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Volume 2, Issue 14, October 21, 2017
It is almost Halloween. This issue and the next will have a Halloween theme, focusing on historic sites that are associated with this time of year. Both of this issue's featured places are associated with ghosts and famous 19th-century authors. These historic sites invite visitors to step into the imaginative tales of ghosts and other forms of mysterious intrigue.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

The House of the Seven Gables (Turner-Ingersoll Mansion)
House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MAThe House of the Seven Gables is the name of a famous 1851 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne and the name associated with the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion in Salem, MA, which served as the inspiration for the house in the novel. The house was built in 1668 for John Turner I, a sea captain who created a highly successful maritime business of fishing and trade. His company's success continued long after his death and is credited with the rise of the maritime importance of New England.
The property changed hands in 1782 from the Turner descendants to another wealthy sea captain, Samuel Ingersoll, who left the property to his daughter, Susanna, after his death. She and Hawthorne were second cousins and he visited her at the house often, listening to her stories about the mansion's history which included how the appearance had changed over time. Her stories inspired Hawthorne's novel which tells of a curse put on the Pyncheon family after Judge Pyncheon acquired the house through illegal means from the previous owner. The tale, told in flashbacks, deals with witchcraft, curses, guilt, romance, and forgiveness.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)The mansion was purchased in 1908 by, Caroline Emmerton, a local preservationist and founder of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, who restored it and opened it to the public as a museum in 1910. In addition to the museum's regular tours, night tours are available during weekends in October as a special program where visitors can walk through the house while Hawthorne's characters come to life and tell their story.

Other buildings within this historic landmark district include the author's birthplace which offers night tours on weekends during October that focus on Hawthorne's ancestor, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials. There is no record of Judge John Hathorne ever apologizing for his actions that resulted in the deaths of people accused of witchcraft. It is widely speculated that Nathaniel Hawthorne added the "w" to his last name to distance himself from his family connection to the judge.

The Mount 
The Mount (Edith Wharton home)The Mount, in Lenox, MA, was where wealthy American author Edith Wharton and her husband lived from 1902-1911. She used her expertise in architecture, interior design and garden design, as well as inspiration of an English country estate to achieve her desired effect where she could write and entertain members of the upper class. In between writing books on architecture and gardening to novels centered around aspects of the American aristocracy, she also wrote ghost stories. She claimed to have been frightened by ghosts many times which is why The Mount offers ghost tours during October.

The ghost tours are at night and last for two hours, starting at the stable. They wind through the gardens and finally into the main house. Visitors can expect creaking boards, footsteps, apparitions, and other ghostly things. After the Whartons sold the property, it had various private owners over the years until 1942, when it was purchased as part of the Foxhollow School for Girls. Residents of the girls' school reported supernatural events. Years later, the estate was used by an acting company who also reported strange occurrences.

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)Wharton's novels often reflected the rigid social rules of high society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a world she knew well, having been born and raised in it. Her 1920 novel, The Age of Innocence, centers around members of the upper class, what is considered socially proper for the sake of decorum and social position, and how that affects their lives. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for Fiction.

Recent Articles to return next issue...


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The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credits: The House of the Seven Gables: courtesy of The Office of Tourism & Cultural Affairs for Salem, MA. The Mount: courtesy of The Mount/David Dashiell.
All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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