Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stephen Phillips House

Very few museums are still free in this era of rapid increases in admission fees. This is the last summer that the Stephen Phillips House will still give free tours. Historic New England has acquired the property and will charge admission starting next year. In the meantime, it is a real bargain in the MacIntyre District of Salem, MA.

On both visits I have had excellent docents that were well informed and interesting. The house has a long history including five generations of Stephen Phillipses and a divorce in which half the house was moved from four miles away. A good guide can explain it all while talking about the furnishings, which are all original to the house. Also of interest, half the house is Federal style architecture and the other half is Colonial revival. It is well worth a short trip on the commuter rail from Boston.

The Persian carpets, oil paintings, antique furniture, dental moldings, Polynesian war clubs, and large plate collection, all make for an interesting interior. Outside is the carriage house that features a vintage Ford, two Pierce Arrow automobiles custom made in Buffalo, NY, a sleigh, and several carriages. It was originally designed as a cow barn and later had stalls for horses. The last male resident, Stephen Phillips V, drove his three ton Pierce Arrow around Salem through the mid 1950s. Whether you drive or take the commuter rail, go see this house museum.


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