Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
December 12, 2006
Situated next to the water of Salem's harbor, the House of Seven Gables is well worth the visit just for the views it offers of the beautiful historic coastline. The gardens outside the House are well curated and even in the late fall some flowers were still blooming. The walkways and small outer buildings feel right with the historic time period of the house and it is easy to see why this area is such a photo-op place for tourists.
The other houses on the property are not on their original pieces of land, but it is just as well to keep these building preserved as part of the historic site. Nathanial Hawthorne's birthplace is small, but a great addition to the House of Seven Gables property given the connections between Hawthorne and both houses.
The ~$10/person admission covers entrance into the historic houses and a guided tour of The House of Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace. Our tour guide spoke very quickly, but thoroughly knew her Hawthorne facts and details of the houses. Surprisingly, the houses do not feel as though they've been preserved to the maximum potential. Most pieces are of furniture are not original to the property and some don't even feel as if they are from the right time period. I'm sure this is a work-in-progress, but I would've thought things would be in better shape than exhibited.
Small stairways and steep climbs abound on the House of Seven Gables tour- if you're out of shape or particularly wide you may want to sit parts of it out. Our tour guide was impatient with people for not wanting to climb the perilous looking staircase. I didn't blame the people on our tour, but I made it up the staircase without much ado.
To give this tour extra meaning, visitors should be sure to read the Hawthorne novel before their trip here. My mom was inspired to buy the book after our tour, but she felt that she was missing out on some of the details of the tour without having read the book beforehand. I will be curious to see if she wants to go back after reading the book for further insight.
From journal Witch Hunting in Salem Mass
February 28, 2005
I really didn’t know much about Nathanial Hawthorne’s 1851 novel, The House of Seven Gables, but architecture and history are two of my interests, so my visit to the 1668 wooden mansion, the oldest surviving one in New England, began with cautious expectations. I found that the house had been meticulously restored – the original interior paint color was recently discovered and the walls repainted – and it contains thousands of artifacts, paintings, and books of the period. Costumed guides lead tours and describe the history of the house and the part it plays in Hawthorne’s book.
But for any visitor, the very best part is climbing up the secret stairwell and exploring the multi-peaked attic. This brief adventure made the house more than just another old house and motivated me to take a look at Hawthorne’s novel when I got home.
The House of Seven Gables is part of an historic district that includes a visitor center, café (the hearty soup was yummy and warming on a rainy day), garden, museum shop, and other historical buildings. The small Salem home where Hawthorne was born in 1804 has been moved into the same historic district, and self-guided tours are included in the admission.
As I learned, Hawthorne’s story, The House of Seven Gables, concerns a curse that plagues the descendants of the home’s builder because of his dastardly deeds during the witch trials. Visiting Salem today, you can see how the real events of 1692 connect to the present touristy atmosphere of the town. Some may view this as a curse, but it has probably ensured the support of historic places such as The House of Seven Gables.
Open 10am to 5pm every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving) and 10am to 7pm July through October. Check their web site for discounts and special October events.
From journal Which Witch City?
October 17, 2002
The tours are led by costumed guides; the regular tour focuses on the home's history from it's beginnings in 1668, to the period when the home was owned by Nathaniel Hawthorne's cousin, Susannah Ingersoll. The lantern light tour focuses more on the house in relation to Hawthorne's novel "The House of the Seven Gables" (so if you have to read it for English class and you take this tour, it's kind of like reading the Cliff's Notes), and the haunted tour is haunted by the characters from Hawthorne's book.
Happily, all the tours include a trip through the house's coolest feature, the secret passage (not, I warn, for the claustrophobic, as it snakes up between two flues in the giant chimney).
Also on site are lovely colonial revival gardens, planted when the house was restored in the early 1900's. The house and gardens are right on the water and have a great view of Salem Harbor.
There is a small cafe in the visitor's center that serves sandwiches and drinks at prices that aren't too extortionate, given the captive audience. Most of the cafe's tables are situated in the garden, providing a pleasant meal, if the weather's good.
Admission also includes a short self-guided tour of Hawthorne's birthplace, moved to the site from nearby Herbert St.
The Gables has plenty of free parking in a lot off Derby St. (which runs along one side of the property).
From journal Salem, Massachusetts: Sorcery, Seafarers, and Samuel McIntire
, New Mexico
September 11, 2000
From journal Curiously Seeking Susannah