Danvers is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, located on the Danvers River near the northeastern coast of Massachusetts. Originally known as Salem Village, the town is most widely known for its association with the 1692 Salem witch trials. It is also known for the Danvers State Hospital, one of the state's 19th-century psychiatric hospitals, which was located here. As of the 2010 census, the town's population was 26,493.
The land that is now Danvers was once controlled by the Naumkeag branch of the Massachusett tribe.
Around 1630, English colonists improved an existing Naumkeag trail as the Old Ipswich Road, creating a connection to the main cities of Salem and Boston. Danvers was permanently settled in 1636 as Salem Village, and eventually petitioned the Crown for a charter as a town. According to legend, the King, rather than signing the charter, returned it with the message "The King Unwilling." On June 9, 1757, the town was incorporated anyway. It put the King's rebuff on the town's seal. In 1752, the town was named for settler Danvers Osborn.
The historical event for which Danvers is probably most well-known is the Salem witch trials of 1692. Resident Rebecca Nurse was convicted in a trial for witchcraft. The Rebecca Nurse Homestead is still standing in Danvers. It can be visited as a historical landmark.
From the Battle of Lexington onward, Danvers residents have participated in the armed forces. Noteworthy Revolutionary figures who stayed in Danvers include Royal Governor General Thomas Gage and Benedict Arnold.
In 1847, the railroad came to Danvers. A street railway was installed in 1884, originally consisting of 69 horse-drawn trolleys. This system was later converted to electricity.
The Town Hall was built in 1855. It has been modified and renovated and is still in use. In the same year, the southern portion of Danvers broke away to become the town of South Danvers, later renamed Peabody.
In 1878, the Danvers State Hospital opened its doors. It was an institution to provide asylum and treatment for the mentally ill.
Originally an agricultural town, Danvers farmers developed two breeds of vegetables: the Danvers Onion (origin of the "Oniontown" nickname) and the Danvers Half-Long Carrot. This carrot was introduced by "market gardeners" in 1871.
Shoe manufacturing was a prominent industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Successful manufacturing companies like Ideal Baby Shoe. Local shoe companies were undercut in price by factories in other areas, and shoe manufacturing moved out.
Chemical plant explosion
On November 22, 2006, around 2:46 a.m., a major chemical explosion occurred at a facility housing Arnel Company (a manufacturer of industrial-use paint products) and CAI Inc. (a manufacturer of solvents and inks). The blast shook several North Shore towns—knocking homes off foundations and damaging buildings up to half a mile away. Glass windows shattered at least away, in neighboring Peabody and even in downtown Salem. The explosion was heard and felt up to away; the concussion was intense.
No one was killed, and none of the injuries was life-threatening, according to Fire Chief Jim Tutko. Approximately 90 homes were damaged. Residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the blast were taken to Danvers High School, where the Red Cross established a relief shelter. The blast occurred next to a marina, a bakery/pizza shop, and a gas station, and across the street from Eastern Propane Gas.
A May 13, 2008 report from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board attributed the explosion to unintentional overnight heating of an ink-mixing tank containing flammable solvents.