PEM has pioneered historic preservation since the 1860s and stewards for more than a dozen noted historic structures. These include the historic Ropes Mansion and Yin Yu Tang, an 18th-century Chinese merchant's home transported from China and re-erected in Salem.
PEM’s commitment and contributions to Salem’s ever-evolving architectural treasures include two centuries of commissions, acquisitions, bequests and partnerships.
PEM’s parent organizations, the Essex Institute and the Peabody Museum, acquired at least one historic structure in nearly every decade of the 20th century. These structures and gardens span four centuries of the American experience, from first European colonization to the industrial era. Together, they form the largest collection of historical architecture held by any art museum in the United States.
Of the collection’s buildings, four are National Historic Landmarks, the highest designation in the country, and another six are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. All but the Samuel Pickman House are located in a National Register of Historic Places historic district. Together with the museum’s innovative modern expansions, these holdings celebrate Salem’s diversity of architectural styles and illuminate the city’s vibrant history. The collection also includes several architectural fragments and the finest surviving works by Federal period architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire.
One of PEM’s signature properties, the Ropes Mansion, was built from 1727–1729 and was home to four generations of the Ropes family. It is recognized as one of New England's most significant and thoroughly documented historic houses. Filled with original furnishings, the home contains superb examples of 18th- and 19th-century furniture, ceramics, glass, silver, kitchenwares, textiles and personal objects. 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.
Historic Houses & Gardens
Loans and acquisitions
PEM is committed to providing the broadest possible access to its collection through the loan of objects for educational and scholarly purposes. Learn how to request a loan from the museum’s collection.
Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home
Audio & Virtual Tours
PEMcast 8 | Part 1: Historic House Crush
15 min listen
Salem community leaders share a few of their favorite things
18 Min read