The Salisbury Mansion was built in 1772 by a wealthy Boston merchant, Mr. Stephen Salisbury. The original house was partly retail for his dry goods store and another portion was utilized as a residential dwelling for himself. In 1929, the building was left to the American Antiquarian Society. It changed hands several times over the years, eventually becoming the property of the Worcester Historical Museum. The Worcester Historical Museum restored the building to its 1830 luster and opened it to the public for tours. It was the city’s first historic house museum.
Stephen Salisbury moved into the
house after its construction in 1772. Part
of the home served as a dry goods store, which Salisbury operated. Salisbury came to Worcester from Boston,
where he had made his fortune as a merchant.
At the time, Worcester was a growing city of approximately 2,000
residents. It is about 50 miles west of the
City of Boston.
The home was built in the
Georgian style that was fashionable in the mid-eighteenth century. This architectural style is characterized by
symmetrical design, both on the exterior and interior of the structure. The part of the building that originally
served as the dry goods store was restored in the 1980s to reflect the designs that
were considered stylish during the time the Salisbury family lived in the
A few years later, he brought his
wife, Elizabeth Tuckerman, to the home from Boston. They had three children together while they
were living in this home, but only one of them (Stephen II) survived to
adulthood. After the embargo imposed by
the War of 1812, the store was closed and the entire building became the family
home. Their son made did not continue to
live in the home with his family. He
became a wealthy businessman like his father, and built an elegant home for his
own family not far from his parents in Worcester.
In 1929, the mansion was moved
from its former home on Lincoln Square to its current site at 40 Highland
Street to save it from demolition.
Lincoln Square, where the home was once situated, was rebuilt as the
City of Worcester transformed from an industrial mecca to a haven for education
and the arts. The land where the house
once stood is now the site of the World War I Memorial and the mostly abandoned
Worcester Memorial Auditorium.
In 1929, the building was left to
the American Antiquarian Society (AAS).
Three years later, AAS sold the building to the Worcester Art Museum,
which held onto it for nearly twenty years.
The Art Museum eventually sold it to the Worcester Employment Society in
1950. The Worcester Employment Society
grew out of the space just five years after they purchased it and decided that
they wanted to either renovate the building or tear it down entirely. The Salisbury Mansion Associates formed to
preserve the historic structure. They
purchased it from the Worcester Employment Society a few years later and
restored it to its earlier beauty. For
some time, the Salisbury Mansion Associates and the local Girl Scouts Council
operated out of the space. In 1981, the
Worcester Historical Museum agreed to lease the space from the Salisbury
Mansion Associates and undertook a huge new project. The restoration of the old building was
initiated. The plan was to turn the building
into the beautiful 1830 home that the widowed Elizabeth Tuckerman Salisbury cherished.
The renovations were completed by 1984 and the property was opened as the City’s
first historic house museum. When the
Salisbury Mansion Associates (property owner) and the Worcester Historical
Museum (tenant) merged in 1985, the home became the property of the museum.
The Salisbury Mansion and Store
was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. According to the website of the Worcester
Historical Museum, the Mansion is considered one of the best documented
historic house museums in the New England region. The mansion offers guided tours on Thursday,
Friday and Saturday afternoons.