About \\ Historic Houses

Ropes Mansion

Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Ropes Mansion, located at 318 Essex Street in Salem:

Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Ropes Mansion Garden:

The stately 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.

Purple Iris in the Ropes Garden

© 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

You can’t visit the Mansion without being dazed by its garden. The original landscape design was created in the Colonial Revival style by John Robinson in 1912.

Ropes Mansion garden, 1915-1916

Ropes Mansion garden, 1915-1916. Peabody Essex Museum.

It calls for nearly 5,000 annual flowers to be planted each year. Today, the garden is maintained according to Robinson’s original notes, including guidance on perennials and annuals. There is also a beautiful historic greenhouse and potting shed nearby.

Ropes Mansion Greenhouse

© 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

Open from dawn to dusk, this secret feeling space is visited by dog walkers, book readers, picnicers, painters and nature lovers of all ages.

A sign in the Garden

Photo by Dinah Cardin

Young family in Ropes Garden
Young family in Ropes Garden
Young family in Ropes Garden
A handmade sign in Ropes Garden

Families planting the Ropes Gardens this spring. Photos by Dinah Cardin

Tall beech tree behind the Ropes Mansion

A hundred year old copper beech tree has been recently tested for disease and is being saved by scientists and staff. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM

A man hanging from ropes is working on a beech tree

The mansion was built from 1727–1729 and is filled with stories from the Ropes Family. In 1893, three unmarried Ropes sisters living in Cincinnati decided to move to Salem upon learning that the Ropes Mansion, along with a sizable fortune, had been left to them. The sisters conceived an ambitious plan to transform the mansion into a comfortable home for themselves, and make preparations for it to become Salem’s first historic house museum.

A front view of the Ropes Mansion and fence

Visiting Salem in October? Check out the Ropes Mansion, with its Hocus Pocus inspired decorations. Photo by Dinah Cardin.

The rooms inside the home witnessed birth, death, friendship, celebration and mourning — all of which left a legacy in the objects the family kept and displayed. Filled with original furnishings, this Georgian Colonial house, which was reinvented as a colonial revival mansion at the end of the 19th century, contains superb examples of 18th and 19th-century furniture, ceramics and glass, silver, kitchenwares, textiles and personal objects.

An interior view of a fireplace mantle wth shells in teh Ropes Mansion

Mantle with shells in the Ropes mansion. Photo courtesy of Angela Segalla.

After a fire in 2009, the house was completely restored and reopened to the public in 2015 with a whole new interpretative experience. Now visitors are invited to freely circulate throughout 15 rooms of the home, exploring the property at their own pace. Hands-on interactive experiences encourage guests to explore the house's stories layer by layer.

© 2015 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Walter Silver.

© 2015 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Walter Silver.

The Ropes Mansion house tours will resume Memorial Day weekend. Thanks for listening to PEM Walks. Schedule your museum visit and listen to more at pem.org.

UPDATE: We're pleased to report positive news about the status of the copper beech tree in the Ropes Mansion Garden. The results of recent topography scans by UMass plant pathologist Dr. Nicholas Brazee revealed that the decay present appears to be confined to a small area immediately surrounding the location of the conk in the lower trunk and does not encompass a large percentage of the tree. No immediate action is needed at the time.

As advised, PEM will continue to closely monitor the tree in the months ahead. We ask that visitors please adhere to the posted signage and avoid walking on the roots or carving initials into the trunk. We encourage everyone to come and enjoy the views and the shade of this majestic beauty and the tranquil garden, which is open every day from dawn to dusk.