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, and for the Danvers State Hospital, one of the state's 19th century psychiatric hospitals. 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, settlers converted an existing Naumkeag trail into 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, 1657, however, the town was incorporated anyway, and the King's rebuff was defiantly given a place on the town's seal. The town was named for Danvers Osborn.
The historical event for which Danvers is probably most well-known is the witch hysteria of 1692. The house of one of the convicted "witches," Rebecca Nurse, is still standing in Danvers and can be visited as a historical landmark.
From the Battle of Lexington onward, Danvers has been represented 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 that were later converted to electricity.
The Town Hall was built in 1855 and, though it has undergone modifications and renovations several times, still stands today. 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.
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. There was also a booming shoe industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with successful manufacturing companies like Ideal Baby Shoe.
Chemical plant explosion
On November 22, 2006, around 2:45 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. According to many witnesses, it seemed like an airplane had crashed.
At least 10 people were taken to local hospitals. No one was killed, and none of the injuries were 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.
Before the end of the month, the State Fire Marshal determined the explosion was not caused by an intentional act. No cause has been determined.
Other current events
In 2002, Danvers celebrated its 250th anniversary with special events throughout the year.