Salem has its share of beautiful and historic architecture, from the Witch House, built in the 1600s, to the stately Federalist mansions on Chestnut Street. But did you know that Salem also has a pristine example of a late-19th century Chinese house?
Door to Yin Yu Tang
Yin Yu Tang (Hall of Plentiful Shelter) can be found at the Peabody Essex Museum, which houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art from Asia. The house, built in the Huizhou region in China, was home to 8 generations of the Huang family. Its patriarch was a prosperous merchant who wanted to provide living quarters to his extended family. In addition to 16 bedrooms, the house also consists of a courtyard, two reception halls, and a storeroom. There are also kitchens adjacent to the main house.
Stunning carved panels adorn the upstairs hallways, the bedrooms are furnished with original beds and writing desks, and decorated with ornate European wallpaper. Clothing is spread out on the carved beds as if someone is going to get dressed for the day. The reception halls are where the family would socialize, eat, and play mahjong. The stone-floored courtyard in the center of the house has two stone fish ponds, complete with large koi that are fun to watch! (But no feeding allowed.) There is also an array of items throughout the house that the family needed to live. A baby minder, shaped like a bucket with room for a warming brazier in the bottom, posters of Chairman Mao and other communist propaganda, a coffin (!) and a bicycle reside in the various rooms as they would have when the Huang family lived there.
In 1982, the home stood empty, as the last Huang family member moved away. In 2002, the Peabody Essex Museum purchased it and proceeded to move it piece by numbered piece to Salem, where it was painstakingly put back together. It now can be visited on your trip to the museum. There are both self-guided and docent-led tours. For more information, click here.