— In celebration of Old Ironsides’ close connections to Salem and her historic waterfront, The House of the Seven Gables presents an illustrated lecture by Margherita M. Desy, the naval historian for the USS Constitution. This lecture, in the series ‘Seven Lectures at Seven Gables,’ takes place Wednesday, August 2, at 6 p.m. in the Visitor Center at 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts. The lecture is free for members of The Gables and $7 for the public. Those interested may register online at 7gables.org/event-calendar; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 978-744-0991, ext. 152.
This year The House of the Seven Gables explores the roles that labor has played at its National Historic Landmark District. In 1668, successful maritime endeavors were responsible for the erection of The House of the Seven Gables. Maritime activities remained important to subsequent families who occupied the home after its first owner, sea captain John Turner.
In honor of Salem’s proud maritime history, Desy, maritime historian and curator, will speak about USS Constitution’s history and her close connections to Salem’s harbor.
For nearly 150 of her 220-year career, USS Constitution has called Boston her home port. From the building of the massive frigate in Boston’s North End, to staffing the ship with sailors and Marines through “houses of rendezvous” in the city, to her repairs after battle at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the life of Old Ironsides has been inextricably entwined with Boston. Desy’s illustrated presentation will cover the building of Constitution, the service of U.S. Navy sailors and Marines in the War of 1812 when she battled the Royal Navy, the largest navy in the western world, and the tremendous skill and effort that it takes to preserve a national icon.
Desy is a curator and historian of New England maritime and early U.S. Navy histories. She is employed by the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston as historian for USS Constitution. She previously worked for Historic New England, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, and, for 20 years, at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. Desy taught for fourteen years in the Museum Studies Program in Tufts University’s Graduate and Professional Studies Department. She has studied at the College of the Holy Cross, George Washington University, and Sotheby’s Institute in London. She has been published in scholarly and popular journals and has been script advisor and on-camera historian for several PBS television shows and documentaries broadcast in the U.S. and Europe.