Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Wedded Bliss:" An 1801 Wedding in Salem, Massachusetts

Federal architecture and Neoclassical fashion - an ideal combination. Miss Sally Peirce (1780-1835) wore this Empire-style gown, of a fine cotton voile, apparently brought back from India by her fiancé, Mr. George Nichols (1778-1865). In 1801, she wed Mr. Nichols in the room in which the dress was displayed. The parlor of her childhood home, it was updated in the latest Adamesque style by Salem's Federal architect extraordinaire, Samuel McIntire, for the wedding ceremony. This vignette is from the 2008 exhibition "Wedded Bliss" at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. 

George wrote: "…the ceremony took place on the 22nd of November, 1801, on Sunday evening. We were married by Rev. Dr. Hopkins, in my Father Peirce's great eastern room, which was finished and furnished only a short time before." [1] 

Photography by Jim Steinhart, 2011

The Peirce-Nichols House is part of the Peabody Essex Museum's extensive holdings of noteworthy historic buildings. Most likely designed by Samuel McIntire (c. 1784), he updated the east parlor in the Adam style by 1801.

 [1] See "The Peirce-Nichols House" Historic House Booklet Number Four, by Gerald W.R. Ward, Essex Institute Publications, 1976.

For more on the architecture at the Peabody Essex Museum, see

For more on Samuel McIntire, see Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style, Dean Lahikainen, Peabody Essex Museum, 2007

For more on Sally Peirce & related textiles, see Painted With Thread: The Art of American Embroidery, Paula Bradstreet Richter, Peabody Essex Museum, 2000

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