History of the Restoration

historyIn 1917, the Sargent House and grounds were acquired by a group of early preservationists and history enthusiasts.

Within two years the house had been restored under the guidance of restoration architect Joseph Chandler (1864-1945), furnished appropriately, and opened to the public. Today, the Sargent House looks as it might have during Judith Sargent Murray’s lifetime.

The museum features one of the finest small collections of early American furnishings in the region displayed along side textiles, ceramics, portraits, and treasured heirlooms.

Visitors learn about the early history of Gloucester, from its beginnings as a farming and lumbering outpost, to its evolution into the county’s premier seaport. Visitors will also see a collection of original works by the great portrait painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) who traces his roots back to Colonial Gloucester.

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Apr

11

2009

Membership

A strong membership base is vital to The Sargent House Museum.

The museum’s membership is its core constituency. From the membership comes our audiences at programs and events held throughout the year. Volunteers who fulfill a range of roles in the organization — from docents to board members — also spring from the membership. In financial terms, membership dollars are an important source of revenue.

While dues alone will not fund all our activities, they do help us keep the doors of the museum open and assist us in preserving one of the finest small collections of furniture and decorative arts in the region. Please consider becoming a member of The Sargent House Museum today and thank you for your support.

As a member of The Sargent House Museum you receive the following benefits:

  • Free admission to the museum
  • Free or discounted admission to special programs and events
  • Advance notice of events and programs
  • A subscription to The Dolphin, the museum newsletter
  • Various other benefits determined by category – contact the museum for details

Annual membership rates

  • $15.00 Student
  • $35.00 Individual
  • $60.00 Family
  • $200.00 Contributing
  • $500.00 Corporate
  • $1000.00 Donor

To become a member, you may fill out the form below or call us.

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Apr

11

2009

Collections

Coming soon – featured items from the collection!

The Sargent House Museum parlor

The Sargent House Museum parlor

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Apr

11

2009

Tour the Museum

Judith Sargent Murray was born in Gloucester into a prominent seafaring family and through years of dedicated work gained recognition during her lifetime in literary and political

Photo credit Michael Malyszko

Photo credit Michael Malyszko

circles. She was married twice, first to Captain John Stevens who constructed the house, and then to the Reverend John Murray, founder of Universalism in America.

Judith Sargent Murray is noted as one of this country’s earliest feminist writers, a recognition she secured with the 1790 publication of her essay “On the Equality of the Sexes.” Murray was also one of the first women in America to have her own literary column and the first American to have a play produced on the Boston stage. In addition to writing plays, essays, poems and fiction, Murray was an avid writer of letters. Between 1774 and the early 1800s, she penned over 2,000 letters–and fortunately for us today, kept a copy of each and every one. Taken together the letters form an insightful and provocative account of the life of one of this country’s most amazing women.

The Sargent House was built as a small yet visually impressive mansion; it continues to delight visitors today.

The exterior displays classic Georgian symmetry–a porticoed entry flanked by stately windows and contained by heavy pilasters at the building’s corners. The exterior also features a double-hipped roof, a modillioned cornice, and wooden quoins. The interior has long been noted for its remarkable paneling and decorative woodwork.

Photo credit Michael Malyszko

Photo credit Michael Malyszko

Foremost is the central entrance hall with its magnificent stairway supporting an undercut spiral newel post, two types of spiral balusters, and a long arched window at the landing.

The carved cornice found in the entrance hall is repeated in the parlor. Conceived of as the showcase of the family, the parlor is dominated by an elaborate fireplace with a broken-pedimented mantel and overmantel and a double level of columns. Arched recesses are found on either side of the fireplace and the paneled dado is complimented by original pocket-shutters on the windows overlooking the front yard. This room contains some of the museum’s finest pieces of furniture including a set of six straight chairs made in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and owned for many years the Sargent family.

This room also once housed the portrait of Judith Sargent done by John Singleton Copley just prior to the Revolutionary War, now on display at the Chicago Institute of Art.

photo credit Michael Malyszko

photo credit Michael Malyszko

The dining room of the house exhibits blue and white French wallpaper given by portraitist John Singer Sargent in the early 1920s.

A fascinating collection of china, glassware, and silver by John Burt (1691-1745) and Paul Revere (1734 -1818) is displayed in the room along with an early view of Gloucester harbor.

The handsome paneling continues on the second floor of the Sargent House. The room above the dining room is particularly noteworthy and, in fact, was said to have once been desired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for their own historic rooms.

Displayed in this room is a collection of early Boston furniture from the Hough family who owned the Sargent House for much of the 19th century. A highboy and a lowboy made prior to the Revolution are exhibited as is a drop-front desk originally owned by Captain Ebenezer Hough who perished at sea in 1784.

In 2002, The Sargent House Museum completed a major restoration of the roof of its 1782 building. The project was made possible by a generous grant from the Preservation Projects Fund of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and by the support of individuals and businesses who have contributed to the museum’s Restoration Fund in recent years. The work, which included restoration of two chimneys and installation of a new wood shingle roof, was overseen by preservation consultants Finch & Rose of Beverly, Massachusetts, and helps assure preservation of the building for generations to come.  A recently awarded grant from Massachusetts Cultural Council will fund repair of the building’s exterior.

Work done on the Sargent House gives the museum a very visible means of sharing its preservation philosophy with the public — a philosophy that emphasizes stabilization over reconstruction and restoration over replacement.

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The Sargent House Museum
49 Middle Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
(978) 281-2432
email: sargenthouse@verizon.net

The Sargent House is open for hourly guided tours Memorial Day to Columbus Day,
Friday through Sunday, 11:00AM 12:00PM to 4:00PM. Last tour begins at 3:00PM.

Groups are welcome–please call ahead for special arrangments.

Programs and events are held throughout the year.

Admission rates:
$7.50 adults
$5.00 senior citizens over 65

Museum members and children under 12 are admitted free.

If you’d like further information, please use this form to contact us.

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Apr

05

2009

Home Page Article

The Sargent House Museum

Photo by Ellen Higgins

Welcome to The Sargent House Museum. For over 100 years, the Sargent House Museum was the home of sea merchants, patriots and community leaders. A fine example of high-style Georgian domestic architecture, the house was built in 1782 for Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820), a philosopher, writer and an early advocate of women’s equality.

Visitors to the Sargent House Museum learn about the early history of Gloucester from its beginnings as a farming and lumbering outpost to its evolution into the country’s premier seaport. Visitors will also see a collection of original works by the great portrait painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) descendant of the Sargent family, who loved the house and its ties to Colonial Gloucester.

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The Sargent House Museum is located at 49 Middle Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Click on the map marker below to get directions from your location to us.

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