What Are America’s Most Iconic Homes?
According to the National Building Museum, these houses, more than most, have impacted the way we live
- By Megan Gambino
- Smithsonian.com, April 27, 2012
(Model by Studios Eichbaum + Arnold, 2008. Photo by Museum staff.)
The Turner-Ingersoll house, located in Salem, Massachusetts, has the distinction of being the oldest surviving 17th-century wooden mansion in New England. Built by John Turner, a sea captain, in 1668, the original structure contained just two rooms and one enormous central chimney. But three generations of Turners as well as Samuel Ingersoll, who purchased the home in 1782, funded several additions, expanding it into a 17-room, 8,000-square-foot mansion.
“This house is architecturally powerful, but it is drawing a lot of its emotional power through literary associations,” says Mellins. Writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born just blocks away, was a cousin of Ingersoll’s daughter Susanna. He frequently visited the mansion said to be the inspiration of his 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. The book begins, “Halfway down a bystreet of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.”
Now called the House of the Seven Gables, the mansion has dark-stained siding and small rectangular windows, but its most dominant—and replicated—feature is its gabled roof.