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House of Seven Gables

For supernatural fans, this is the portal to a shrine. The visitor's center at the House of Seven Gables is brilliantly designed to maximize traffic flow. A large parking lot near the waterfront leads to this opening. Buildings are clustered so that it is all but impossible to see the famous house without going through the tour. The opening video, a slide show really, was produced in 1979, but still tells the story well. Visitors wait in a little room for the next tour to begin.



House of Seven Gables

So here it is. This is very likely the house Hawthorne had in mind when he penned his creepy version of the Salem witch tale. It's a wonderful building, very well cared for and the height of the tour is a trip up the tight winding secret stairway behind the fireplace. Our tour guide gave a robotic reading as if she were in a trance, and dropped us at the gift shop with precise timing. No pictures allowed inside.



Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace

The tour also includes a rapid run through Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace which has been preserved and moved across the quad from the "gable" house. It turns out that Hawthorne only lived here until he was 4. The famous author was later a visitor to our Isles of Shoals and a school mate at Bowdoin of NH's only president, Franklin Pierce. Hawthorne himself was descended from one of the hanging judges at the horrific Salem witch trials.



Twisted Tree

Outside the Hawthorne house is a massive twisted tree. In fact, they are all over the town. Perhaps the gnarled trees and the tourist trade are payback for the 19 innocent citizens sentenced to death back in 1692. But I'll go back, always to the Peabody Museum -- and to the joke shop. We missed the storefront "pirate" museum, a 1630 pioneer village reconstruction -- oh --- and we missed Moby Duck, the amphibious tour vehicle. Good thin NH only sentenced one poor "witch" to death. What goes around, comes around.

Photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
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