Haunting Around Salem

Author: SDanck

Time to get Spooky! KDanck and I are from New England and love this time of year. The leaves falling, the crisp smell in the air, apple and pumpkin picking make Fall our favorite season (I know… basic). And the best part of the fall is Halloween…. with ghosts and scary stories.

But as a history major, let’s start with some real ghost stories. Salem, Massachusetts is known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and it has many other ghost stories that will take you all over the picturesque New England harbor town. Try not to run in the opposite direction.


The Witch Trials of 1692

What better place to start than with the story that made Salem famous (minor technicality that the trials actually took place in Danvers)  The trials began after three women were accused of witchcraft; Tituba (Reverend Parris’ slave), Sarah Good (a beggar) and the elderly Sarah Osborn (1). While the trials focused on Salem, several other towns in the Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties fell victim to the hysteria.

More than 200 people were accused and 20 were executed.  The documents that still exist today are hosted electronically by the University of Virginia, but Salem remembers her history well. The following sites will lead you lead through Salem and the trials:

  • The Salem Witch Trials Memorial
    • The stones of the memorial contain the names, type of execution and date of death of each innocent executed for witchcraft. The hysteria claimed 20 lives (14 women, 6 men).
    • Address: 24 Liberty St, Salem, MA 01970
  • Salem Witch Museum
    • The main exhibit is based on trial documents and will take you through trials through multiple stage sets. The second exhibit will take you through how witches and our perception of them has changed overtime.
    • Address: 19 1/2 Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970
    • Hours: 10 AM to 4:30 PM (presentations are every half hour and tickets can be purchased starting at 9:45 AM)
    • Price: $12
  • Witch Dungeon Museum
    • Be transported back to 1692 and experience a reenactment of a trial based on court transcripts
    • Address: 16 Lynde St, Salem, MA 01970
    • Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM with extended hours on select days in October
    • Price: $10
  • Witch History Museum
    • Meet Tituba in Reverend Parris’ kitchen and visit Old Salem village.  Follow the hysteria through 15 life sized scenes depicting the events.
    • Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM with extended hours on select days in October
    • Price: $10
  • The Witch House (Corwin House)
    • This house belonged to Jonathan Corwin, whose family would later play a part in the Trials. Corwin was a merchant, politician and be one of the judges who presided over the trials. The house offers insight into seventeenth century life and a deeper understanding of the people of Salem.
    • Address: 310 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
    • Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM
    • Price: $8.25

Still looking to get spooked but have a little less of a history lesson? Here are a few haunted sites you can visit in Salem:

The Joshua Ward House

Built after the Witch Trials (1784), the Joshua Ward House is haunted by the ghosts of Sheriff George ‘The Strangler’ Corwin and Giles Corey (both men were involved in the trials). Sheriff Corwin used cruel methods to interrogate suspects and was probably into some creepy shit was buried in the basement after his death in 1697 (later moved to Broad Street Cemetery).  Giles Corey was tortured and killed for being a warlock by Sheriff Corwin.

Wicked Good Books

First of all, you’re welcome for including a bookstore. Instead of spending hours scrolling through Instagram and pinning DIYs that you’re never going to do, visit this paranormal bookstore. The store sits on top of tunnels that were initially used by smugglers for illegal-not-Puritan-approved activities. They have even found human remains in the tunnels! TBH if I were a ghost, I’d be spooking up a bookstore too. Namely scaring readers away from Twilight bad books because I would be like Casper and be a helpful ghost.


Bunghole Liquors

You just got your smarts on at a bookstore, now it’s time to get lit visit the local liquor store. Bunghole Liquors was once a funeral home, with a speakeasy in the basement during the Prohibition era. Because who doesn’t want to drink and gamble around corpses and embalming fluid?!
Oh, wait.


Salem is filled with spooky stories so take one of the night tours and you’ll hear even more stories. Salem’s real horror stories not cutting it for you? Check out the Chamber of Terrors.  Wear sneakers as I’m sure you will be running out of there.

Don’t forget to visit the local shops and Ye Olde Pepper Company for some chocolate.  If chocolate helps after a dementor encounter, I’m sure it will help with all the ghost encounters you may experience while visiting the town.

P.S, J.K. Rowling, if you’re reading this…. I’m still waiting on my letter.

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(1) http://www.history.com/topics/salem-witch-trials

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