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April 15, 2019 Published By Julie Arrison-Bishop

It’s April School Vacation in Massachusetts! If you’re not going somewhere warm and sunny, come get cozy in our 1668 mansion. You can take advantage of a guided tour, enjoy a Living History Lab, and even take a lesson from the settlement house with our founder “Caroline Emmerton.”

April is a wonderful time for us to celebrate Miss Emmerton’s legacy. Caroline Osgood Emmerton was born on April 21, 1866 in Salem, Mass. Miss Emmerton grew up in a city that was transitioning from its past as a major shipping port to its future as a manufacturing center for both textiles and the leather industry. Emmerton’s family valued community service.

Miss Emmerton was a board member at the Carpenter Street Home, a shelter for orphaned children, and at Historic New England. Emmerton was a founder of the Salem Fraternity, the first Boys and Girls Club to be established in Massachusetts.

Caroline Emmerton purchased the Turner-Ingersoll mansion in 1908. Soon after, she hired Joseph Everett Chandler (1864-1942), one of the most prominent Colonial Revival architects in New England. His restoration of Boston’s Paul Revere House (1680) proved his abilities. Emmerton and Chandler restored the mansion from its early twentieth-century appearance to its perceived original look at the time it was constructed in 1668. Some parts of the restoration and interpretation were focused on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary classic, The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne was a visitor to the house in the mid-nineteenth century and Emmerton knew this story would draw visitors. The House of the Seven Gables opened to the public in April 1910 and has seen millions of visitors since.

Emmerton used proceeds from museum visitors to fund The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association. In the early 20th century, the settlement house movement was seen as the progressive method to help newly arriving immigrant families adapt to life in their new cities. Settlement houses offered a variety of services including classes, medical care, and recreational opportunities.

After Caroline Emmerton’s death in March 1942, The Salem Evening News called Emmerton “one of Salem’s Best Beloved Citizens” and noted that she “gave freely of her time and money for the benefit of underprivileged children and adults, winning the admiration and respect of the entire community.”

On April 21, we’ll be offering free admission to anyone named “Caroline” as a nod to Miss Emmerton’s birthday. Just bring along proof of name and let us show you around our legendary site!

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This post was written by Julie Arrison-Bishop