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Author, Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in this 1750 Georgian home at 27 Union Street on July 4, 1804, to Elizabeth Clark Manning and Capt. Nathaniel Hathorne Sr. The home belonged to Hathorne’s family and was adjacent to the Manning family home.
Elizabeth described Hawthorne's birth in a letter to her granddaughter following his death in 1864. She wrote: "Your father was born in 1804, on the 4th of July, in the chamber over the little parlour in the house in Union Street, which then belonged to my grandmother [Rachel Phelps] Hathorne, who lived in one part of it... I remember that one morning my mother called my brother into her room, next to the one where we slept, and told him that his father was dead. He left very little property, and my grandfather [Richard] Manning took us home." The family lived in the home until 1808 when her husband died of yellow fever while at sea.
In 1882, William F. White purchased the home already then well-known as Hawthorne’s Birthplace. William was born in Ireland around 1840. He immigrated to the United States in 1862, where he worked as a laborer in Salem’s paving department. In 1865, he married his wife, Margaret, also from Ireland. Together, the couple had five children, three of whom survived into adulthood: Mary A. (b. 1866), Robert F. (b. 1872), and William J. (b. 1875). At the time, the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood was predominantly an Irish enclave and was anchored by the Church of Immaculate Conception, which sat only one block away from the home on present-day Hawthorne Boulevard.
The White family seemed to have little interest in the home's connection to Nathaniel Hawthorne, denying requests from museums, universities, and even the Chicago World's Fair to study or purchase the home.
In 1957, the Hawthorne Birthplace was bequeathed to a Catholic charity by the White’s son, William J.’s wife, Catherine. The charity ultimately decided to sell the home, which was then purchased by the trustees of The House of the Seven Gables. In 1958, under the guidance of respected architect Abbott Lowell Cummings, the museum relocated Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace to their grounds abutting Hardy Street and for the first time, opened the building to the public.
Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace Photographs and Ephemera
The Historic Derby Street Neighborhood Blog Post
The House of the Seven Gables Blog Post
Fifth Annual Report of the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association
Seventh Annual Report: of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association