The House of Seven Gables, or the House of the Seven Gables, as it is also known, is one of the most famous homes in the United States. Found in the storied Massachusetts city of Salem, it was originally built in 1668 by Captain John Turner and later inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s eponymous 1851 novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The home was altered on more than one occasion over time, though it is still credited with being the oldest surviving mansion house in continental North America.
Nathaniel Hawthorne spent his fair share of time in the House of Seven Gables. The original owners, the Turner family, eventually sold the house to the Ingersoll family, who were relatives of the famous author. By the time Hawthorne set foot on the property, the home had been renovated and only had three gables. His cousin Susannah told him stories about the home’s history and even showed him where the former gables had been.
In 1908, the House of Seven Gables changed hands once again, becoming the property of Caroline O. Emmerton – a wealthy philanthropist who inherited a fortune from her grandfather. Emmerton restored the home and then converted it into a museum. It remains a museum to this day, and is one of the most visited historical museums in the state. Among other things, visitors can explore six different rooms that are filled with period furniture and get a look at the home’s secret staircase. There are also display pieces that relate to Hawthorne’s novel, and visitors can familiarize themselves with the overall history of the place by watching an informative audiovisual program. Another of the state's most popular historic museums, the Salem Witch Museum, is found just a few blocks away.
The House of Seven Gables address is located at 115 Derby Street. Sitting adjacent to the mansion is the Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace. It was built before 1750 and relocated to its current site. Also found on the collective museum site are period gardens, the Retire Beckett House, the Hooper-Hathaway House, and the Counting House. The Retire Beckett House dates back to 1655, the Hooper-Hathaway House to 1682, and the Counting House to1830. The overall site is a National Historic Landmark district and understandably ranks high among the many great Massachusetts tourist attractions. The general admission price for the House of the Seven Gables includes a tour of the mansion, as well as visits to the Hawthorne House, the Counting House, and the period gardens. Special events are often held at the House of Seven Gables site, and they are definitely worth keeping in mind when looking for things to do in Salem.
Top image: openroads.com (flickr)