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      Historic Houses

      Cotting-Smith Assembly House

      138 Federal Street
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      Cotting-Smith Assembly House

      Listen now to the PEM Walks episode about this property! Behind-the-scenes audio storytelling that unlocks PEM’s historic houses.

      About 15 minutes from the main campus of the museum is the Cotting-Smith Assembly House (1782), a Federalist clubhouse built for 18th-century elites.

      Once home to public lectures, dances and concerts, the house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is located within the McIntire Historic District. George Washington attended a dance here in 1789. While the original architect is unknown, the house was later remodeled by Samuel McIntire for use as a private residence. In 1782, the McIntire District was a fairly new and thinly developed neighborhood making it a remote location for an assembly house. After 15 years, a single investor bought out all the other subscribers in order to own the building for himself.

      Cotting Smith House column detail

      When the building came under private ownership, architect Samuel McIntire was hired to redesign the building as an elegant mansion. This building survives as the only wooden structure designed by McIntire with a pavilion front.

      Photo by Allison White/PEM.

      The beautiful Greek revival portico on the front of the house, with the grape vine carvings in the frieze, was created by master carpenter Joseph True, probably in the 1830s or ‘40s. Around that time, the incredible Gothic Revival cast iron fence was installed.

      Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

      The Cotting-Smith House Assembly House was named in the 1960s when it was donated to the museum by a woman named Mary Silver Smith, who was an antiques collector. She donated the house and her personal collection to the museum. An antiques dealer named Charles Cotting teamed up with Silver and donated additional pieces to the museum. The requirement in their will was that the building be named the Cotting-Smith Assembly House. It was left with a considerable endowment, which continues to support the property today.

      Photo by Allison White/PEM

      Photo by Allison White/PEM.

      Photo by Ken Sawyer/PEM.

      Photo above and below by Ken Sawyer/PEM.

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