Tour Historic Salem
Seven historic homes are seen in Salem, Mass.
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John Ward House
Puritans seeking religious freedom landed in Massachusetts in 1629 and founded the town of Salem, taking the name from the Hebrew word for peace. They carved a settlement out of the wilderness and by the 1680s Salem had grown into a thriving port city.
Leather tanner John Ward built his first-period style home in 1684. This simple, box-like house features a steeply pitched roof and imposing gables. The kitchen was at the center, and the large fireplace bisected the house.
Rebecca Nurse Homestead
Salem entered into the infamous Witch Trial period in 1692 when young girls in the village began having fits. The girls were diagnosed as suffering from witchcraft, and authorities began making arrests. The village constable came for 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse in March 1692. The Nurse Homestead is a solid, first-period home built in 1678. The saltbox exterior is typical of most 17th century Massachusetts farmhouses with a steeply pitched roof and post-and-beam construction.
The great hall served as a bedroom for Rebecca and her husband and their rope bed was hinged so it could be pushed out of the way. After Rebecca was hanged as a witch in the summer of 1692, her family brought her body back and buried her at the homestead. The Nurse family continued to live at the homestead until 1784.
In the early 1700s, the shipping industry transformed Salem into one of the most important ports in the world. Merchant Elias Derby, one of the young country's first millionaires, ruled a shipping empire from his waterfront mansion. The 2-1/2 story Georgian-style house features a brick exterior and three dormer windows.
Derby furnished the great room sparsely, in keeping with Puritan sensibilities. The parlor is more opulent and features a canvas floor covering and Chippendale furnishings.
The Gardner-Pingree House
Innovative architect Samuel McIntire perfected the Federal style architecture in the early 1800s. His striking and unique designs put Salem on the map of cities rich in architectural treasures.
In 1804, merchant John Gardener commissioned McIntire to create a Federal home that would become a Salem showplace. The exterior features apricot colored brick, while the elegant double parlor is bisected by pocket doors.
Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace
Author Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in this modest but respectable red clapboard house on July 4, 1804. He lived there for four years until the untimely death of his father, a sea captain.
Though far from rich, the Hawthornes were able to furnish the home with some elegance. Today the home has been restored to its early 19th century appearance and is filled with several of Hawthorne's personal mementos.
The Real House of the Seven Gables
Captain John Turner made a fortune as a cod fisherman and built this striking gabled mansion in 1668. The historic house was later purchased by Susannah Ingersoll, Nathaniel Hawthorne's cousin.
Hawthorne became fascinated with the house and the stories Ingersoll told of its former inhabitants and it became the inspiration his famous novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The house is now the oldest standing mansion in New England and a Salem icon.
The Ropes Mansion
The elegant Ropes Mansion displays several different architectural styles, reflecting the tastes of four generations of the Ropes family. Built in 1727, the Georgian exterior conceals an interior stocked with generations of treasures.