Pickman-Rice Mansion // 1796

In 1814, wealthy Salem businessman, Benjamin Pickman transformed a modest, mostly un-finished 1796 Lancaster farmhouse into an exquisite showpiece worthy of his bride-to-be. The farmhouse was built by Merrick Rice, an attorney, who was hoping this gift would earn her hand in marriage. It didn’t. So the second act of this home is more romantic I guess! Using the finest carpenters in the area, he added a Federal façade and four grand front rooms with soaring ceilings, elongated windows, and superb moldings. The grand Federal style home was known locally as “the mansion” and the owners hosted grand parties, with many Salem and Boston socialites attending. Fast-forward to 1981, when antiques specialist Stephen Fletcher was looking for a place to call home. By that time, the property desperately needed a savior. “It was dark and so moist that condensation had frozen on the walls,” says Fletcher, now Skinner auction house’s director of American furniture and decorative arts and a regular commentator on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. The home sold in 2014 and the interiors are just… wow!

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