Irish History from the Phillips House in Salem, MA


During the early 20th century, the Phillips family employed a number of Irish servants at their home on Chestnut Street. Like many servants at the time, most of the servants the Phillipses hired were young, white, single females who were either immigrants themselves or first generation Americans.

By 1919, the Phillips House servant quarters were home to three Irish women and a couple of Irish men. The women lived in the servants’ quarters, located on the third floor of the family’s home, while the men lived off the property often with their own wives and families.

The women often took on roles within the home, sometimes caring for children as was the case for Catherine Shaughnessy who was a nursemaid to Stephen Phillips. As Stephen eventually moved out of the home to attend boarding school, Catherine, or “Catty,” continued to work for the Phillips family for 52 years as an assistant and maid.

Men at the Phillips House performed roles outside the home, as was the case for Patrick O’Hara who served as the family’s chauffeur. Patrick was responsible for not only driving the Phillips’ family vehicle but also for its care and upkeep.

The Phillips House today is the only historic home on Chestnut Street that is open to the public. Visit historicnewengland.org for updates on visiting the Phillips House during their open season of June-October.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with live music, traditional corned beef dinners, and more throughout downtown Salem, Wednesday, March 17. Check the events calendar for special events, and find St. Patrick’s Day specials at Turner’s Seafood, the Salem Waterfront Hotel, and the Hawthorne Hotel.


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