The House of the Seven Gables

About the Member

Our American story starts in 1668, when Salem sea captain and merchant John Turner I and his wife Elizabeth built The House of the Seven Gables. Three generations of the Turner family lived in the seaside mansion before it was sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782. An active captain during the Great Age of Sail, Ingersoll died at sea. Eventually the property was left to his daughter, Susanna, a cousin of famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s visits to his cousin’s home are credited with inspiring the setting and title of his 1851 novel, “The House of the Seven Gables.”

Caroline Emmerton, a philanthropist and preservationist, founded the present-day nonprofit as a museum and Settlement House to assist immigrant families arriving in Salem. Inspired by Jane Addam’s Hull House, she purchased the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion in 1908 and worked with architect Joseph Everett Chandler to restore it to its perceived appearance from the 1600s.

Emmerton’s goal was to preserve the house for future generations, provide educational opportunities for visitors and use the proceeds from the tours to fund her settlement programs. Thanks to Emmerton and Chandler, the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, known popularly as The House of the Seven Gables, has survived with many of its original period features spanning four centuries of American architectural history.

Over time, Emmerton and the organization’s trustees acquired and moved five additional structures with historic significance to the site: The Retire Becket House (c. 1687); The Hooper-Hathaway House (c. 1682); Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace (c. 1750); The Phippen House (c. 1782); and The Counting House (c.1830). Today, The House of the Seven Gables’ campus constitutes its own national historic district on The National Register of Historic Places.

For more than a century, The House of the Seven Gables has been a welcoming, thriving, historic site and community resource that engages people of all backgrounds in our inclusive American story.