The James Library Presents Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store with Author Anthony Sammarco

The original Jordan Marsh building in Boston, Massachusetts courtesy image – The James Library & Center for the Arts, Norwell’s historic community arts center and lending library, presents the literary lecture Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store on Thursday, November 21, 7 pm at 24 West Street, Norwell.  The event is sponsored by benefactors Axiom Architects and Joseph’s Garage of Norwell.

Anthony Sammarco, noted historian and author of more than 60 books, delves into the heritage and history of Boston’s first department store, Jordan Marsh. Founded in 1851 by Eben Dyer Jordan and Benjamin Lloyd Marsh, the first store opened selling linen, silk, calicos, ribbons and assorted dry goods to Victorian Bostonians. Following the Civil War, the store moved several times where in its new five story building, designed by Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherell, they unveiled the novel concept of “department shopping” under one roof.  From the late 19th century onward, Jordan Marsh offered a selection of goods including clothing, furniture, children’s toys and a plethora of others. Hallmarks of personal service, easy credit, art exhibitions, musical performances and The Enchanted Village of Saint Nicholas during the holiday season made the store a treasured part of life for shoppers. By the 1970’s it was the largest chain in New England. Many people mourned when Jordan Marsh was sold, and Macy’s occupied its stores in 1995.

Author Anthony Sammarco,
courtesy image

An author on topics related to Boston, Sammarco lectures widely on the history and development of his native city. He majored in history at the UMass Boston College of Liberal Arts.  Sammarco commenced writing in 1995, and his books The History of Howard Johnson’s: How A Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became a Roadside Icon, Dorchester and The Baker Chocolate Company:A Sweet History have made the bestsellers list. Boston’s Back Bay in the Victorian Era, Dorchester: Volume II, Dorchester Then & Now, Boston’s North End (and Il North End di Boston in Italian) and the Great Boston Fire of 1872, are among his perennially popular books.

Since 1997, Sammarco has taught history at the Urban College of Boston, where he was named educator of the year in 2003 and where he serves on the Leadership Council. His course “Boston’s Immigrants” was developed especially for the Urban College and its multicultural and diverse student base, and his book Boston’s Immigrants was written to highlight the diversity of the city and is used in his course.

Cover art for Anthony Sammarco’s Jordan Marsh title,
courtesy image

He has received the Bulfinch Award from the Doric Dames of the Massachusetts State House and the Washington Medal from Freedom Foundation and was named Dorchester town historian by Raymond L. Flynn, mayor of Boston, for his work in history.  He was elected a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, is a member of the Boston Author’s Club and is a proprietor of the Boston Athenaeum. In his volunteer work, he is a director of the Victorian Society, New England Chapter, and a trustee of the Forest Hills Cemetery Educational Trust. He is past president of the Bay State Historical League and the Dorchester Historical Society.

Tickets for Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store are $20 adults, $10 for students. For more information or to order tickets, please call 781-659-7100, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the James Library & Center for the Arts

Since 1874, The James Library has served the South Shore community as a warm gathering place.  Housed in a landmark Victorian in historical Norwell Center, The James is dedicated to serving the community by providing high-quality programs, resources and materials through a concert hall, art gallery and the operation of a free lending library. As an independent, non-profit arts center we foster a mission for the creation, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts for residents of all ages on the South Shore, while preserving the historic character of our home.  The James Library is located at 24 West Street, Norwell and is open to the public Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 5 pm, Thursday and Friday from 12 to 5, and on Saturday from 10 to 2 pm.  The library is closed on Saturdays during July and August.  For more information, please call 781-659-7100, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.