, Newburyport, MA

December 4, 2013

Mansion makeover

Designers bring elegant new look to historic treasure

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — The Designers’ Holiday Show House in the mansion at Glen Magna Farms in Danvers will mix each decorator’s art with some lessons in history.

Fifteen interior designers have been working since August to bring a fresh look to every room in the mansion, which once belonged to the Endicott family of Salem and is now managed by the Danvers Historical Society.

“They researched the history of Glen Magna in detail,” said Sandra Biondo, a society member who chose designers for the show. “I knew that they really would respect the period, as well as the design, and integrate some modern twist to it.”

The new designs are open to visitors daily through Sunday, Dec. 15.

Parts of the home were built before the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, but designers focused on elements that date from the turn of the last century.

“The family was at the height of its international prominence from the 1890s to the 1930s,” said Wayne Eisenhauer, president of the Danvers Historical Society. “They did the whole Endicott mansion over and made it a very refined, elegant country house.”

That was the period when the property passed into the hands of Ellen Peabody Endicott, granddaughter of Joseph Peabody, a wealthy Salem shipping merchant who had bought it in 1812.

She hired architects to transform the house into the Colonial Revival mansion that stands there today. The original building is incorporated as wings.

The mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the designers could not alter any of its architecture or fixtures.

“Everything had to stay in place,” Biondo said. “The windows, doors could not be changed; curio cabinets, wainscoting, flooring. Ceilings could be painted, but they could not be changed in any way. We had to stay within the guidelines of historic preservation.”

But far from feeling restricted, the designers drew inspiration from the historical fabric of the house, which includes doorways, moldings and other features carved by Samuel McIntire, Salem’s famed Federal Period architect and woodcarver.

The fireplace in the drawing room, for example, influenced designer Donna Terry’s choice of decorations for this sizable space on the first floor.

“That fireplace was bought in Egypt,” Biondo said. “The Endicotts were traveling in Egypt at that time, and they found that and installed it here in Glen Magna.”

For the walls, Terry chose Egyptian sconces and a painting of a ship anchored in an exotic foreign port that recalls the Endicotts’ many overseas trips. There are also art deco influences in glass globes that serve as lamps, along with artworks and several pieces of furniture that suggest the period when they were traveling.

Elyse Parkhurst and Cailin Flynn of North Fork Design in Boxford worked on a groom’s bedroom on the second floor, where the furniture includes a sleigh bed.

“We used some of the existing furniture, as well as incorporating new artwork, lighting and other pieces,” Parkhurst said. “We’re also going to be borrowing furniture from Arhaus Furniture in Natick — a club leather chair and a buffet piece, a sideboard, a console, and a bar cart.”

They wanted the room to have “a masculine, smoking-room feel” and were also careful to choose artwork from several different periods.

“Old and contemporary are layered in to feel acquired over time, not to feel all brand-new or all old,” Parkhurst said. “That’s how our style is done anyway.”

Parkhurst and Flynn have also redecorated a hallway off the foyer on the main floor, where they fashioned a display cabinet out of storage space and displayed figurines and vases from the Danvers Historical Society’s collection.

“That’s really the key issue — the integration of pieces from the historical society, and then the designers taking those pieces as the springboard for inspiration,” Biondo said.

The show is a fundraiser for the Danvers Historical Society and celebrates 50 years since it acquired the property.

The mansion, which is currently used for weddings and other functions, hosts 10,000 visitors per year and was last redecorated around 30 years ago, Eisenhauer said.

Funds raised by the show will help refurbish the Derby Summer House, a two-story teahouse that was designed and built by McIntire in 1794 and moved to Glen Magna in 1901.

This structure is also a National Historic Landmark, where it is on a par in importance with the White House, Eisenhauer said, but it needs restoration that is expected to cost $100,000.

“Next year, it will be 220 years old,” he said. “Hopefully, when we’re done, it will last another 220 years.”


What: Designers’ Holiday Show House

When: Through Dec. 15, daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Endicott Mansion, Glen Magna Farms, 181 Ingersoll St., Danvers

Meet the designers: Designers will be in their rooms on Friday, Dec. 6; Monday, Dec. 9; and Thursday, Dec. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Tickets: $20, available at or at the door

More information: 978-777-1666 or