As the construction phase of our Secret Room Project comes to completion, our staff is actively starting to get into the depths of research for the uses of the dining room chamber over four centuries.
For the first two centuries, we believe that the dining room chamber was used for its traditional purposes–as both a bedroom space and ladies’ entertaining space. When Henry O. Upton bought the home in 1883, he was already a renowned dance and music instructor. Our research at the Salem Public Library and in the Salem directories confirms that he ran his business out of 54 Turner Street–the longtime address for The House of the Seven Gables. The founder of the property in its current iteration, Caroline Emmerton, made numerous changes to the property 1908-1910 in order to make into into a museum and place to run her settlement association. Reports and clippings in the holdings of our own archives and the Peabody Essex Museum’s Phillips Library are helping us to piece together the decades of work that lead us to where we are today.
In the coming weeks our Special Projects Manager, Julie Arrison-Bishop, will be travelling to New York City and Washington DC to meet with professionals in the historic house museum field and gather ideas for the interpretation of the Secret Room, the re-invigoration of historic stories told at The Gables, and to learn about successful community engagement so that all of our visitors and friends feel welcome and involved with our dual mission.