John Ward House

A National Historic Landmark, the Built John Ward House in Salem, Mass., was built around 1684.

One of the earliest buildings to be moved and restored for historic purposes, it was originally on a one-acre plot featuring a kitchen garden, outhouse and a well, opposite the jail used during the infamous Salem witch trials that began in 1692.

It’s one of the finest surviving 17th-century buildings in New England.

“Like many First Period dwellings, it was originally built as a half-house, with a parlor, chamber, porch, large chimney, and stairway,” says the Essex National Heritage Area website. “After several additions to make it a whole house, the building took on its current characteristics: extremely steep pitched gables, asymmetrical façade, central chimney, batten door, diamond-paned leaded casement windows, and second story overhang.”

Ward died in 1734, but was sharing the house with his son, Benjamin, who inherited the property. It remained in the family until 1816, when it was sold at auction.

Temple Hardy then bought the house and lived there for 40 years, operating a bakery out of the home. Afterward, it was converted to a tenement house, which lasted until 1910.

Side view

It was then moved to its current location, three blocks away, by splitting it in two and rolling it on ox-drawn logs (!).

Antiquarian George Francis Dow oversaw its 1912 restoration, which included decoration to meet his idea of the house around 1700. However, parts of the house were opened to the public one year prior, making it the first outdoor museum of architecture in the country.

It is part of the Peabody Essex Museum’s house collection, and is open for guided tours.

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