House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables (the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion) is a colonial-era mansion in Salem, Massachusetts. Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The House of the Seven Gables, published in 1851, made the house famous.
Folklore alleges that the ghosts of former residents haunt the property. Today, it is a museum owned by a philanthropic organization. People may visit it for historical and paranormal tours.
Captain John Turner
Samuel Wardwell, a carpenter and builder from Andover, Massachusetts, built the mansion in 1668 for the wealthy merchant and shipping magnate John Turner I and his wife, Elizabeth Robinson.
[Note: Samual Wardwell (1643-1692) received a death sentence following an accusation of witchcraft during the infamous Salem Witchcraft trial. They hanged him on September 22, 1692.]
The house Wardwell built was a two-room, two-story structure on the Salem Harbor. Turner later added more rooms to the structure, including a living room, bedrooms, and garbles.
Successive generations of the Turner family lived in the mansion. They also added new structures to it.
John Turner II
John Turner II renovated the building early in the 1700s and added elements of Georgian style to it. He expanded it into a seven-garbled structure with 17 rooms and 8,000 square feet (Antics and the Arts Weekly, August 12, 2008).
John Turner III
Due to financial issues, John Turner III sold the property to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782.
The Ingersolls and Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Ingersolls renovated the mansion and restyled it in conformity with the Federal architectural style of the time. In the process, they downsized it and removed four gables, leaving only three.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the novelist and author of The House of Seven Garbles, was a relative of the Ingersolls who occasionally visited the family in their house.
The Turner -Ingersoll mansion inspired Hawthorn’s book
Hawthorne received inspiration to write his novel, The House of Seven Garbles, published in 1851, after Samuel Ingersoll’s daughter (and Hawthorne’s second cousin), Susannah, showed him around the house.
During the tour, she showed Hawthorne the beams and mortises that marked the locations of the former gables. He also learned about the house’s past.
The property was never referred to as the House of the Seven Gables during the years the Turners and later the Ingersolls owned it. It acquired the nickname because Hawthorne claimed in one of his correspondences that the house inspired his story.
Caroline O. Emmerton’s restoration
The Ingersoll family also fell on hard times when Susannah’s son Horace lost his fortune. He sold the house in 1879.
Caroline O. Emmerton, a philanthropist, bought it in 1908 from Henry O. and Elizabeth Upton. She hired architect Joseph Everett Chandler of Boston to renovate and restore it as a museum.
Chandler restored the missing gables. However, the restoration also prioritized structuring the property to appeal to visitors who had read Hawthorne’s novel. Thus, rather than adhere to a historically accurate restoration, they included features that fans of Hawthorne’s novel would expect to see.
Thus, the house included a closet with a false back behind which was a hidden staircase leading up the attic. It also had a structure resembling the “cent shop” owned by the fictional Hepzibah Pyncheon.
However, they restored other historic features of the building.
The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association
In 1910, Emmerton founded The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association and used earnings from the tours to fund her community education and service program.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace
Today, the house in which Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and lived until he was four years old is at 27 Hardy Street, close to the House of the Seven Gables.
The original address of the house, built sometime in the mid-1700s, was at 27 Union Street. In 1958, the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, under then-president Donald C. Seamans, initiated the project to move the building to its current location.
The House of Seven Gables Historic District became a National Historic Landmark District in March 2007.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables tells the unsettling story of the Pyncheon family, who had their house built on the land that Mathew Maule previously owned.
Colonel Pyncheon wanted Maule’s property, so he devised an evil plot to acquire it by ganging up with others to accuse Maule of witchcraft. When they were about to hang him, Maule cursed Pyncheon, saying God would exact revenge on his behalf.
After Pyncheon took over the land and built his mansion there, Maule’s cause began operating. During the housewarming, he died mysteriously in his armchair.
Years later, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, a descendant of Colonel Pyncheon, also died while sitting in his ancestor’s old armchair.
Hawthorne’s ancestor John Hathorne was a judge in the Salem witch trials
In real life, Samuel Wardwell, the man who built the Turner Mansion for Captain John Turner in 1668, was also accused of witchcraft and hanging in 1692.
Nathaniel Hawthorn’s great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was a judge in the infamous Salem witch trials. Legend has it that one of the victims in the Salme witchhunt also pronounced a curse on Judge Hathorne. By the time Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, the family had lost much of its wealth and social status.
Some ascribed the dwindled fortunes of the Hawthornes to the curse pronounced on them by the people they sent to their deaths over flimsy witchcraft accusations.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was mindful of his ancestor’s past wrongdoing. His story plot derived inspiration from his family’s past, which he abhorred. He reportedly added “w” to his name to distinguish himself from his “cursed” ancestor. He also penned an apology.
Most haunted mansion in Salem
Many paranormal enthusiasts consider the House of the Seven Gables on Derby Street the most haunted in Salem. The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association runs the house as a museum dedicated to promoting the life and times of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Paranormal enthusiasts claim that the ghosts of past residents haunt the mansion.
Susannah Ingersoll’s ghost
According to legend, Captain Samuel Ingersoll’s daughter, Susannah, haunts the property.
Susannah was Hawthorne’s friend and second cousin. She used to entertain Hawthorne when he visited the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion. He claimed he got the inspiration for his story after Susannah conducted him around the mansion and told him about its past.
The ghost of a woman on the upper floor
Some visitors reported seeing a mysterious woman looking through an upper room window. Many believe the woman was the ghost of Susannah Ingersoll.
A man on the staircase
Folklore alleges that people reported seeing an apparition of a man running up and down the secret staircase that leads to the attic.
A boy in the attic
Visitors reported that the ghost of a boy haunts the attic. Some reported seeing the boy playing in the attic, while others said they heard the sound of footsteps suggesting a child prancing around in the room. Others said they heard laughing and giggling.
Some paranormal enthusiasts speculated that the boy could be Nathaniel Hawthorne’s son, Julian.
Visitors often said the attic was one of the creepiest sections of the house. They claimed to have felt a deep sense of unease, anxiety, breathlessness, and faintness in the room. They also felt an overwhelming urge to flee the room.
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Featured Image: The House of the Seven Gables in 1915. Pic credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia
|Other Name/s||Turner House, Turner-Ingersoll Mansion|
|Address||115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970|
|Activity reported||Haunting, Poltergeist, Shadow Figures|
Where to find
In the media
https://npiweb.com/Blog/Posts/haunted-places-series-house-of-the-seven-gables, “Haunted places series: The House of the Seven Gables,” accessed on April 25, 2023.
https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2016/05/preservering-a-muse, “Preserving a Muse,” accessed on April 25, 2023
https://7gables.org/salem-beyond/explore-haunted-salem/, “Matthew Maule’s bloody curse at the House of the Seven Gables,” accessed on April 25, 2023.
https://7gables.org/, “About the House of the Seven Gables,” accessed on April 25, 2023.
https://ghostcitytours.com/salem/haunted-places/house-seven-gables/, “The haunted House of the Seven Gables,” accessed on April 25. 2023.
https://7gables.org/organization-history/, “Organization history: Introduction,” accessed on April 25. 2023.