J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ropes Mansion Still Saved

Somehow I missed the news in August about how close the Ropes Mansion in Salem came to burning down. Or at least to losing a lot of the artifacts inside. I just read about the fire in the magazine of the Peabody Essex Museum, the mansion’s owner. Thanks to some quick action by museum employees, the only item broken was a glass pitcher.

There was damage to parts of the Ropes Mansion itself: the plaster ceilings and recreated period carpets and wallpaper. However, the interior has been extensively rebuilt twice. A History of the Putnam Family in England and America (1891) reports on previous damage:

Recently it has been moved back [from the street] and is now the residence of the Misses Ropes who have kept the old house externally nearly as it was but the interior unfortunately was recently damaged by fire.
Here’s the Peabody Essex Museum’s press release after the fire, and a Salem News story. The problem apparently began as workers removed paint during an exterior renovation with a heat gun. The Salem Gazette reported that people are reconsidering that method.

For your visual enjoyment, here are some older photos of the mansion from RopesCorner.com, and some shots of its colonial-revival garden.

TOMORROW: The legend of Nathaniel Ropes’s death.

1 comment:

G. Lovely said...

The second greatest threat to historic buildings, behind developers, but ahead of termites, is the careless workman. Take my advice as an architect: do not employ paint removal methods or roofing systems that require flame or even the direct application of heat.