Portrait, Eliza Dustin Sutton, circa 1865

When Lavinia P. Osborne died in 1867, she left the South Danvers Ladies’ Benevolent Society $2,000 for “the purpose of founding a permanent home for the Old Ladies in Peabody.”

Eliza Dustin Sutton, a leading member of the Benevolent Society, formed the Charitable Tenement Association to put Lavinia’s bequest into action. In 1871, the Association built a house near the intersection of Washington and Oak Street.

The General William Sutton Estate, Main Street, 1897

By 1884, the Association had settled into the larger General William Sutton Estate on Main Street, near Aborn Street. General William Sutton was Eliza’s brother-in-law, and he had died in 1882.

When Eliza Sutton died in 1889, she left the organization $5,000, on the condition the home would be called the Sutton Home for Aged Women.

The Proctor Estate, 7 Sewall St, circa 1940

In 1919, the Sutton Home for Aged Women was in the thick of tenements and factory buildings. Part of the appeal of the Sutton Home was a place women could find peace, solitude, and outside space during their later years. The organization went looking for its final location.

Abel Proctor built his home at 7 Sewall Street in 1830. It remains a beautiful Federal Style mansion on ¾ acre of land. Sewall Street is a side street off Washington Street, and the grand home was a little oasis in the urban landscape. Abel Proctor was one of the first successful tanners to build his home in the Washington Street District. In 1825, the Proctor Tannery had 60 vats for leather processing. By 1870, they had over 200 vats and tanned 15,000 hides annually. Abel Proctor lived at the home with his daughter Lydia W. Thacher and her husband. Mrs. Thacher was active in the affairs of the Sutton Home for Aged Women, acting as the President of its Board of Management in 1900.

In 1919, the Sutton Home sold the Main Street property and purchased the Proctor Estate, where is remains today. The Sutton Home for Women still exists, providing kind and compassionate care for older women.

For more information, visit their website here.

Record of Donations made to the Sutton Home for Aged Women, March 1937


Sutton Home for Aged Women, Winter 1945



Frank Damon. “General Sutton’s Home.” The Salem Evening News, July 9, 1926.

Peabody Community Development. National Historic District Application for Washington Street Historic District, 1985, pages 1-40.

Peabody Historical Society and Museum Research Files, compiled by Anna Castleman, Barbara Doucette and Heather Leavell, 2010.

S.M. Smoller. Biographical Sketch of Eliza Dustin Sutton, March 1998.

S. M. Smoller. “Benevolent society born on day of love.” The Salem News. February 2000.

John Wells. The Peabody Story. Essex Institute, 1972, pages 339-340.

John Wells. MACRIS listing, 7 Sewall Street (Abel Proctor), 1978.