|Our Lord at St. Joseph's Church building|
A peninsula named by the local Native American Indians as "Long Point" is known today as the Point Neighborhood, yet the early European settlers to Salem, MA that harvested fish from the harbor also called the land mass "Stage Point"
The salt air tickles at my nose as I hurry along the narrow land mass that extends into Salem Harbor. Stage Point, a thriving peninsula, is freckled with the wooden framed stages used by the locals as fish drying racks. On my way to meet my husband, as his long hard day of labor is almost done at the sperm oil and candle factory in the Point along the harbor, I am hungry yet the multitude of inhibitants of the sea that now dry in the hot simmering sun makes my stomach churn. The peninsula that I was familiar with was to eventually undergo many transformations due to the increased needs for the factories and for the need for more homes to accommodate its workers. During the 19th and early 20th century many of the peninsula's shallow places were to be filled in and streets were to be laid out. And the land south of the river that once was reserved for farm fields and summer homes would eventually give way to industrialism in 1840 when the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company(Shetland Park) opened its first mill and provided homes and work for Salem's new immigrants until 1953.
The French-Canadians emigrated to Salem, MA in search of steady work and a steady income. Eventually, the people from Russia, Poland, and Greece found refuge in the point area too until by the mid 20th century an influx of newer immigrants became residents of the Point Neighborhood from Latin America countries. However, before our modern day point area was to become what is is today it was leveled in 1914 by the Great Salem Fire. As factories once outstripped the local homes; the rebuilding of a neighborhood was to see only two industrial facilities reborn - the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company and a small brick bakery building at Leavitt and Pingree Streets which now houses Harbor Sweets, a candy manufacturing company. Also, at one time there were two religious complexes in the neighborhood, a Methodist Episcopal church and the St. Joseph Roman Catholic parish - it was the latter that was to be revived by the residents of the Point for the residents and for the people. The Great Salem Fire not only reflected the resilience of a community it reflected the awareness for healthier and for safer homes that lined the narrow streets reconstructed with newer fire safety codes which minimized the older danger of the original inexpensive wood-framed dwellings that catered to the factory workers and their families; just as the House of the Lord catered to those same families who were seeking spiritual worship at St. Joseph's Church, yet now the edifice sits as an abandoned church that abandoned the souls of a community and is slated to be probably demolished not by nature like it once was because of a fire; demolished by man to make way for a new fate by our local politicians and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs that bought the site in 2005.