The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) today announces the reopening of one of its most storied properties, the Crowninshield-Bentley House. The house, one of 22 historic properties stewarded by PEM, is located at 126 Essex Street in Salem, MA and designated by the National Register of Historic Places. Docent-led tours of the house will resume on June 26, and a public opening celebration for the house will take place during Salem Heritage Week in August.
Built at 108 Essex Street in 1727 by fish merchant and ship captain, John Crowninshield, the house was home to one of New England’s most renowned diarists, Reverend William Bentley, from 1791 through 1819. The house was sold to Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel in the late 1940s. The Hawthorne Hotel donated the house to the Essex Institute in 1959, and the house was moved to its present location.
Under the curatorial leadership of Dean Lahikainen, PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts, the house has been restored to its 1794 appearance with the exterior and all public spaces repainted. Restoration efforts thus far included restoration of objects and window treatments, new chimneys, refurbished interior décor and site upgrades.
The next phase of the ongoing Crowninshield-Bentley restoration will include Reverend William Bentley’s library and study. Bentley, whose fame spread far beyond Salem, was a pastor, politician, linguist, naturalist, antiquarian, and diarist. The diary kept by Bentley is considered one of the most important New England diaries of the period.
Tours featuring Crowninshield-Bentley and other PEM historic houses are offered on a daily basis. Further information is available at pem.org.