On the Water: Salem & the North Shore Fall Symposium


September 15-19, 2021

Enjoy a wonderful coastal New England experience on Massachusetts’s North Shore, a region abounding with historic houses and impressive collections. Founded in 1629, Salem, the “City of Peace,” is of great importance. The second oldest settlement in New England (four years before Boston), Salem contains a rich maritime history built on international trade. This vibrant, pedestrian-friendly port town is best known for the infamous Witchcraft Trials of 1692 but features a bevy of beautifully preserved architecture, ranging from the late 17th century onward. Participants registering for the pre- and post-symposium tours will have the opportunity to explore the larger region, from Newburyport to Marblehead. 


Symposium Schedule  (subject to amendment)  

Thursday, September 16, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Salem Waterfront Hotel

Welcoming Remarks and Opening Program

The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
A 40-Year Contribution to the Decorative Arts of Salem
A conversation with Dean Lahikainen, The Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art, Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), and Elizabeth Lahikainen, upholstery conservator
Hosted by Karina Corigan, Associate Director for Collections and the H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art, PEM

Opening Reception

Sponsored by: 

Friday, September 17, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Out and About in Salem

Following introductory lectures on Salem’s development and architecture, we depart from the Salem Waterfront Hotel for a day exploring an array of historic houses. A team of architectural historians orchestrates a sequence of walking tours to orient us to the scope of the town. At mid-day, we break for lunch at Hamilton Hall, an important building designed in 1805 by Salem’s premier Federal-era architect and master woodcarver, Samuel McIntire, which features his famous flexible spring ballroom floor. While enjoying lunch, we hear about the Remond family, the African American caterers who operated the Hall in the 19th century.

The tour includes a splendid selection of houses. A masterpiece of Federal architecture by Samuel McIntire, the interior of the Gardner-Pingree House (1804) features lavishly-carved woodwork including fireplace mantels, cornices, internal window shutters, and stairway balustrades.

The Pickering House is Salem’s oldest house, built in 1660 by settler John Pickering, an English immigrant carpenter. The house’s library contains Revolutionary War documents, artifacts, and portraits, and the dining room showcases entertaining in the early 1800s. The garden features a variety of historic trees.

Samuel McIntire designed the Peirce-Nichols House (c. 1782) in a transitional style between the late-Georgian and early-Federal modes and then remodeled portions of the house in a full Neoclassical taste 20 years later. The estate originally swept down to the North River, where Captain Jerathmiel Peirce could dock his ship at the foot of his own property.

The Phillips House (c. 1821) sits on Salem’s famed Chestnut Street. Remodeled by the Phillips family shortly after purchasing the house in 1911, the dwelling combines a Federal exterior with a Colonial Revival interior. The kitchen, pantry, and a domestic staff bedroom present a rarely seen picture of how great houses were adapted to meet modern conveniences.

Please see details below about Friday evening’s Benefit Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the home of Jonathan Loring in Prides Crossing, MA. 

Saturday, September 18, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm 

Peabody Essex Museum 

Preview of American Decorative Arts in the Putnam Galleries of Native and American Art
Sarah Chasse, Associate Curator 

Aesthetic and Cultural Hybridity in the Decorative Arts
Karina Corigan, Associate Director-Collections and H. A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art

New Research in Maritime Art
Dan Finamore, Associate Director-Exhibitions and Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History

Lunch is served in the historic East India Marine Hall where we benefit from remarks on the East India Marine Society by George Schwartz, Associate Curator for Exhibitions and Research.

In the afternoon, we have the privilege of curator-guided tours at the Peabody Essex Museum, enjoying an exclusive behind-the-scenes exploration of new galleries and special exhibitions. The curatorial staff shares how they reinterpreted this renowned collection to tell compelling stories about the ongoing cultural exchanges between Salem and the wider world. We have the opportunity to delve into installations of the museum’s world-class holdings of Asian export art, fashion and design, maritime art, American decorative arts, and a special visit to Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside China.

