The Cabots were merchants and mariners who came to Massachusetts in the 17th century, settling first in Salem
John Cabot (1744-1821), son of Joseph and Elizabeth Cabot, was born in Salem, part of large family of 11 children. His father and grandfather were successful merchants. John attended Harvard College, graduating in 1763. Following his father’s death, John’s mother moved to Beverly with her children in 1768. (One son stayed in Salem in the family home.) In the 1770s, she built a house at the corner of Cabot and Central Streets where the candy shop parking lot is today. During the Revolution, John Cabot and his brothers owned shares in many privateer vessels and they made a great deal of money. The house was built in 1781. The parlor was a formal room, used to entertain guests. John Cabot was married twice. First to Mary Cox and they had one son Samuel; After Mary’s death John married Hannah Dodge. They had seven children – only three survived childhood Fanny, John and Lucy.
Visit the Cabot House
117 Cabot St.
Beverly, MA 01915
Open Monday – Friday in June 2020; we advise you to call/email ahead.
Reopening in July
Research Library Hours:
By appointment, please contact us
Following the death of Joseph Cabot in 1768, his widow moved to Beverly with 8 of her 9 surviving children. Her son, John, built the house that has been Historic Beverly’s headquarters since 1892.
The John Cabot House is a Georgian-style mansion built in 1781 during the Revolutionary War; it was the first brick mansion built in Beverly. The wealth of the Cabot family is reflected in the architecture of the house, the beautifully carved paneling, and decorations such as the Dutch tiles surrounding the fireplace. It would have been furnished with elegant furniture and decorative objects from around the world; a showplace to emphasize the success of John Cabot.
The Beverly Bank was founded here in 1802, and conducted business in this building until it moved to another building on Cabot Street in 1868. The property was willed to the historical society in 1892 by then owner Edward Burley. It now serves as a museum of Beverly history, a research center, and a regional visitor center.
The house was the first brick mansion built in Beverly. It has stayed in close to its original condition because only two families lived here (the Cabots and Edward and Harriet Burley) and two institutions -Beverly Bank and the Beverly Historical Society (now Historic Beverly). The other surviving Cabot mansion is Beverly City Hall. John Cabot sold the house to the Beverly Bank in 1802, eventually moving to Boston.
In 1802 John Cabot sold this house for $5000 to the newly formed Beverly Bank. The bank leased the “southerly part” of the house to Cabot for seven years. What became the bank rooms were originally a family parlor (front) and a separate, informal dining area.
Edward Burley purchased the house in 1834 from the Beverly Bank and he and his wife Harriet lived here until the end of their lives. The bank continued to operate out of two rooms until 1868. As a condition of sale Burley added an exterior door, a window, and the day vault to the Bank room. The day vault was built into the original kitchen fireplace. Burley also altered the entry, recessing it and adding Greek-style features popular in the 1830’s. The Burley’s had no children and in 1891 Mr. Burley willed the building to the newly formed Beverly Historical Society.
The hallway has a floor cloth made of canvas (probably recycled sails) with a printed pattern. These floor coverings were put down in the winter and rolled up in the summer. The lock on the front door dates to that time; it was made in England and is called a carpenter lock.
The parlor to the right of the Cabot Street entrance is the only room furnished in a historic manner. The paneling is all hand-carved and the tile around the fireplace is Delft. In the parlor, visitors will see:
Teak chair from India; merchants were bringing objects from all around the world.
Clock: Made in Beverly by William Sykes about 1800
Secretary: West Indian mahogany and white pine, attributed to John Cogswell’s shop in Salem 1770-1780. The bust of poet John Milton was probably carved by Simeon Skillen, a local shipbuilder. This piece was originally owned by Moses Brown, whose portrait by Gilbert Stuart hangs above the piano.
The pianoforte is walnut and was made by Chickering of Boston in 1828 for Mary Bridge Brown, wife of Moses Brown. Her portrait, by Frothingham, is next to her husband’s.
The large room on the second floor was two rooms when the Cabot and Burley families lived here. After the Historical Society moved in it was made into one large gathering space. It is called Memorial Hall because of the bronze tablets on both sides which are inscribed with the names of the original English settlers and soldiers from the 17th century Indian Wars and the American Revolution.