The Gables will be closed January 1 through February 10, 2023. We will reopen February 11, 2023. Tickets for February 11-28 will be available January 1 for members, and January 4 for the public. See you soon!

“Account for Guides” Fragment, 1914

Date: 1914

Type: Manuscript

Categories: , ,

Description

In the early years of the museum, Caroline Emmerton would give her guides handwritten scripts to study. Looking at these scripts – such as this fragment from 1914 – gives us an idea of how much our interpretation has changed. Though, what is perhaps more surprising is how much has stayed the same.

The manuscript has been transcribed below exactly as it appears on the page.

Transcription

“Account for Guides”, Fragment, 1914
Transcribed by W.H. Demick

 

Account for Guides
of the House of the Seven Gables.
General Information.
This house was built by John Turner in 1669. It
remained in the Turner family for three generations
a little over one hundred years. Then it was
bought by Capt. Samuel Ingersoll and remained
in the Ingersoll family for three generations or very
nearly one hundred years. Sinse[sic] then it has been
owned for twenty five years by Mr. Upton and six
years ago was bought for the use of the Settlement.
Hawthorne’s connection with the house dates
from the Ingersoll ownership. He came here
very often to see his cousin Miss Susan Ingersoll and
later when it was owned by her adopted son Horace
Ingersoll.
The Kitchen.
The kitchen is the oldest part of the house. The
utensils in the fireplace show the evolution of
cooking from the earliest days. The bar from which
the pots and kettles hand is earlier than the more
convenient crave. The built-in brick over dates
from a very early period also the Dutch over or
bake kettle which has a rim round the top is
retain the coal that is older than the tin kitchen.
The spider with its long legs for standing off the hot

[Page Two]

coals is the earliest form of frying pan. The
most precious thing in this fire place is this
toaster from which Hawthorne has had many
a slice of toast.
This old chest is very old, also these chairs.
This is the top of a highboy once owned by Miss
Ingersoll and very likely bought of the Turner
family with the house. The sheathing in this
room is a reproduction of the special pattern
that belonged to this house. (If people seem in-
terested show different patterns of sheating).
This board was found in the house, it was the on
surviving part of the original dresser. These are
different kinds of old ware. Tortoiseshell Denington
+ old salt glaze etc.
This churn may be the oldest in the United States.
It belonged to an old man whose great grandfather
owned a plantation in what is now the State of
Maine. He cut down the forest primeval and
this churn was made out of some of the wood.
Passageway.
This is one of the narrow, dark passages spoken
of in the story. It gives an idea of the size of
the chimney.

[Page Three]

Dining-room
This room has always been used as a sitting
room and dining room but it has been
called by different names following the
changes in the fashion.
The Turners called it “the hall” which name
the early settlers brought from England. The
Ingersolls called it the Keeping-room. In the
novel it is called “the parlor of more moderate
size” meaning that is was smaller than the
parlor which is called in the story the grand
reception room.
The scene of “The House of the Seven Gables” is
for the most part laid in this room. For this was
Miss Hepsibah’s[sic] living-room in the story it was
here she received her callers and here she
took her meals. It was here that Judge Pyncheon
waited while Hepsibah[sic] went over the house
to find her brother Clifford and it was here
that the judge was found dead. And if you imagine
him sitting in this chair opposite the sloop door
you see that the butcher could have seen him
when he looked through the window in the shop door.
The paneling in this room is almost two
hundred years old. The sideboard, dining
table and secretary are fine pieces of mahogany

[Page Four]

The dinner wagon and the tray on it belonged
to Miss Ingersoll. The pictures show the clipper
ships which once sailed from Salem and
the foreign ports which were painted for the
Salem merchants who traded at them. In this
cupboard are some things which used to belong
to Miss Ingersoll or were found in the house.
In this room Miss Ingersoll entertained
Hawthorne, Longfellow and other distinguished
people.
This closet is the entrance to the secret staircase.
Clifford’s room.
There is no mention made of the secret
staircase in the story but it fits into the story
in this way. The old judge, who is the villain in
the story comes to the house and demands to see
Clifford. Miss Hepzibah very unwillingly goes
to call him. She expects to find him in his
room but when she got there Clifford has van-
ished. Somewhat alarmed she goes down
stairs and meets him coming out of the
dining-room which she has just left. There
is no explanation given in the story of how Clifford
got to the dining-room but the secret staircase
offers an explanation.
There have been various explanations given

[Page Five]

Why the secret staircase was built, Such as
for smuggling or for protection against the
Indians or as
a hiding place in witchcraft
days. That last seems to be the best expla-
nation. We know that Philip English had a
secret room built in case of a return of the
witchcraft delusion and the Turners who
were friends and neighbors of the English family
may have done the same.
The chairs in this room belonged to Miss Inger
soll.
The Attic.
The attic has been left unfurnished so that
the construction can be examined. Notice the
beams and wide floorboards, the hand-
made laths and old fashioned plastering.
It is filled as old Salem garrets used to be and
as some are still with old style trunks and
seachests[sic]. This is the enchanted meal chest,
which according to the story, at one time danced
about until the parson was brought to pray
over it and since then it has behaved itself.
This shaving set was brought home from India
by a Salem merchant and these little trunks
were used by a Salem sea captain to contain his
business papers. This is part of the original front
door of the house it was studded with nails
after the fashion of the 17th century. This box

[END]