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      Historic Houses & Gardens

      Salem has a uniquely rich architectural heritage. Every major American architectural style is represented within its borders. PEM’s physical campus of historic houses and other buildings encompasses three city blocks.

      PEM’s campus is an accredited arboretum and offers numerous gardens and greenspaces for exploration, including the: the 5,000-square-foot Museum Garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and the Colonial Revival Ropes Mansion Garden that is open to the public from dawn to dusk each day.

      Currently, Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home is open year-round for self-guided tours and PEM's Ropes Mansion is open seasonally on weekends for self-guided tours. Timed reservations for historic house tours are required and entry is included in general admission.

      Curious to know what goes into keeping all of these historic houses in tiptop shape? Visit our recently-launched House Keeping page to learn more.

      A view through a pergola in the Ropes Mansion Garden

      McIntire Historic District

      Located a short walk from PEM, this district is rich with Georgian- and Federal-style houses designed or influenced by renowned architect Samuel McIntire (1757–1811).

      Ropes Mansion

      Ropes Mansion and Garden

      Built in 1727–1729
      0.4 miles from PEM

      Peirce-Nichols House

      Built in 1782
      0.4 miles from PEM

      Cotting-Smith Assembly House

      Built in 1782
      0.6 miles from PEM

      Essex Block Neighborhood

      Essex Block Neighborhood

      This is the center of the museum’s architectural collection. Three centuries of extraordinary New England architecture, set in Federal-style gardens, may be found within this one square city block. As a rule, the buildings whose exteriors are wood-clad have been moved to the site from elsewhere; those clad in brick or stone are original to the site.

      Quaker Meeting House

      Built c. 1688
      0.1 miles from PEM

      Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop

      Built in 1783
      0.1 miles from PEM

      John Ward House

      Built in 1685-1699
      0.1 miles from PEM

      Andrew-Safford House

      Built in 1818
      0.2 miles from PEM

      Crowninshield-Bentley House

      Built in 1729
      0.2 miles from PEM

      Daniel Bray House

      Built in 1766-1806
      0.1 miles from PEM

      Gardner-Pingree House

      Built in 1804–06
      0.2 miles from PEM

      Derby-Beebe Summer House

      Built in 1796
      0.1 miles from PEM

      Plummer Hall and Daland House

      Built in 1856
      Across the street from PEM

      View of East India Marine Hall

      Main Campus

      Located at the corner of Essex Street and New Liberty Street, this is the site of most of the museum’s gallery and office space, housed in buildings of various periods. Several historic structures comprise this part of the campus.

      Samuel Pickman House

      Built in 1672
      Located behind the museum

      East India Marine Hall

      Built in 1824–25
      Incorporated into the main museum building

      Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home

      Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home

      Built c. 1790s
      Enter from inside the museum

      Architectural Styles

      First Period or Post-Medieval is the earliest style of architecture found in New England. Look for massive central chimneys; steeply pitched, many-gabled roofs; asymmetrical door and window patterns; wooden batten doors; diamond-paned leaded casement windows; and second-floor overhangs.

      Georgian style is based on classical models popular in Britain in the early 18th century. Look for orderly, symmetrical façades, usually of two stories; transom lights or small rectangular windows over doors; double-hung sash windows; and classical details such as pediments, pilasters and columns.

      Federal style is an American adaptation of the Neoclassical, Roman or Adam style popular in Britain in the late 18th century. Look for orderly, symmetrical façades, usually of three stories; fanlights above doors and sidelights beside doors; semicircular porches; hipped roofs; and classical details such as pediments, pilasters and columns.

      Greek Revival structures are usually one or two stories with a facade that resembles a Greek temple. Columns or pilasters typically have Doric or Ionic capitals. Details such as dormer windows have prominent pediments.

      Italianate town houses are usually made of sandstone in dark brown or reddish colors. They are meant to evoke the farmhouses of northern Italy. These houses are often square or cube-shaped with round-topped windows and cupolas.

      PEM Walks

      Explore PEM Walks, an audio series that takes you into remarkable historic structures in Salem with PEM’s Content Producer Dinah Cardin and Manager of Historic Structures Steven Mallory.


      Museum Garden

      Museum Garden

      PEM’s serene 5,000-square-foot garden offers a mental and acoustic break from your museum experience. Designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the garden space features nearly 300 varieties of shrubs, 60 trees, 37 species of flowers, an 11-foot cascading water feature and multiple benches to sit and relax.

      Ropes Mansion Garden

      Ropes Mansion Garden

      Located at 318 Essex Street (a 10-minute walk from PEM), the Ropes Mansion garden blooms with plant life that’s as appealing to bees and butterflies as it is to visitors. Designed by Salem botanist and horticulturist John Robinson in 1912, the one-acre Colonial Revival garden welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Located in Salem’s McIntire Historic District, the tranquil space is open to the public 365 days a year, from dawn to dusk, at no charge. Leashed dogs are welcome in the garden.

      Visitors walk through the Ropes Mansion garden
      A view of the Ropes Mansion garden
      Aerial view of the new garden at PEM.

      Did you know we’re an arboretum?

      PEM’s unique and varied campuses have recently been designated as a Level 1 Arboretum by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. The museum’s gardens and greenspaces reflect horticultural efforts from the 17th century to today and cover 4.1 acres in the Downtown and McIntire Historic Districts of Salem, MA. An additional 5.3 acre campus in Rowley, MA is home to the PEM’s Hawkes Collection Center and its associated grounds. Notable plantings in the PEM Arboretum include a 100-year-old copper beech tree at the Ropes Mansion Garden and a unique array of species along the museum’s Axelrod Walkway property, including Dawn Redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), Carolina Silverbells (Halesia carolina), Cryptomeria and Ginkgos.

      Become a Garden Volunteer

      PEM periodically recruits community volunteers to help maintain its gardens. We are currently accepting applications.

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