House of the Seven Gables

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House of the Seven Gables
Historic District
The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts. View of front and side.
House of the Seven Gables is located in Massachusetts
House of the Seven Gables
Location Salem, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°31′19″N 70°53′5″W / 42.52194°N 70.88472°W / 42.52194; -70.88472Coordinates: 42°31′19″N 70°53′5″W / 42.52194°N 70.88472°W / 42.52194; -70.88472
Built 1667
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Colonial, Georgian
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 73000323[1]
Added to NRHP May 8, 1973


The House of the Seven Gables (also known as the Turner House or Turner-Ingersoll Mansion) is a 1668 colonial mansion in Salem, Massachusetts, USA. The house is now a non-profit museum, with an admission fee charged for tours, as well as an active settlement house with programs for children. It was built for Captain John Turner, and it stayed with the family for three generations.[2] It was made famous by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. The house and its surrounding area are a National Historic Landmark District.

The house[edit]

Side view

The earliest section of the House of the Seven Gables was built in 1667 for Capt. John Turner. It remained in his family for three generations, descending from John Turner II to John Turner III. Facing south towards Salem Harbor, it was originally a two-room, 2 12-story house with cross-gables and a massive central chimney. This portion now forms the middle of the house. Four windows of the original ground-floor room (which became a dining room) remain in the house's side wall.

A few years later, a kitchen lean-to was added. In 1668, Turner added a spacious south (front) extension with its own chimney, containing a parlor on the ground floor, with a large bed chamber above it. Ceilings in this new wing are higher than the very low ceilings in older parts of the house. The new wing featured double casement windows and an overhang with carved pendants; it was capped with a three-gabled garret.

In 1692, John Turner II added a new north kitchen ell to the rear of the house (later removed but then restored in 1908–1910), as well as the famous "secret stairway" within the rebuilt main chimney. About 1725 he remodeled the house in the new Georgian style, adding wood paneling and sash windows. These alterations are preserved, very early examples of Georgian decor. Research at The House of the Seven Gables has shown that the kitchen ell, thought to have been added in 1692, was added in 1675; only a small brewing room addition was added in 1692. The House of the Seven Gables is the oldest surviving mansion house in continental North America, with 17 rooms and over 8,000 square feet (700 m2) including its large cellars.

Before 1908–1910 restoration
Same view in 1915

After John Turner III lost the family fortune, the house was acquired by the Ingersolls, who remodeled it again. Gables were removed, porches replaced, and Georgian trim added. Their relative Nathaniel Hawthorne, while growing up, was often entertained in the house by his cousin Susannah Ingersoll. By Hawthorne's time, the house had only three gables, but his cousin told him the house's history, and showed him beams and mortises in the attic indicating locations of former gables. Horace Ingersoll told Hawthorne a story of Acadian lovers that later inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 poem Evangeline.

Museum[edit]

In 1908, the house was purchased by Caroline O. Emmerton, founder of the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association, and she restored it from 1908 to 1910 as a museum whose admission fees would support the association. Boston architect Joseph Everett Chandler supervised the restoration, which among other alterations reconstructed missing gables. In some cases historical authenticity was sacrificed in the interest of appealing to visitors, who expected the house to match the one Hawthorne described in his romantic novel. Thus, for example, Emmerton added a "cent-shop" resembling that operated by the author's fictional character Hepzibah Pyncheon.[3]

She also added what looks like a wood closet but has a false back. When opened, the back leads to a secret staircase which leads up to the attic.

Many interesting features of the original mansion remain, including unusual forms of wall insulation, original beams and rafters, and extensive Georgian paneling.

The Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace is now immediately adjacent to the House of the Seven Gables, and also covered by the admission fee. Although it is indeed the house in which Hawthorne was born and lived to the age of four, the house was sited a few blocks away on Union Street when he inhabited it.

On March 29, 2007, the House of the Seven Gables Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark District.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ "House of Seven Gables Historic District". NPS.gov. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  3. ^ North Shore Community College. "Hawthorne in Salem: Images Related to the Turner-Ingersoll House, aka "The House of the Seven Gables"". Retrieved 2006-05-31. 
  4. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings: April 13, 2007". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Goodwin, Lorinda B. R. "Salem's House of Seven Gables as Historic Site." In Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory, edited by Dane Anthony Morrison and Nancy Lusignan Schultz. UPNE, 2005.

External links[edit]