• Home
  • Downloads
  • Return to Portal
  • Stop 21 - Audio Transcription

    Welcome to the Narbonne House.

    Thomas Ives purchased this property in 1670 and later built a half-house, two rooms stacked on top of each other, with a chimney and steeply pitched gable roof. This popular home design allowed the building to grow over time as demand for space increased.

    Over the years, the home housed several families and underwent various additions and renovations. The Narbonne family, for whom the house is named, occupied the home from 1820 to 1905. Sarah Narbonne and her daughter Mary supported themselves by running a “cent shop” out of the home.

    The National Park Service bought the property in 1964. In the 1970s, archaeologists excavated the property. Before municipal trash removal, residents threw their garbage in the backyard or down privies. And in the backyard, archaeologists discovered a wealth of social history, almost 160 thousand artifacts.

    In addition to common ceramics, typical of working class-families, an abundance of fine china pieces were discovered. Residents of the home were not wealthy, and it’s unlikely their counterparts further inland would have owned similar sets of fine china. But because they lived in Salem, where ships regularly brought luxury goods from around the world, residents of the Narbonne house had ready access to such items.   

    Today this house offers us the unique opportunity to study the lives of working class families over a period of nearly 300 years, and to see how the fruits of international trade reached all residents, not just the wealthy, in historic Salem.