At Peabody’s 160-year-old library, you’ll find not only books and a vibrant makerspace, but also treasures of the art world, such as rare Audubon prints, on display. A fleet of food trucks from around New England will be rolling into town this May. And a pop-up pub and café have enlivened downtown with beer, coffee, and pastry, and outdoor activity, making Peabody a wonderful combination of the historic and the contemporary. This year will shine a light on that character, as the small city celebrates the centennial of its 1916 incorporation, while continuing to revamp its downtown and bring a new modernity and vibrancy to its streets.
“Peabody has a renewed focus on itself. That change is palpable,” says Deanne M. Healey, IOM, president and CEO of the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce. “More organizations are working together for a common goal. We’re trying to take advantage of partnerships and playing off each other’s strengths.”
That renewed focus is evident in the city’s continued work with its Main Street realignment project, which is slated to be completed this year and aims to make the street safer and more user friendly for both pedestrians and drivers. After reducing the number of driving lanes from four to two, the city will next move its Soldiers and Sailors Civil War monument closer to the courthouse and create a four-way intersection, as well as outdoor plazas, Healey says.
“It’s safer, it feels more comfortable,” Joan Morrissey of the Peabody Down Town Association says of the changes. “It feels more like home. It’s such a comfortable, homey, community feel.”
The appreciation of both old and new is also evident in Peabody’s plans for its centennial celebration. Dubbed “Peabody 100,” the festivities will kick off May 15 with a Food Truck Festival at the historic Brooksby Farm, and continue with a Stars and Stripes Summer concert on July 23, and a centennial parade on October 2. The events will continue into 2017, with a centennial birthday party at City Hall on January 2 and a grand ball at the Northshore Mall on May 7.
As Peabody residents prepare for their year-long centennial celebration, there’s plenty to do and see in the meantime. One of the city’s hidden gems is certainly the Peabody Institute Library, which has renovated much of its interior over the past several years.
“I think they might be really surprised if they stop into the library,” says library director Martha Holden. “It’s a comfortable, inviting space, and it’s loaded with little treasures, little things you might not expect in a public library.”
For instance, the library has a prized and rare set of 435 of John James Audubon’s elephant folio prints. The library displays them a few at a time, and is in the process of restoring them.
“They’re life-sized images of every species of bird in America that he identified,” Holden says. “It’s very rare.”
Other pieces of art and historical artifacts also pepper the library, but it boasts modern treasures, too, including the Creative Lab, which is a “fully functioning makerspace,” says Holden, complete with 3D printers, a milling machine, and other creative tools, plus a host of educational programs like woodworking classes, sewing and knitting classes, and 3D printing classes, among many others.
A pop-up parklet—an enclosed, outdoor, mini park—will also return this year after the success of pop-ups like a café in September and Sam Adams-sponsored pub in October.
“We’re right now talking about ways to utilize that parklet in a more strategic way,” says Healey, including outdoor dining on evenings and weekends. She says that some of the businesses downtown stayed open later and also saw increased business because of the parklet.
It all adds up to a city that continues to feel excitement about its past and future. “I love this city,” says Morrissey. “It’s just a great range of people, and there are a lot of people who want to support this community.”
Items for Your Peabody Itinerary
Toscana’s Ristorante is a family spot with authentic, homemade Italian cuisine. 3 Bourbon St., 978-535-0731, toscanaspeabody.com.
Enjoy live entertainment, American fare, and a great beer, wine, and cocktail list at Stonewood Tavern Peabody. 139 Lynnfield St., 978-531-5311, stonewoodtavernpeabody.com.
The Elizabeth Cassidy Folk Art Museum features pieces from the Peabody Historical Society’s extensive collection of folk art. 35 Washington St., 978-531-0805, peabodyhistorical.org.
Indulge in hand-tossed, thin-crust pizza at Plum Tomatoes Brick Oven Pizza. 145 Summit St., 978 538-7586, plumtomatoespizza.com.
Brooksby Farm boasts pick-your-own fruits and veggies, animals to visit, extensive trails, events and more. 54 Felton St., 978-531-7456, brooksbyfarm.org.
Check out more than books at the Peabody Institute Library, which is also home to artistic treasures and a community makerspace. 82 Main St., 978-531-0100, peabodylibrary.org.
