Lyceum Hall – Salem, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Salem, Massachusetts

Lyceum Hall

The lecture hall where Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the long-distance phone call. 

The first long-distance phone call demonstrated to the public was made from Lyceum Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, by inventor Alexander Graham Bell. On February 12, 1877, to universal astonishment, Professor Bell sent a call to his assistant, Watson, who was waiting in Boston.

This historic event took place during a lecture that Bell was giving about the telephone at Lyceum Hall. After this initial success, he took the lecture to other locations in America and Europe.

Lyceums halls were introduced to New England in the early 1800s, inspired by the lecture halls found in Europe. Within a decade of their introduction over 3,000 Lyceums had been built in the U.S. Before movies, radio, and other modern entertainment, they offered respectable entertainment with educational benefits. The halls put on a variety of programming, including debates, musical entertainment, and oral readings. After the Civil War, Vaudeville began in Lyceum halls, as did many suffragette meetings.

The Salem Lyceum, like everything in Salem, cannot extradite itself from the infamous witch trials. It was built over the orchard owned by the famous Bridget Bishop. Many claim that the hall is haunted and it has been featured on several paranormal shows including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

There is a bronze plaque commemorating Bell’s historic phone call on the front of the building to the right of the entrance.

Know Before You Go

The building is currently occupied by Turner's Seafood. The plaque is on the front of the building to the right of the restaurant's entrance. Metered on-street parking is available, and there is a surface lot on Church Street. There is also a parking garage one block away at 1 New Liberty Street.

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