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(Back to Massachusetts Haunted Index)

House of the Seven Gables Museum –
HauntedHouses.com

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Haunted Place — House of the Seven Gables Museum

ADDRESS:

115 Derby Street
Salem, Massachusetts   01970

Phone: (978) 744-0991, extension 116 * House of the Seven Gables Museum Web Site

LOCATION:

The House of the Seven Gables can be found in Salem, on Derby Street, between Turner street and Hardy street, not far from the Derby Warf. It has a spectacular view of the harbor, as the home sits on prime real estate.

seven-gables

DESCRIPTION/HISTORY:

The House of the Seven Gables is the oldest, restored wooden home in New England. Besides having 17th century architecture, this house museum has "an 18th century granite sea wall, and two seaside Colonial Revival Gardens.

Nathaniel Hawthorne and his works are showcased throughout the house museum. Inside, the visitor can see "more than 2,000 artifacts and objects, more than 40 framed works, 500 photographs and glass plate negatives, and more than 50 volumes in our rare book library."

Just steps away from The House of the Seven Gables, the visitor can tour Nathaniel Hawthorne's early childhood home that was saved and moved here in 1958. Inside, the visitor can learn all about the man, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Like many children during his time, he lost his father who died at sea, when he was four. There were lots of Salem families who lost their father/husband. One out of four families lost someone at sea.

The House of the Seven Gables also has a theatre. The following events were listed on their web page:

Spirits of the Gables * Legacy of the Hanging Judge * A Classic Christmas

In 1668, The House of the Seven Gables was built by a Salem sea captain and merchant, John Turner to be his family home. Turner had made his fortune in the East Indies trade. He bought the original property from a widow, Ann Moore. The original house was beyond fixing up, so he tore it down, except for the cellar and fireplace. It was a labor of love, a work in progress, as he added several additions to the home, turning it into a mansion.

Captain John Turner died at sea, leaving the mansion to his widow, who married another sea captain, Charles Redford. The new Mrs. Redford died at some point, and left Captain Charles with the children. Knowing that the odds were he may also die at sea, he put a will together, insuring that John Turner's children would inherit the property. When Charles did indeed die at sea, Turner's children inherited the property with no problem.

John Turner Jr., during the Salem witch trials, feared for the safety of his sisters, so he built a secret staircase along the fireplace up to the second floor, in case the cruel, sadistic magistrate came prowling around, looking for potential witches, inspired by the hysteria in Salem.

Three generations of the Turner family did enjoy the Turner Mansion as their family home. The home was sold after John Turner's great grandson Edward died without any heirs. A Captain Samuel Ingersoll bought the property in 1782. Unfortunately, Captain Samuel Ingersoll died at sea in the 1800s, but left the mansion to his daughter, Susannah, who was a second cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. She spent the rest of her life in the mansion, and died in 1858.

Nathaniel Hawthorne would visit with Susannah often, and eventually was inspired by this Turner-Ingersoll Mansion to write his 1851 novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The name stuck, and the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion was known by many by this name, because of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel.

The House of the Seven Gables; Turner-Ingersoll Mansion was described by Hawthorne himself, as being "a rusty, wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass. And a huge clustered chimney in the middle."

He was describing the original John Turner Mansion, not the home that he was familiar with in 1851. As early as 1782, Captain Ingersoll had removed 4 of the 7 Gables, along with several portions of the home. Susannah had shown Nathaniel remnants of what was left of the removed Gables which some say was the creative spark that inspired his novel.

After Susannah died, her adopted son inherited the home, but ran into financial troubles, and had to sell it in 1879. It stood mostly vacant. By 1883, the home was badly in need of some TLC and major renovation, if people were to inhabit it again. It was in danger of being ripped down, but was saved by Henry Upton who stabilized it. The Upton family called it home.

In 1908, a mover and a shaker with a big heart, philanthropist and preservationist Caroline O. Emmerton bought the home with great plans to restore it, and use it to help others. 230 years after the mansion was built, the structure of this mansion had been changed considerably from its original plan, to fit the needs of the generations of folks who lived here. All 7 gables were gone at this point, along with some of the additions that Captain John Turner had built.