Find art classes and handmade pieces for sale by local artists and craftspeople at the ArcWorks Community Art Center and Gallery Shop. 22 Foster St., 978-624-3057 arcworksart.org/communityArtCenter.
Grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the recently opened Mike & Lill’s Black Sheep Pub & Grill. 5 Central St., 978-854-6780, mikeandlillsblacksheep.com.
Enjoy a cozy breakfast and brunch at the Peabody Diner. 10 Margin St., 978-854-5800.
Find top-notch Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine at Sugar Cane. 106 Main St., 978-532-7800, sugarcanepeabody.com.
Find sushi for all tastes, bento boxes, and more at Maki Sushi Bar & Grill. 43 Main St., 978-854-5426, makisushibar.net.
Petrillo’s Restaurant is a family-owned, Peabody favorite serving homemade Tuscan fare. 6 Foster St., 978-977-5330, petrillosrestaurant.com.
The Northshore Mall boasts high-end shops plus dining spots like Burtons Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Legal Sea Foods, P.F. Chang’s, and Joe’s American Bar & Grill. 210 Andover St., 978-531-3440, simon.com/mall/northshore-mall.
Shop for custom-made invitations, gifts, art glass, and more at A Small Creation & Boutique. 215 Newbury St., 978-532-7874, asmallcreation.com.
Ride, run, or walk eight miles through Peabody’s streets and green space on the Independence Greenway bike path and rail trail. North Shore Mall trailhead near 1 Essex Center Dr.
Hit the links at the 18-hole, city-operated The Meadow at Peabody. 80 Granite St., 978-532-9390, peabodymeadowgolf.com.
Subs and sandwiches are the specialty at Santoro’s of Peabody. 41 Main St., 978-532-2791, santoros.com.
Get a delicious breakfast at The Little Depot Diner, a Peabody institution. 1 Railroad Ave., 978-977-7775, thelittledepotdiner.com.
The historic homes, buildings, and collections of the Peabody Historical Society & Museum provide a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history, including the Nathaniel Felton Senior and Junior Houses and the Gideon Foster House. 978-531-0805, peabodyhistorical.org.
The half-century-old Wardhurst Restaurant & Bar continues to welcome visitors with great food and atmosphere. 31 Lynnfield St., 978-531-9730, thewardhurst.com.
Indulge in roast beef sandwiches, lobster rolls, seafood dinners, burgers, and more at Land ‘n Sea Restaurant. 67 Lynnfield St., 978-548-6177, landnsearestaurant.com.
Shop for new and used luxury vehicles Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, which has locations throughout Peabody and beyond. BMW of Peabody is one five Peabody locations at 221 Andover St., 877-530-0807, bmwpeabody.com, lyonwaugh.com.
Fine dining at Pellana Prime Steakhouse means excellent steak, chips, wines, and seafood. 9 Rear Sylvan St., 978-531-4800, pellanarestaurant.com.
Stock up on authentic, handmade German sausage, as well as imported grocery items, beer, wine, and more at Karl’s Sausage Kitchen and European Market. 1 Bourbon St., 978-854-6650, karlssausage.com.
Trust Skin Deep Laser Services to provide safe, non-invasive treatments for sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles, rosacea, large pores, uneven skin texture, acne, and excess hair. 205 Andover St., 978-716-2877, skindeep-ma.com.
Find gorgeous, high-quality furniture and rugs, plus services like rug cleaning and repair and custom furniture, at BONS-winning Manzel Furniture & Rugs. 202 Newbury St., 978) 826-5605, manzelinc.com.
Settle into a booth at Red’s Kitchen + Tavern for delicious American fare, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 131 Newbury St., 978-531-7337, redskitchenandtavern.com.
Date of settlement: 1626
Date of incorporation: 1855
Area: 16.8 sq. miles
ZIP code: 01960
Median household income: $65,515
Public schools: Brown Elementary, Burke Elementary, Carroll Elementary, Center Elementary, McCarthy Elementary, South Elementary, Welch Elementary, West Elementary, Higgins Middle School, Veterans Memorial High School
Notable residents: Business executive Jack Welch; MLB player Jeff Allison; Olympic swimmer Samantha Arsenault; early American astronomer, mathematician, and navigator Nathaniel Bowditch; Salem witch hysteria victims Giles Corey, Martha Corey, and John Proctor; Peabody’s namesake, businessman, and philanthropist George Peabody