Salem Farmers’ Market that bring together farms, seafood, spices
and sweets and much more throughout summer and fall. Visitors can sit on park benches,
tables, and chairs in the welcoming, open space that is seemingly covered with red brick
from top to bottom.
The square is also adjacent to Artists Row, the shops of Front Street, and the Essex Street
Pedestrian Mall making it a must-see destination for history buffs and creative alike.
Recently, Wicked Good Books opened at the top of the square on the Essex Street
Pedestrian Mall, and will build on the four-decade tradition of its predecessor and its
owners, Derby Square Books and the Monroe family.