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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!), Misc 205narrow, 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.”

I love old ladies who just don’t give a damn.Misc 209

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.

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I mentioned a while ago, that Jewish Friend and I went superfunadventuring to Salem for a trip to the House of the Seven Gables.  More recently, we made a daytrip to Concord, MA to visit Orchard House, and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s estate.  The plan is to embrace this summer of underemployment and use this deluge of time wisely– fill it with learning.  The response to my photos from the Concord trip was almost overwhelming, and many people commented on how much fun it seemed to be (and it was!). It occurs to me that maybe people who are interested in this kind of thing, don’t know what all we have at our disposal here in the Northeast.

Since I’m a nerd, and have a lot of time on my hands, I made a list– what I think is the definitive list of literary tourism in this part of the country.  I’m going to hit as many places as I can, and do a little write-up of each.  Since I’ve eaten almost all of the mac and cheese Providence has to offer, I have to have opinions about something.

Here’s the list:

Massachusetts:

Concord:

Orchard House— house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women and lived for many years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson House— self-explanatory.

Walden Pond— Pond where H.D. Thoreau camped out and wrote smug essays.

Wayside— Another home occupied by the Alcott family, and the only home that Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in outside of Salem.

The Old Manse— Place where R.W. Emerson lived before settling in his later estate.  Also, Mosses from an Old Manse by Hawthorne…

Amherst:

Emily Dickinson Museum— Self explanatory

Fall River:

Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast— Not exactly literary, but a lot of books have been written about Lizzie.  If you stay there overnight, which is grossly overpriced, you must vacate your room at 11, 1, and 3 so the proprietors can run tours through it, but they serve you a breakfast similar to the one the Borden’s consumed on that fateful day– hilarious.

Pittsfield:

Melville’s Arrowhead-– You can find Melville stuff all over this area, plus there are two annual marathon readings of Moby Dick, one of which allows you to stay on an actual whaling ship (if you book early).  Arrowhead is the estate where Melville and his family settled and lived for 13 years, during which time he wrote extensively.

Springfield:

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden— Awesome.

Connecticut:

Hartford:

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center— I really don’t care for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and I have no idea what else Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, but what better way to learn?

Mark Twain House and Museum— My parents have find memories of Twaining in Hannibal, MO, but all they have there is his boyhood stuff.  In Connecticut, you get Twain as adult, and can view his beautiful 19-room Victorian estate.

Lenox:

The Mount–Edith Warton’s country estate– huge, beautiful, designed by Edith Warton.  Sassy Redhead has visited this place already, and seems very happy in pictures.

Cambridge:

The Longfellow House–occupied by H.W. Longfellow from 1837 to 1882.

New York:

Tarrytown:

Sunnyside— Home of Washington Irving.  I’ve wanted to visit Tarrytown since I was about 9-years-old and first read Otherwise Known as Sheila The Great.  In that particular book, Sheila Tubman, menace to Peter of Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing Fame, leaves NYC for a summer in Tarrytown.  A friend of hers lives in Washington Irving’s old house (which is clearly not true, but really cool, I thought).  This was the first time it dawned on me that you could go to places where authors had lived and wrote, and I’ve been desperate to go ever since.  The fact that I’ve lived this close for a year and a half is something that I’m not very proud of, but it is what it is.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery--I’m not terrifically excited to go to a cemetery, but these old ones can be pretty cool. Also, you can’t do a literary tour without Sleepy Hollow– for reals.

Cooperstown:

Fenimore House--Just what it sounds like.  Apparently, there’s a Cooper house in New Jersey too…

Vermont:

Dummerston:

Naulakha (Kipling House)-– Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while living in the mountains of Vermont.

Shaftsbury:

Robert Frost Museum–Just what it sounds like.  I don’t care much for Frost, which is why this is last on the list.