For people in the building trades, The House of the Seven Gables probably looks more like a system of parts than a mansion. Roofs and gables, a central chimney, grand windows, an exceptionally large timber frame and high ceilings — together comprised a home for one of New England’s most wealthy sea captains back in 1668.
Not all great, old mansions survived to the 21st century. Families visiting The Gables over school vacation can see for themselves how The Gables and other historic structures on the National Historic Landmark property on Salem’s waterfront were built. And why they’re still standing.
The family-friendly program, Constructing History at The Gables, is offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, February 15 through Sunday, February 23. It features five different stations where kids and their parents can see how construction materials and techniques were used in early New England. It’s free with the cost of admission. For those who pair the free hands-on program with a tour of the historic mansion, theory transforms to reality in memorable ways.
“What interests folks, among other things, is the idea that houses are put together in pieces,” says Daniel Marshall, manager of visitor services. He says that interactive stations make use of Lego sets, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys to illustrate various aspects of construction. There’s no time limit. Families are free to experiment, make their own houses and talk with the historical interpreter who’s there to make sure all questions are answered.
The Gables is located at 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts. For more information, those interested may visit 7gables.org or call 978-744-0991. Some parking is available.