The Counting House

The Counting House, Salem MAYear built: 1830
Built for: Unknown
Moved to current site: Unknown

The Counting House, circa 1830, is typical of the small buildings in which sea captains, or “supercargoes” like Salem-native, Nathaniel Bowditch, completed much of their business. This was a place to balance accounts, pay fees due, and figure profit before or after a sea journey. While this building dates slightly later than the time our merchant families were active in the Triangle and China Trades, it is a prime example of a counting house from Salem.

In the summer of 2007, renovations to the Counting House opened the space to children as a maritime discovery zone called Kids’ Cove at The Gables. Children of all ages can view a floor cloth showing a few of Salem’s trade routes as they smell the spices merchants imported. A telescope is poised at a porthole to spy the East Indiaman, Friendship of Salem, in dock while a small bed helps modern day cabin crews imagine life aboard such a ship. Overhead is a large compass rose to orient youngsters’ navigation of the seaside gardens and outdoor environs. Historic and modern day charts of Salem Harbor are available as are period costumes to spark young imaginations. Outside, facing Salem Harbor, a large boat-shaped platform invites young sailors to take the ship’s wheel, study its compass, ring the ship’s bell, and “sail” towards Marblehead.