Guilt! Greed! Revenge!
So far so good, right? When you attend Spirits of the Gables at The House of the Salem Gables, you will get a fresh perspective on the characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The characters will pull you into the bitter battle between the Maule and Pyncheon families as it plays out in the different rooms of the mansion.
This is a great way to experience the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, but you should consider doing a regular daytime tour as well. Spirits of the Gables brings a work of fiction to life - if you are interested in the historic significance of the mansion, its rooms and its property, do the regular tour.
Across the gardens, in Hawthorne's birthplace, a second dramatic experience awaits - Legacy of the Hanging Judge brings author Nathaniel Hawthorne and his great, great grandfather Judge John Hathorne to life. As you move through the rooms of this historic home, you will meet the afflicted and the accused.
The Gables has assembled an excellent cast this year, and the nature of these performances puts the audience and the actors in very tight quarters. At times the audience is even questioned ("Have you seen my cousin? Is he upstairs?") or accused ("Did you sign the Devil's book? Did you?!") by the actors.
The actors move you through the scenes, delivering their performances and offering their character's perspective on the story, and then ushering you on to the next room (Old Hepzibah - pictured - gets frustrated with the audience when she realizes it isn't going to buy anything, and she ushers it along). If it's raining, be prepared, because you will be out of doors briefly during Spirits of the Gables, and walking to Legacy of the Hanging Judge.
The cafe at the Gables is open and we were happy to warm up with a hot chocolate between performances.
The shows run constantly on weekend evenings during October, and you can buy your tickets in person at the Gables or you can call ahead for reservations. They do sell out, and the ticket lines get long, so you may want to heed this insider's tip: Go early in the day and purchase your tickets for that night!
Finally, each guide told the tours as we entered the houses, and I will tell you now, a portion of all admission tickets purchased for the House of the Seven Gables and its programs funds the House of the Seven Gables Settlement House, which is right across the street. The Settlement House was established by philanthropist Caroline Emerton to educate and support immigrant families coming to Salem to make a new life. It still supports Salem families today with daycare and classes.