The House of the Seven Gables
(The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion)
Year built: 1668
Style: Jacobean/Post Medieval
Built for: John Turner I
The seaside mansion known as The House of the Seven Gables was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner I, the head of one of the most successful maritime families in the New England colonies. The industriousness of Turner and his descendants in the fishing, trading, and mercantile businesses came to define the economy of Puritan New England and began New England’s maritime tradition.
The original part of the home featured a two-over-two floor plan around a large, central chimney. This was typical first period dwellings. His success in business allowed him to construct two additions before his death in 1680, including the great ell that featured grand proportions, high ceilings, and enormous windows.
John Turner II modernized the décor of the home in the Georgian style. Wood paneling was added to the walls of the Parlor, Great Chamber, and Dining Room Chamber. Many of the 17th century beams were cased in wood. All of the work was painted in the most modern of palettes. Today, these enhancements are considered some of the finest examples of the high-style Georgian paneling.
Captain Samuel Ingersoll, a wealthy ship captain, purchased the property in 1782. Captain Ingersoll removed four of the gables to create a boxy Federal home more in keeping with the fashion of the time. After his death in 1804, his daughter Susanna Ingersoll inherited the property. The mansion was both her home and central to her successful business dealings in Salem. Miss Ingersoll was the second cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne visited her often when he worked at the Custom House in Salem from 1845 through 1849. He was inspired by the appearance of the house and his cousin’s tales to write his famous novel, The House of the Seven Gables, in 1851.
Ingersoll’s adopted son, Horace Connolly, lost the house to creditors in 1879. The building was owned by absentee landlords until 1883. The Upton Family purchased the home and used it for as both a residence and business. The Upton family was the first to offer tours of the mansion. Henry O. Upton was a well-known musician and taught dance lessons around Salem. His son, J. Henry Upton offered lessons for the organ and piano-forte. His daughter, Henrietta, was an instructor in oratory and physical culture. Ida Upton was a well-known artist who painted a “Witch Cup” for sale after tours of the mansion, quoted as “the first typical souvenir in the world.”
The Uptons sold the property after they moved to the Salem Willows neighborhood. Caroline Emmerton, a philanthropist and preservationist, founded The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association to assist immigrant families who were settling in Salem in the early 20th century. Inspired by Jane Addam’s Hull House, she purchased the “old Turner Mansion” in 1908 and worked with architect, Joseph Everett Chandler to restore its perceived original appearance. Chandler was a central figure in the early 20th century historic preservation movement and his philosophy influenced the way the house was preserved.
Emmerton’s goal was to preserve the house for future generations and educate visitors as well as to use the proceeds from the tours to fund her settlement programs for newly arriving immigrants.
Because of Emmerton, Chandler, and countless supporters over the years, The House of the Seven Gables has survived with many unique architectural features intact. These features help visitors today to understand 350 years of stories as well as Salem’s connection to global affairs. The House of the Seven Gables is one of the largest timber-framed mansions in North America still on its original foundation