Salem Maritime National Historic Site | DERBY HOUSE

Derby House

Derby House

The Georgian-style Derby House is part of Salem Maritime National Historic Site. It was the home of Elias Hasket Derby, the wealthiest merchant in Salem in the late 1700s (some say he was the first millionaire in the United States). The house was a wedding present from his father, Richard Derby, when he married Elizabeth Crowninshield in 1761. The Derbys and their seven children lived in the house for nearly twenty years.

While he never went to sea, Elias Derby owned more than a dozen ships, and he had stakes in many more. He made much of his money during the American Revolution as a privateer. These were state-sanctioned pirates who were encouraged to prey on British merchant ships. After the war, he took his newfound riches and rolled them into an import business. His ships traveled the world to bring exotic goods back to Salem. He holds the distinction of being the first New England merchant to trade with China.

The Derbys moved to a larger house in 1780 and used their Derby Street house as a rental until selling it to Henry Prince in 1796. Prince lived in it until 1827. The house had multiple owners during the ensuing years, and was even used as a tenement house for Polish immigrants during the mid-1800s when the entire surrounding area became a Polish community. In 1928 the house was purchased and restored by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities; ten years later the organization donated it to the National Park Service for the new Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the very first National Historic Site in the National Park system.

The Derby House is open to the public by guided tour only (see the Derby and Narbonne House Guided Tour web page for details). It is furnished with period antiques and high-quality reproductions and decorated as it might have been when the Derbys were the owners. There are only two items on display that are original to the house: a fan and a sewing table.

The following are photos of the interior of the Derby House.

Kitchen of the Derby House

Kitchen of the Derby House

Elias Derby’s office

Elias Derby’s office

Parlor of the Derby House

Parlor of the Derby House

Dining Room of the Derby House

Dining Room of the Derby House

Upstairs bedroom in the Derby House

Upstairs bedroom in the Derby House

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Last updated on June 15, 2020
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