A pioneer in historic preservation dating to the 1860s, PEM today preserves 22 historic structures, including Yin Yu Tang, an 18th-century Chinese merchant's house transported from China and reassembled here, and the Ropes Mansion and Garden.
Built about 1727, the Ropes Mansion was home to four generations of the Ropes family and is recognized as one of New England's most significant and thoroughly documented historic houses. Filled with original furnishings, the Georgian Colonial contains superb examples of 18th- and 19th-century furniture, ceramics and glass, silver, kitchenwares, textiles and personal objects. Reopened in May 2015, visitors are invited to freely circulate throughout 15 rooms of the home, exploring the property at their own pace. Guides are on hand to engage conversation and answer questions, while hands-on interactive experiences encourage guests to explore the house's stories layer by layer.
The Ropes Mansion is free and open to visitors seasonally from noon to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Four of PEM's historic structures have been designated National Historic Landmarks and another six structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The rich diversity of architectural styles popular in the Salem region during the past 300 years are prevalent, including the finest surviving works by Federal period architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire. PEM is renowned for the role it has played in illuminating New England's architectural history.
Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House
Yin Yu Tang, a late Qing dynasty merchants' house, was originally located in southeastern China. Re-erected at the Peabody Essex Museum, Yin Yu Tang is now open to visitors.
Gardner-Pingree House (128 Essex Street), 1804
Gardner-Pingree House (128 Essex Street), 1804, was built for John Gardner, a wealthy Salem merchant and nephew of Elias Hasket “King” Derby, mentioned in the preface to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. This elegantly proportioned Federal-style house is one of Salem architect Samuel McIntire’s finest and best-preserved designs. It is a National Historic Landmark.
Derby-Beebe Summer House (Federal Garden area), 1799
Derby-Beebe Summer House (Federal Garden area), 1799, is a one-room structure built in the Federal style and intended for serving light afternoon meals in a garden setting. All the trademarks of the Federal style are found in this small building, which epitomizes the gracious architecture and lifestyle of its era. It is one of only two surviving summer houses designed by Samuel McIntire.
John Ward House (Federal Garden area), ca. 1684
John Ward House (Federal Garden area), ca. 1684, is one of the finest surviving seventeenth-century buildings in New England. It originally stood on a one-acre plot with a kitchen garden, an outhouse, and a well—opposite the jail used during the witchcraft trials. The house was moved to the museum campus in 1910. The style of this house is often called First Period or Post-Medieval—characterized by the extremely steep pitch of the gables, large central chimney, asymmetrical façade, batten door, diamond-paned leaded casement windows, and second-story overhang. One of the earliest buildings to be relocated and restored for historic interpretation in the United States, the house is a National Historic Landmark.