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Ivory pagoda comes to Quincy House

May 21, 2015

Ivory Pagoda Install

Historic New England's Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts, recently welcomed a fascinating artifact as part of its interior restoration project.

In early May, a rare early nineteenth-century Chinese ivory pagoda arrived to act as a stand-in for the Quincy family’s pagoda, which is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Quincys’ pagoda appears in c. 1880s photographs of the interior of the house. Eliza Susan Quincy described it in an 1879 memorandum that documents the family’s furnishings.

According to Miss Quincy, the pagoda came into the family in 1792 and moved along with them to several of their Boston homes before finally arriving at their home in Quincy in 1876. She explains how complicated it was to move the pagoda from one place to another. Our collection services staff concurs.

Above you see two people removing the pagoda from the truck and placing it on a modern platform. The tall metal rod is an armature that the structure will be secured to so that it cannot tip within the case.

We reproduced the Quincys’ original glass case, which is also at the Met. In the interest of safety, the pagoda and case traveled separately in the truck. Together they were too tall to be assembled inside the house, so they had to be brought together outside on the truck’s lift. 

See a slide show of the delivery and installation.

Visit Quincy House this summer to see the pagoda in its permanent position in the East Parlor.

Historic New England Members: Enjoy three exclusive opportunities to see the newly restored Quincy House.

  • Free Members Only Preview
    Sunday, May 31, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
    Registration recommended
  • Curator's Tour
    Thursday, June 11, 10:30 a.m. - noon
    Registration required
  • Conservation Close-Up
    Thursday, July 30, 10:30 a.m. - noon
    Registration required

Not a member? Join today.



Replica Ivory Pagoda

Posted by Carol Franzosa on June 10, 2015
You SOLD the Quincy family ivory pagoda to the Met? I'm horrified. Our New England history is obviously not safe in your hands. I was a member and thinking of re-joining but not to travel your locations to see replicas.

Quincy family ivory pagoda

Posted by Nicole Chalfant - Collection Manager on June 10, 2015
Thank you for your comment, Ms. Franzosa.

My apologies that you misinterpreted our story about the ivory pagoda on display at the Quincy House. Historic New England never owned the Quincy family ivory pagoda as it had already been removed, by family members, from the house when we acquired it in 1937. Quincy family members made the decision in 1958 for the pagoda to be made part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While the ivory pagoda you can see at the Quincy House now is not the original family's piece, it is exquisitely carved authentic piece and still a wonderful example of the art form.

I hope this mistake will not prevent you from renewing your membership with Historic New England as your support is very important to us and does help us to preserve the many thousands of New England pieces that we care for.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly at:

Nicole Chalfant
Collection Manager

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Ivory pagoda comes to Quincy House