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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Explorers and Settlers
Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings


Location: Essex County, 54 Turner Street, Salem.

Long known as the Turner House, the House of Seven Gables is now identified—perhaps inaccurately—with the novel of the same name, published in 1852, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The earliest section of the weatherbeaten, rambling house was probably built about 1668, and it shows medieval influence. The house has been expanded at various times and the number of gables increased from the original four to seven. In 1910, it was restored. Numerous pieces of furniture used by various owners are exhibited, as well as items associated with Hawthorne. The House of Seven Gables Settlement Association owns the house, which is open to the public throughout the year.

House of Seven Gables
House of Seven Gables, Massachusetts. (Courtesy, Eric H. Muller, Photographer.)
National Historic Landmark JETHRO COFFIN HOUSE

Location: Nantucket County, Sunset Hill Road, Nantucket Island.

This is one of the few extant 17th-century houses of the long-popular Cape Cod style and is one of the best examples. Built about 1686, it features the characteristic steeply pitched roof, having an unusually long rearward slope, and the typical massive central chimney. Small, medieval-type windows indicate the house's great age. The tall chimney has an exceptionally interesting flue device, and inverted horseshoe, which was supposed to ward off witches. In 1927, the house was completely restored. Maintained by the Nantucket Historical Society, it is open to the public between June 15 and October 1.

NHL Designation: 12/24/68

National Historic Landmark JOHN WARD HOUSE

Location: Essex County, 132 Essex Street, Salem.

This clapboard-covered house, built in 1684, reflects the architectural mode of the era. It originally had only one room, but was later expanded into a two-story structure that was distinguished by cross gables and an overhang. Moved to the present location in 1909, where it was restored and furnished, it includes colonial furnishings. The exposed beams of the kitchen and the fascinating collection of early kitchenware and utensils are of special interest. The Essex Institute owns the house, which is open to the public from June through September.

NHL Designation: 12/24/68

National Historic Landmark PETER TUFTS HOUSE

Location: Middlesex County, 350 Riverside Avenue, Medford.

This is probably the oldest brick house in New England. Built in 1678, it is a two-story, gambrel-roof structure that has two rooms in each story. The builders placed portholes for muskets in the front wall on both floors because Indians still posed a threat when the house was erected. Despite a remodeling of the house in the 1890's, the exterior and the great oak beams inside make it one of New England's most interesting colonial dwellings. Maintained by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, it is open to the public throughout the year on a limited schedule.

Peter Tufts House
Peter Tufts House, Massachusetts, built in 1678. It is maintained by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.

NHL Designation: 12/24/68


Location: Plymouth County, just off Water Street, Plymouth.

This great granite rock—incised with the date 1620—commemorates the landing of the Pilgrims in New England. Resting under a portico of classical design, surrounded by an iron fence, and lying two-thirds underground, it is located at the foot of Cole's Hill. Historians have not been able to determine definitely whether or not it was the actual point where the first exploring party came ashore. No mention of the landing place was made in the official records of the Pilgrims. In any event, as the traditional symbol of the landing, the rock is venerated by the people of the United States.

Plymouth Rock
The landing of the Pilgrims in the New World is commemorated at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. The rock, surrounded by an iron fence, lies under this portico, at the bottom of Cole's Hill.

Location: Essex County, 149 Pine Street, Danvers.

Built in 1678, this is an interesting 17th-century clapboard house whose simple lines and basic workmanship demonstrate colonial building skills. The builder was Francis Nurse, but the house derives its name from his wife Rebecca, who in 1692 was condemned and hanged as a witch during the witchcraft hysteria. She stoutly maintained her innocence, yet could not satisfy her accusers. The house has been restored and is furnished with period pieces. Owned by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, it is open to the public between June 15 and October 15. At other times, it may be visited by appointment.


Location: Plymouth County, corner of Sandwich and South Streets, Plymouth.

This house is one of several extant 17th-century structures in Plymouth. When Sgt. William Harlow built it in 1677, he used lumber taken from the fort on Burial Hill. Now restored, the house is owned by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society. Costumed hostesses perform spinning, weaving, candlemaking, and other household arts of the 17th century. The house is open from May 30 to September 30.

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005