Sunday, September 19, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm 

Salem Waterfront Hotel 

Will the Real Mr. King Please Stand Up? Cabinetmaker William King of Salem
Kemble Widmer, Independent Historian, and Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts, Winterthur

The Art of Japanning: A Look Beyond the 18th Century
Christine Thomson, Furniture Conservator, and Tara Cederholm, Curator, The Crosby Company

John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
“Out on the Waters!”: Image and Meaning in an Indian Princess Ship Figurehead
Sybil F. Johnson, PhD Candidate, Boston University

The Marie Zimmerman Emerging Scholar Lecture
“Turn to Nature”: Joseph Everett Chandler’s Colonial Revival Transforma­tion of Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens
Katharine F. Grant, Curatorial Fellow, The Trustees of Reservations

Symposium concludes


Pre-Symposium Optional Tour 1:  

Wednesday and Thursday, September 15-16

Departing Salem for Beverly, our first stop is at Long Hill (1916), a Colonial Revival brick house containing early-19th-century interiors from a Federal-style Charleston mansion. This stately dwelling was the summer home of noted author and editor Ellery Sedgwick and his family until 1978. The five acres of cultivated grounds are laid out in a series of garden “rooms” that blend seamlessly into the surrounding woodlands.

Castle Hill (1928) near Ipswich is part of a 2,100-acre estate that features incredible gardens, sweeping views of the Atlantic, and the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard T. Crane, Jr. The talented Chicago architect David Adler and the renowned Olmsted Brothers designed the house and land¬scape, respectively. The ornate terraced gardens feature a magnificent grass mall, the recently rejuvenated Italian Rose Garden, and the delightful Casino, where we enjoy lunch.

The 18th-century Cogswell’s Grant in Essex was the summer home of pioneering American folk and decorative arts collectors Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little. The rooms overflow with beautiful and curious 18th- and 19th-century objects that the Little’s amassed over 60 years, offering a unique and important perspective on early Americana collecting.

Perched on Gloucester’s Eastern Point, Beauport is an enchanting Arts and Crafts-style cottage with a heralded collection of decorative arts. The home of Henry Davis Sleeper, one of the country’s first professional interior designers, Beauport was enormously influential on Henry Francis du Pont as he set out to reimagine Winterthur. Touring its maze of rooms offers a romantic exploration of design and history. Our visit concludes with a reception in the garden overlooking Cape Ann.

We enjoy an overnight stay at the splendid Beauport Inn in Gloucester, a modern building that incorporates historic architectural details to create a uniquely comfortable space (included in registration fee).

The morning opens with a visit to the Cape Ann Museum, which preserves and celebrates the history and culture of the North Shore and houses the largest collection of Fitz Henry Lane maritime and landscape paintings as well as many works by other prominent artists inspired by the area. We will also tour a new campus that opened in 2021 and includes a collections storage facility and three historic structures.

Following a delicious seaside lunch at the Singing Beach Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, we visit an expansive 1870s summer house featuring an eclectic collection of Asian decorative arts and American paintings. Now the year-round residence of a Massachusetts-based photographer, we have the chance to visit her studio as well.

Pre-Symposium Optional Tour 2:  

Wednesday and Thursday, September 15-16

Departing Salem for North Andover, we reach Stevens-Coolidge Place, an 18th-century farm that was adapted as a rural retreat in the 19th century. This summer home received an elegant Colonial Revival makeover by Joseph Chandler on behalf of John Gardner Coolidge. Our visit highlights the tre¬mendous cataloguing and preservation project that has revitalized the house.

The Historic New England curatorial staff takes us for an exclusive look inside their collections storage and conservation labs in Haverhill. This newly renovated, state-of-the-art facility houses the organization’s exemplary decorative arts collection.

Following lunch, we continue to Newburyport, which was first settled in 1635 and grew to prominence in the 18th century through shipbuilding and mercantile activity.

A 1797 Federal house was undergoing extensive restoration when we last visited, including returning both exterior and interiors to original paint colors and installing historic window glass. That daunting task is now complete, allowing a study of the couples’ collection of mid-to-late-18th-century furni¬ture documented to Salem and the North Shore.

The Cushing House (1678) is a 21-room Federal house decked out with fine furnishings and decorative pieces from the region. Collections of portraits, silver, needlework, clocks, and early photographs are displayed, not to mention the impressive holdings highlighting Newburyport’s early trade with China.

The day concludes with a reception hosted by Trust Governor Tara Cederholm and her husband, KC, at their early-19th-century house.

We retire to the Garrison Inn, an elegant boutique hotel in a landmark building constructed in 1809 (included in registration fee).

The morning begins in nearby Newbury and a visit to the late-17th-century Coffin House, which was occupied by the Coffins over three centuries and contains many family furnishings. The house provides fascinating insight into domestic life in rural New England.

Across the street sits the Peter Toppan House, which was built in 1697, with a major addition about 1730. The owners have assembled an exemplary collection appropriate for a coastal Massachusetts home, including furniture, stoneware, metalwork, textiles, and prints.

We proceed to Ipswich for a bespoke tour and fabulous lunch at Castle Hill before finishing the outing at Cogswell’s Grant.

