Peirce-Nichols House

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Peirce-Nichols House
Peirce-Nichols House.jpg
Peirce-Nichols House is located in Massachusetts
Peirce-Nichols House
Peirce-Nichols House is located in the US
Peirce-Nichols House
Location Salem, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°31′22″N 70°54′0″W / 42.52278°N 70.90000°W / 42.52278; -70.90000Coordinates: 42°31′22″N 70°54′0″W / 42.52278°N 70.90000°W / 42.52278; -70.90000
Built 1782
Architect McIntire,Samuel
Architectural style Georgian, Federalist
Part of Chestnut Street District (#73000312)
NRHP Reference # 68000041[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 24, 1968
Designated NHL November 24, 1968
Designated CP August 28, 1973

The Peirce-Nichols House is a historic house museum located at 80 Federal Street in Salem, Massachusetts. Designed early in the career of noted Salem builder Samuel McIntire (1757–1811), and modified later by him, the building gives a unique view into the methods styles of McIntire. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973 for its significance as an early masterwork of one the country's first recognized master builders. It is now owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, which offers guided tours.


In about 1782, McIntire designed and built this house for Jerathmiel Peirce, a leatherworker turned merchant known in part for his part-ownership of the merchant ship Friendship,[2] who had purchased the land in 1779. The property he owned went all the way to the banks of the North River, where his ships tied up and he had a counting house. The house is known to have been completed by 1784, when city tax records show Peirce being assessed for a completed house. Peirce later suffered financial misfortune and was forced to sell the house. It was purchased by friends, who willed it to the children of George and Sally (Peirce) Nichols. The house remained in the Nichols family until 1917, when it was sold to the Essex Institute,[3] predecessor to the Peabody Essex Museum. It was opened to the public in the late 1930s after the last of the Nichols owners died.

McIntire patterned the design of the house fairly closely on patterns found in the Builder's Treasury of Batty Langley, published in 1740. As a result the house has late Georgian styling.[4] This was altered in some portions in 1801, when Peirce again hired McIntire to redo the hallway east parlor in preparation for the wedding of his daughter Sally to George Nichols. This area features the lighter Federal styling that was being popularized by architect Charles Bulfinch.[3]

View from the side (HABS photo, 1940)

The house property was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968,[1] cited as a particularly elegant example of late Georgian craftsmanship, and for its association with McIntire.[4] It is also a contributing element of Salem's Chestnut Street District.[3] The Peabody Essex Museum offers tours of the house.


The Peirce-Nichols House is a three-story wood-frame building sheathed in clapboards. It has a low pitch hipped roof that is encircled by a low balustrade at the cornice, which further has a central flat section that functions as a roof deck and is also surrounded by a balustrade. The corners of the building are decorated by fluted Doric pilasters rising the height of the building. The front entry is in the center bay (of five), and is sheltered by a pedimented porch supported by Doric columns set on a brownstone step. Large twin chimneys rise through the interior of the house. The windows on the first two floors feature 6 over 6 sashes, while the third floor has typical foreshortened 3 over 6 sashes.[3]

Behind the house is a carriage house which is thought to date from the same time as the house. Its symmetrical front facade is divided into three sections, the center one featuring a projecting triangular pediment. The flanking sections are also pedimented, and are punctuated by round arched openings topped by keystones.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Friendship of Salem" (PDF). National Park Service. 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "MACRIS inventory record for Peirce-Nichols House". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  4. ^ a b "NRHP nomination for Peirce-Nichols House" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 

External links[edit]