Salem Town "Witch Sites" Walking Tour Part I

The following article was written by K.W. Trickett, co-founder of the Salem Historical Society, where he lays out a walking tour of historical witch sites in Salem.

It’s very popular to say that almost all of the sites associated with the Salem Witch Trials are in Danvers (formerly Salem Village). It’s true that there are MANY sites in Danvers that people don’t know about or see. BUT there are also a lot of sites here in Salem, many of which are unmarked and unknown as “Witch” sites.

To begin the tour, park in the Church Street parking lot (if you can) and from there, walk down Church Street until you come upon…

Turner’s Seafood. What’s historic about a modern building with a seafood restaurant? The great thing is that even when historic buildings disappear, their stories live on. Why was this place relevant in 1692? Accused witch Bridget Bishop had a modest house on this site with third husband Edward Bishop, in addition to an orchard, and, based on surviving testimony from her accusers, was likely raising pigs here. If you thought Danvers (formerly known as Salem Village) was all farmland and Salem “Town” a port town full of only merchants, guess again. Though Turner’s is a seafood place with a liquor license, this Goody Bishop never owned a tavern (that we know of). That was the other Goody Bishop--Sarah--living in Danvers (her house still stands and is privately owned).

Next up, cut down the path by Salem Five Bank. You will likely find yourself in front of Derby Square--where a re-enactment of Bridget Bishop’s pre-trial examination takes place inside Old Town Hall (built c. 1815). Not far from Derby Square to your right you will see…

Rockafellas. Another restaurant, you say? A Salem mainstay, this building was once home to Daniel Low & Co., which produced Witch City’s first major souvenirs--witch spoons. Once upon a time, however, another building sat on this spot. The current building is marked with its former importance as Salem’s original first church--and here is where the original Salem Town meeting house (church) sat. Here is where the Corys and Rebecca Nurse were excommunicated. Here is where the Proctors were questioned by local magistrates. And here is where many of the accused attended church. The church’s covenant was first formed in 1629. They have since relocated farther down Essex Street. Before you go too much farther, take in...

The Statue of Bewitched’s Samantha Stevens. Sure, she’s an iconic witch, but does she really have a connection to the Salem Witch Trials? Nestled in a community of restaurants (Gulu Gulu Cafe, Flying Saucer Pizza, Naumkeag Ordinary, and the new Bistro 118) is the statue at Lapin Park. In 1692 this land belonged to none other than magistrate John Hathorne, whose name appears on almost every warrant and in almost every surviving examination paper. I can’t help but think the wealthy Puritan merchant might be pleased to see thriving businesses where his home once stood, but somehow the presence of a witch statue might perturb him. Farther down Essex Street on the intersection with north street, at long last, sits a National Historic Landmark…

The Witch House. No, a witch did not live here. The name comes from the fact that John Hathorne’s partner in legal prosecution, Jonathan Corwin, resided here. Inside, you will get a chance to look at the architecture of the First Period home, see copies of original witch trials documents both men signed, learn more about the beliefs of Puritan culture and the kinds of material belongings they owned, and more. The building, dating from 1675, is a national treasure. Some are disappointed that the tour is self-guided, but I find experiences like those are what you make them. Make your way back down North Street and take a right down Norman Street. Left, past the Dunkin Donuts, stands...

The Joshua Ward House. Historic all by itself, it was built in 1784 and was one of Salem’s earliest brick structures. On this site once stood the home of erstwhile Sheriff, George Corwin, accused of unethically taking the moveable goods of accused witches to line his own pockets. His most famous adversary was local Anglican Phillip English and his wife Mary. The Englishes were some of the wealthiest folks in town when they were accused of witchcraft, and though Corwin’s actions did not make them destitute, they were not happy. English apparently took Corwin’s corpse when he died until the family gave him his due. Across from the Ward house is historic Front Street, which once sat on the waterfront. Today, it is lined with shops and cafes. As you follow it down towards Central Street, it will turn into Charter Street, the location of...

The Old Burying Point, set aside by the town as a burial site in 1637. Among those buried here are 1692 magistrates John Hathorne, John Higginson, Jr, and Bartholomew Gedney, Federal style architect and woodcarver Samuel McIntire, a dozen or so wealthy merchants from Salem’s Great Age of Sail, and builder of the House of the Seven Gables mansion John Turner (the table-top tomb, not the grave marker). Adjacent to it on the New Liberty Street entrance is....

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The Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Many ask where the witches were killed and buried and that is no simple question to tackle. In 1992, this memorial was erected to allow visitors to pay their respects to victims of the mania of 1692. The names of 14 women and 6 men -- 19 hanged and one pressed to death -- are a sobering reminder of the core of this city’s witch mania. Three of those women--Bridget Bishop, Ann Pudeator, and Alice Parker--were residents of Salem Town.

Source: A Time Traveler’s Maps of the Salem Witchcraft Trials by Marilynne K. Roach,1991.