Post-Symposium Optional Tour: 

Sunday, September 19, 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Our Sunday excursion starts on Marblehead Neck with lunch at the Corinthian Yacht Club, which provides stunning views of Marblehead’s old town from across the harbor.

Upon reaching Marblehead proper, we benefit from an introduction to the port’s history at the Town Hall (1876) from Judy Anderson a historian of Marblehead decorative art and architecture. Judy brings us on a stroll through the town’s extensive 18th-century built environment, including some of the nearly 300 houses that survive from before 1775, when Marblehead was the tenth most populous metropolis in British North America and second largest in Massachusetts. We include a stop at a lovely privately owned 18th century dwelling

The King Hooper Mansion was built in 1728 for merchant Robert “King” Hooper and enlarged to its present size in 1745. Once the storefront of renowned antiques dealer Israel Sack, the house showcases preserved interiors and is admired for its lovely gardens.

Across the corner from the Hooper Mansion sits the Marblehead Museum’s J.O.J. Frost Folk Art Gallery, named for an early-20th-century untrained artist who painted historic scenes using materials he had on hand. Participants also have the opportunity to enjoy workshops on 18th-century Marblehead furniture or the Arts and Crafts-period Marblehead Pottery.

The Colonel Jeremiah Lee Mansion (1768) was built for the wealthiest merchant in Colonial Massachusetts. Many of the Mansion’s original decorative elements have been preserved, including rare 18th-century English hand-painted wallpapers, the only such wall treatments surviving in place. The house features an outstanding collection of decorative arts, including furniture from Boston, Salem, and Marblehead.

Our day concludes with the rare opportunity to enjoy a festive reception in an elegant 18th-century space, as we gather in the Lee Mansion’s parlor to toast five days of exploration on the North Shore. 


Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the Home of Jonathan Loring

Friday, September 17, 6:00 pm

We are honored by the kind invitation to visit the home of Jonathan Loring, perched high above Salem Sound in Prides Crossing. A long-time member of the Decorative Arts Trust and an enthusiastic supporter of the Emerging Scholars Program, Jonathan is a descendant of multiple Salem ship captains. His 1940s house contains fine examples of Boston, North Shore, and Portsmouth furniture, and a distinctive art collection, including Boston-area artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, 18th century maps, and an extensive representation of watercolors by the Georgian-era English artist, Thomas Rowlandson.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our host’s hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2021, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program in spite of the continued hindrances of the pandemic.


Hotel: Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites, 225 Derby Street,

Special Room Rates: A block of rooms is reserved for September 14–20. Full, Queen, and King Superior Rooms are $209, except for Friday and Saturday, which are $289. A limited number of Suites are available for $309, except for Friday and Saturday, which are $389. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until August 3. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 888.337.2536 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.

Travel: Salem is only 15 miles north of Boston Logan Airport. Transportation can be arranged through Boston Chauffeur at 978-921-4334. If driving, parking for overnight guests is complimentary.


Registration fee: $1,025 per person, which includes all lectures, tours, meals, receptions, and transportation referenced in symposium brochure as well as a $50 tax-deductible donation to the Dewey Lee Curtis Scholarship Fund to underwrite symposium scholarships (see below). Participants may elect to make an additional donation through registration.

Dewey Lee Curtis Symposium Scholarships: The Trust awards two scholarships per symposium for graduate students or young professionals. Applications can be submitted through the Trust’s website and are due by August 4.

Optional programs: The Pre-Symposium Optional Tours are $625 for a single registration, $975 for two participants sharing a room. Prices include hotel accommodations for the night. The Post-Symposium Optional Tour is $325 per person. The Friday evening fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program is $250 per person, fully tax deductible. All fees include transportation, admission, and food and beverage as referenced in the symposium brochure. Registration for optional programs is limited.

Itinerary: The schedule, sites, and events outlined in this itinerary are subject to change as necessary.

Membership: All participants must be members of the Decorative Arts Trust. Please select a level of membership if you are not currently a member: Student & Young Professional $25; Individual $50; Dual $90;  Patron $150; Benefactor $300; Sponsor $500; Director $1,000; Ambassador $2,500; Champion $5,000. For a list of membership benefits, visit Members at the Sponsor level and above are invited to a special event during the symposium. 

Cancellation and Refund: All cancellations received prior to June 30, 2021, are subject to a full refund less a $100 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between June 30 and August 15, 2021, will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after August 15, 2021.

Participation: The program is limited to a maximum of 50 members. We will organize and maintain waiting lists on the basis of the time registrations are received.



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