House of the Seven Gables

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  • The House of the Seven Gables was built in 1668 for Capt. John Turner, a successful merchant, and remained in his family for three generations. "Facing south toward the harbor, it was at first a two-room, two-and-one-half-story, central-chimney plan with two "Gothic" cross-gables in front" according to Tolles in his book, Architecture in Salem.
  • The house was altered and added onto over the years, adding a wing and a garret with three gables.
  • We are perhaps most familiar with the house through The House of the Seven Gables published by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851, his third novel. Hawthorne was known to visit his cousin Susannah Ingersoll at the family home on Turner Street. Though Hawthorne claimed the book was not set at the house, many similarities between the two have been noticed over the years.
  • In 1908, the house was bought by the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, founded by Caroline O. Emmerton, who used the admission fees to help support the Association's nearby settlement house. The Association was set up to help support recent immigrant families, especially Polish immigrants, with services like literacy and job placement and was a community center for social activities as well. The house opened as a museum in 1910. Joseph Everett Chandler restored the 1668 Turner Ingersoll House between 1908-1910 to make what we now know as House of the Seven Gables.
  • In the yard stood a huge tree, a chestnut tree estimated at 150 years old. It is speculated to have been planted by one of the sea captains, an exotic specimen brought back from a voyage. Robyn Kanter, landscape designer who works at the Gables identifies it as a Chinese Chestnut tree. Unfortunately the tree had to come down in 2002.
  • Over time Emmerton and the organization’s trustees acquired and moved to the site five additional 17th, 18th and 19th century structures: The Retire Becket House (1655); The Hooper Hathaway House (1682); Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace (c1750); The Phippen House (c1782); and The Counting House (c 1830). The House of the Seven Gables’ campus constitutes is own national historic district on The National Register of Historic Places.
  • The House of the Seven Gables was selected in 2007 to be placed on the list of National Historic Places, the highest designation the federal government gives to historic properties.
  • Anita Blackaby became the newest director of the site beginning in 2008, bringing 30 years of professional museum experience.
  • In 2010, the Gables eliminated some of the children's programs at the Settlement House due to financial challenges and duplication of services. The after-school and camp programs were costly to run and had declined in enrollment. New partnerships have begun with various community organizations, many whose programs align with the spirit and intent of The Settlement's mission. Some of these are: Express Yourself, Inc. of Beverly, Salem CyberSpace, The Plummer Home for Boys in Salem, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church/Iglesia Episcopal San Pedro & the Family Self-Sufficiency Center, in Salem.

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See Also

  • Postcards courtesy of CardCow.com
  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - House of the Seven Gables
  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Chandler, Joseph
  • "New visitor center opens at House of the Seven Gables" Salem Evening News, Aug. 13, 1994, p.1
  • "New Gables director wants to reconnect with North Shore" Salem News, Apr.3, 2008, p.2
  • "Gables to celebrate pick as national historic landmark" Salem News, Sept. 17, 2007. p.A2
  • "Salem pays tribute to fabled Gables: Hawthorne novel, set at site, turns 150" Boston Sunday Globe, Feb. 25, 2001, p. N 1
  • A Eulogy for a beloved old tree that falls today" Salem News, Oct. 3, 2002, p. 1
  • "Hawthorne's birthplace leaves Union Street" Salem Evening News, May 1, 1958, p. 1
  • "In centennial year, Gables shifts focus; agency eliminates children's programs and looks for mission to evolve" Salem News, Apr. 7, 2010, p.1
  • "House of the Seven Gables collects stories from the people who knew it best" Salem News, Mar. 19, 2010, p. 13
  • "Lecture to celebrate Gables garden's 100th birthday" Salem News, May 14, 2010, p. 9
  • "Turner Street's most famous house didn't always have seven gables" Salem News, Mar. 26, 2012, p. 7