After buying the home, Caroline O. Emmerton, formed The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association in 1910. Her goals were "to preserve the house for future generations, to provide educational opportunities for visitors, and to use the proceeds from the tours to fund her settlement programs".

The first step was to restore and rebuild the original mansion that Captain John Turner had built for his family. To restore the seven gables and other period features of the original home, from the 17th and 18th century, Caroline enlisted the help of architect, Joseph Everett Chandler, who was a central force in the early 20th century historic preservation movement. His philosophy and considerable expertise made sure that the house was preserved, and restored to its Georgian architectural "fabric." The result was the restoration of Captain John Turner's original mansion, to its former glory , complete with the secret staircase.

To raise more money for other restoration projects and most importantly for the programs to help Salem's Polish immigrants, who mostly lived around The House of the Seven Gables neighborhood, Caroline set up the tours of the mansion to bring to life Hawthorne's popular novel, The House of the Seven Gables, including having the 'cent shop' set in the mansion, as well as other artifacts and furnishings from Hawthorne's era. This very popular tour let the visitor step back into time and experience history and appreciate Nathaniel Hawthorne's life and works.

Caroline and The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association she formed, also bought and saved five additional 17th, 18th and 19th century structures creating a house museum park on The House of the Seven Gables Mansion Museum property: The Retire Becket House (1655); The Hooper Hathaway House (1682); Nathaniel Hawthorne's Birthplace (c1750); The Phippen House (c1782); and The Counting House (c 1830). This House of the Seven Gables Historical House Museum Park has been registered and listed on The National Register of Historic Places.

So thanks to a philanthropist and preservationist, Caroline O. Emmerton, and like-minded people, the visitor can go to not only The House of the Seven Gables House Museum, but also the other 17th, 18th, and 19th century buildings mentioned above, that have been moved to this building museum park.

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HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:

People who love their homes while alive, often want to stay in them, not letting death get in the way! When their homes are restored, it is like a giant paranormal trigger, that draws spirits into this world.

( Adam Thoroughgood House * Madrona Manor * Whalely House * LeDuc Mansion * Ringwood Manor )

Children who have died from disease or accidents, sometimes like to stay in the family home, or a familiar, safe place.

( Gibbs Farm House Museum * Karsten Inn * Robert E. Lee Mansion * Kehoe House )

Sometimes spirits choose to stay in this world, appearing as children because it was a very happy time in their life, or because they are trying to work through a childhood trauma.

( Robert E. Lee Mansion * Bethlehem Hotel )

MANIFESTATIONS:

Water faucets and lights go on and off all by themselves.

A strong, unknown, benign presence is felt throughout the mansion, keeping the living company.

Various shadows have been spied by the living throughout the various floors.

Entity of a female, thought to be Susan Ingersoll

She has been seen peering out of the windows before disappearing.

Entity of a little boy

Likes to play around the attic area, and look out the gable windows.

Paranormal Findings:

A psychic by the name of Lisa was taking a tour of The House of the Seven Gables, made contact with a presence, and took a picture on the back porch of the little boy seen playing up by the gables, mentioned above. Many personal experiences of staff and visitors have been reported and shared.

STILL HAUNTED?

Probably so, though there isn't much hard evidence to back up the personal experiences of staff and visitors. The volume of personal experiences, and the aura of the place strongly suggest that entities share the home with staff and cordially welcome tourists. At night, when the museum is closed, the spirits still have this home to themselves.

Very few paranormal groups are allowed in to investigate/or publish their findings, because the folks in charge don't want to loose the focus on their mission statement: to be a source of education, preservation and community philanthropy. At this point, they aren't ready to come completely out of the paranormal closet yet, though they hint at it through a theatrical production, and did allow the story found in D'Agostino's book to be published. They currently have a peaceful coexistence with their spirits, and don't want to disturb them.

SOURCES INCLUDE:

Haunted Massachusetts
By Thomas D'Agostino
Schiffer Books
2007

Salem page on HauntedPlacestoGo * "Ghost of the Seven Gables" page on About.com
"A remarkable photograph captures the Hawthorne ghost" - About.com * House of the Seven Gables Museum Web Site

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