The House of the Seven Gables Maritime History

Brittany DiCologero Learn Leave a Comment

The House of the Seven Gables, or the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion as it was known before Nathaniel Hawthorne published his novel of the same name, was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner I.

The Turner family was wildly successful in maritime trade, leading to the wealth that made some of the more opulent features you can see at The House of the Seven Gables today possible. The first two additions to the mansion were due to John Turner’s maritime success (both of which will be pointed out to you on guided tours of the mansion).

Continuing with the family’s maritime tradition, John Turner II attained enough wealth to further alter the décor of the mansion. During his lifetime, the home took on a Georgian style, with wood paneling enhancing the walls of the Parlor, Great Chamber, and Dining Room. A modern paint scheme was added throughout the home, and the original 17th century ceiling beams were cased in wood.

The Ingersoll connection to the mansion came in 1792 when the home was purchased by Captain Samuel Ingersoll, a wealthy Salem sea captain. Ingersoll remodeled the house to be more in line with contemporary architecture, removing four of the Gables and opting for a Federal style mansion.

Upon Ingersoll’s death in 1804, the mansion was inherited by his daughter, Susanna. (Susanna Ingersoll was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s second cousin, and his visits to the house and talks with Susanna inspired the novel, The House of the Seven Gables).

The history of The House of the Seven Gables goes beyond its beginnings as a mansion owned by a Salem merchant sea captain. Susanna Ingersoll managed her own business out of the home, however in 1879 her son Horace lost the mansion to creditors. From there, the mansion was purchased by the Upton Family (who were the first to give tours on the property).

When the Uptons moved to a neighborhood a short distance away near the Salem Willows, Caroline Emmerton purchased the home. Emmerton was a philanthropist and preservationist, and she used her skillset to found The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association (that still exists today) to assist new immigrant families in Salem.

Emmerton and preservation architect Joseph Everett Chandler restored the mansion to its original appearance and under Emmerton’s leadership tours of the mansion were offered with proceeds supporting The Gables’ settlement mission.

There is so much more to learn about The House of the Seven Gables, so we recommend taking the tour or experiencing the gardens and grounds while you’re in Salem. Visit 7gables.org for hours and availability.

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