All the News from the Salem Inn and In Salem

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Ropes Mansion and Garden, 318 Essex Street, Salem, MA

The Ropes Mansion was filmed as Alison's house in the movie Hocus Pocus

This is another little-known jewel in Salem, right across the street from the Curwen House of the Salem Inn.  The Ropes Mansion, a stark white beauty, was built in 1727 in the Georgian style.  The Georgian Style, named for the four King Georges of England, was based on classical Roman architecture that was sparked by the discoveries of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Nero's Dome. The house was renovated in 1894 in the Colonial Revival style, a nationalistic response to the centennial of the Revolution.  The house was also moved back from the street.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is owned and maintained by the Peabody Essex Museum.  The house is closed to the public but the gardens are open year-round.

The Ropes Mansion once housed three generations of Salem's Ropes family. The house was built for Samuel Barnard, a merchant. In 1768, Judge Nathaniel Ropes, Jr., purchased the house from Barnard's nephew. The Ropes family then inhabited the house until 1907, when the house was given to the Trustees of the Ropes Memorial for public benefit.

The house is considered to be one of the most haunted in Salem.  Nathaniel Ropes was an unpopular Loyalist judge and died of smallpox whilst his house was being stoned by a rabble outside in 1774. His wife Abigail burnt to death after her dress caught fire from the fireplace in 1839.  Both are said to haunt the house.

  The Ropes Mansion, seen from the garden 

The garden was designed and laid out in 1912 by John Robinson, in a style that would have been an appropriate match to the Colonial Revival style of the house.  It is a formal garden, with a symmetrical layout of curving paths that ring a central sundial.  There is a full-time gardener who maintains the impeccable grounds and grows an astounding array of flowers.  Roses, dahlias, delphinium, and hydrangea, to name a few.

There are benches throughout the garden, and a giant beech tree to sit under.  It is the ideal place to sit and contemplate, read, or walk with a loved one.  Kids are welcome here and they love the stocked koi pond.  The garden is open year-round and is free.

One of the many pathways.  The stone edifice is the First Church of Salem, a  Universalist Unitarian church built in 1836


  1. So nice to see it blossoming again. Although it was fun sliding on the fish pond in the winter.

  2. I know the mansion suffered damage due to a fire several years ago, but the last time I was in Salem I noted that the house has still not reopened. What are the plans to reopen?

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