You may recall that there is an on-going project with the restoration of the Gray Block
, the 1891 building on the northwest corner of State and Liberty, and home to Salem institution and bar, "The Brick."
The name, "The Brick," has always seemed something of a mystery. Perhaps if you are a regular, you will know more about this. From the outside, the name has seemed random and untethered from any historical or social fact. Could it really refer only to the brick veneer applied to the columns and base below the windows? There had to be more behind the name!
So it was very interesting to learn about a store across the street in the 19-teens.
Brick Bros. and "Brick's Corner" occupied a building demolished a decade later for the Livesley Tower
across the street on the southwest corner of the intersection.
So here's a hypothesis, what might just be wishful thinking and coincidence, or maybe something more durable: The word "Brick" became identified with this intersection, even when people forgot about the reason why, and the current bar name represents a survival and vestigial memory of that place name.
Without committing ourselves to asserting this is the truth, let's just accept it provisionally and tentatively, and venture a little in the history as if it were true. Even if Brick's Corner did not give its name to the bar, it's an odd and interesting story and worth sketching out. That story, in fact, turns out to connect with an huge scandal from a century ago, and might be the most interesting part. (If we learn one way or the other on the origins of the bar's name, we'll update and revise as appropriate!)
In the early 1910s there was a store called The Plymouth at this location. Benjamin Brick came to manage it, and in 1914 there was a bit of a tussle over ownership and management.