The House of the Seven Gables is adorable, as is pretty much everything in Salem, MA. Hawthorne never lived in the House, but he speculated about it and wrote his collection of short stories about it. The property that the House is on also now has Nathaniel Hawthorne’s boyhood home– the historical society bought it, sawed it in half, and moved it over for historical tourism convenience.
The seven gables tour is rad because it has secret passages (yay for secret passages!), narrow, winding secret passages behind concealed doors, but it is less rad because it really has very little to do with Nathaniel Hawthorne. It mostly deals with the Turner family, who lived there for three generations, and then the philanthropic woman who paid to have the house restored for touristic purposes. The tour of the Seven Gables House is guided, unfortunately, our guide was woefully sub-par. The tour of Hawthorne’s boyhood home is self-guided, but much more interesting.
I read Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter in school and there was a little discussion about Hawthorne’s life, but I didn’t realize what a reclusive and rather strange man he was. At the age of about 10-years-old, he suffered a minor injury, which should have had no lasting consequences. He then lived as an invalid for the next ten years even though physicians could find nothing wrong with him. I re-read his Wikipedia article recently, and noticed that the first 20 years of his life are just glossed over.
There were a couple of ancient women whose job it is to sit in the boyhood home and answer questions. I asked one about his period of seclusion, and she just scoffed and said, “yeah, he was kind of a wuss.”
Hawthorne also waited until he was 36 to get married, and married a woman who was 32. Neither had been married before, and knew each other for five years before making it official. So Hawthorne was a plodding, meditative man– not one to rush into anything.
Also in Salem is the Custom House, where Hawthorne worked, and the inspiration for his story– The Custom House, which usually serves as an introduction to The House of the Seven Gables.