by Ryan Conary, Marketing & Reservations Coordinator
The House of the Seven Gables (Turner-Ingersoll Mansion) built in 1668, is a monument to the practical, sturdy construction of first-period New England houses, and the classically-inspired, elegant forms introduced to the house in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This long-standing model for creativity is counted among the most recognizable and revered of New England’s historic homes. Its grand and distinguished architecture has motivated many to immortalize it through photography, painting, literature and a host of other art forms. One such artist, inspired to preserve the legacy of the house was Edward Merchant, a retired executive who had a talent for crafting beautiful, immaculately detailed scale models of man-made structures. He would travel around the world with his wife, visiting the sites of the buildings that he was working on, to become immersed in their architecture. Mr. Merchant’s enthusiasm for traveling to, and taking inspiration from, the real structures are apparent in his miniature creations.
In his model of The House of the Seven Gables, Mr. Merchant’s precise attention to detail and accuracy of the framework of the house are astounding. In the 1990’s, he and his wife made a trip to Salem to visit the “ancient” house. The trip was at the request of Ruth Kramer, who had fallen in love with the house after a previous visit, climbed the secret staircase, and walked the narrow halls. Mrs. Kramer came up with the idea to have a dollhouse model of the house built for her granddaughter, and asked Edward Merchant if he would construct it. Edward and his wife, along with Mrs. Kramer and her husband, made the trip to Salem to tour The House of the Seven Gables. While here, Mr. Merchant obtained a copy of early plans for the 1908-1910 restoration of the house, which he used in his design. When the house was completed after roughly 9 months, Mr. Merchant had created a unique, beautiful dollhouse for Mrs. Kramer and her granddaughter, which they would cherish for years. The dollhouse was donated to The House of the Seven Gables by the Kramer family in 2015, where it will be treasured and enjoyed by visitors and the community for years to come.
The donation of the dollhouse adds to an already rich collection of models of the famous Turner-Ingersoll Mansion (The House of the Seven Gables), some of which have been in our collection for decades, and some that have been recently built. One of the latest models of the house was made by The Gables own Brian Payne, who spent months on the design and construction of his model. This brilliant work of art is featured in an article further on in this issue.
We hope that you enjoy this newsletter, and hope to see you here at The Gables for what should be a wonderful spring and summer!
This post was written by Ryan Conary