About \\ Historic Houses
The Essex Block Neighborhood
The Essex Block Neighborhood 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 city block. As a rule, the buildings whose exteriors are wood-clad have been moved to the site. Those clad in brick or stone are original to the site. Below, we focus on three of the smaller structures located on the block.
Derby-Beebe Summer House
Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Derby-Beebe Summer House:
©2008 Peabody Essex Museum. Photograph by Walter Silver
Garden houses such as this one were based on such structures found on the estates of England that became popular in the late 18th century. They were hidden in little nooks and crannies and were a place of private escape and quiet.
©2021 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
This example was substantially restored to its original appearance in the late 1980s and retains important McIntire carvings. It is one of only three surviving such McIntire summer houses and retains nearly complete historic integrity. The garden view provides a landscape context for what the elites living here in the 18th century would have been looking out on while having their tea.
The Summer House served as a site for garden weddings and can be rented for small events.
Steven Mallory and Dinah Cardin recording PEM Walks. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
The Federal Garden
The federal garden nearby is a replication of the original garden that stood behind the Derby Mansion The plantings are similar to the ones in the original garden -- Heirloom roses, fruit trees, rhododendrons, and all sorts of smaller plantings as ground cover. This garden represents a movement away from the geometric and formal gardens of the earlier 18th century, which can be seen in the Colonial Revival garden in our PEM’s Ropes Mansion Garden.
Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop
Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop:
The Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop is in a small structure known as a ten-footer. These ten-footers were common on the North Shore, a center for shoemaking in the 19th-century. Here, shoes were made by hand. PEM retains an extensive collection of the building’s original contents, including many shoe-making tools and materials.
Very few ten-footers survive today. These shops provided shoes and other leather goods for the pedestrian, agricultural and maritime trades in the days just before the huge factories came in the Industrial revolution. They were noted as small, local centers for news and gossip. This small structure is the only industry related structure in PEM’s architecture collection. It’s significant for its connection to the industries that supported Salem’s success in the international maritime trade. Recent historical analysis confirms that this is the original shoe shop listed in historical records in 1783. The Shoe Shop was originally located in Lynn, MA. After descending through several generations, it was bequeathed to the Essex Institute in 1911 and moved to its current site.
PEM Walks host Dinah Cardin with Steven Mallory, Manager of Historic Structures and Landscapes, in front of the Tapley Shoe Shop. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
Quaker Meeting House
Tune into the PEM Walks audio postcard below to listen to a tour of the Quaker Meeting House: