About \\ Historic Houses

Cotting-Smith House

Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Cotting-Smith House:

About 15 minutes from the main campus of the museum is a clubhouse built for 18th century elites. The Cotting-Smith Assembly House and Carriage Barn is at 138 Federal Street. First constructed in 1782, the space was built for public lectures, dances and concerts. It is listed in the National register of Historic Places, and is within the McIntire Historic District.

Cotting-Smith House column detail

Photo by Allison White/PEM

In 1789, George Washington was entertained here at a ball in his honor, following the close of the Revolutionary War. In 1782, the McIntire District was a fairly new and thinly developed neighborhood at the time and it was a little bit of a hike to get it. The assembly house lasted about 15 years. One particular investor bought out all the other subscribers and owned the building himself. When the building came under single 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 such a pavilion front.

The beautiful Greek revival portico on the front of the house, with the grape vine carvings in the frieze, is 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

Cotting Smith House light detail

Photo by Allison White/PEM

The Cotting-Smith House Assembly House was named that 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 some pieces. 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.

The building can be rented for weddings, memorial services and neighborhood functions. PEM has hosted house concerts in the Cotting-Smith House, including a beautiful evening with Gaby Moreno, featured in this PEM Walks.

Gaby Moreno performing at Cotting Smith House

Photo above and below by Ken Sawyer/PEM