The majority of today was spent in Salem. Due to the association of Salem as the ‘Witch City’ it floods with tourists each year in October, to celebrate Halloween all month. Knowing this I wanted to try and avoid the crowds and traffic congestion. As we are staying out in Rockport, approximately a thirty minute drive from Salem we left around 8:00 am to see as much as we could before the chaos ensued.
The actual spot where the convicted were hanged is unknown. There is a park west of the historic district in Salem named ‘Gallows Hill’ for what is presumed to be the hill on which the hangings occurred. Currently there are several theories of where exactly the real hill was, a simple internet search brings up many helpful results and in depth accounts of how these theories are founded. I walked up a hill within Gallows Hill Park, though I could not find anything denoting exactly which hill in the park is the hill.
It is known that gallows were not used, but rather the convicted were hanged from a tree atop the hill. It is also known that the hill was accessible by water as the son of the accused Rebecca Nurse travelled to the hill by boat to claim his mother’s body.
Though it has not been acknowledged by the town of Salem, it is believed by some researchers that the hill pictured above, behind a Walgreens is in fact the correct location of the hangings.
From Gallows hill park it is approximately a half hour walk to downtown historic Salem. We arrived downtown before 10am and most of the stores were open, while many of the vendors were in the process of setting up for the day.
The ‘Witch House’, the house of Jonathon Corwin, a judge during the trials, is the only remaining structure associated with the witch trials of 1692. A tour of the house with preserved rooms is available although we weren’t prepared to wait in line for it.
Across the street from the witch house is this statue of Elizabeth Montgomery from the show Bewitched. I had never seen it until last week, but decided to watch a few episodes before the trip, the entire series can be found on Netflix. Much of the seventh season was filmed in and around Salem. I may continue to watch it as I actually enjoyed it. As it was filmed during the sixties and seventies it is refreshingly innocent compared to today’s television.
What is left of the courthouse in which the accused were tried is this plaque located on the wall of the Masonic Temple at Washington and Lynde Street. The streets must have changed since 1692 as the courthouse would have been set in the middle of the street today.
Something very interesting to see, which is not associated with the witches is the Old Burial ground on Charter Street, America’s second oldest graveyard. The grave stones were made of slate and were much thinner than today’s. Many of the gravestones have been abused by weather and time and are no longer legible. Of note is the grave of a Mayflower pilgrim. The oldest grave in the ground dates back to 1673.
|What I Wore:
Sweater: American Vintage
Jeans: Second Yoga
Rain Boots: Mel
Within the burial ground is a sectioned off area containing twenty benches. Each bench dedicated to a victim of the 1692 witch trials. There is no plaque in place; we walked straight passed it before realizing it was the memorial. The memorial has been put in place as none of those convicted for witchcraft were buried in a common graveyard. Rather, they were buried in unmarked graves due to their witch status.
I didn’t purchase much in the way of souvenirs, though I did pick up a bottle of Witches Brew in the flavour Birch Beer. It tastes of root beer with a stronger mint note.
Touted as one of the most beautiful streets in America, Chestnut Street should not be missed on a visit to Salem. Lined with old historic colonial houses, maple trees and cobblestone sidewalks it is the perfect street for an autumn stroll. Though it is only a one way street it looks large enough for two lanes. Many of the houses contain plaques denoting their historical significance, including the date of construction and the family it belongs/belonged to.
We finished up in downtown Salem around 12pm and made our way out to Salem Willows, a little park by the sea. I had read on a tourism blog for Salem that the chop suey sandwich from Salem Lowe, a little Chinese restaurant at the Willows is a local favourite, so I wanted to try one. The dish is certainly not something I would gravitate towards on a menu, though I did enjoy it. I didn’t feel the bun added anything. The chop suey however is some of the best I’ve ever had. It has almost a creamy consistency and for less than three dollars the price can’t be beat.
The Salem Willows is a beautiful park, unfortunately the rain began as we pulled into Salem and ceased around when we left, so we didn’t spend too much time at the park, though I’m sure it’s stunning in the summer months. I had read that there was a vintage 1800s carousel at the Willows and was disappointed to learn that it had since been removed.
The willows themselves are white willows and were planted there to provide a shaded walk for patients with Smallpox from a nearby hospital.
By 2pm we were completely finished with Salem and made our way out to Danvers. I wasn’t much in the
mood for sightseeing as I was a bit drained from walking around Salem. I went to the Savers, as I love to thrift shop and picked up a baja backpack. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that the zipper is split until everything spilled out of it. Luckily it’s double zipped, so as long as use the right side I’m good to go. I’ve never been to a Savers before though I believe it is associated with Value Village, which we have in Canada. I’m not sure the difference, if there is any though as I believe America has both. If you know, feel free to weigh in!
By the time we arrived back in Rockport the sun was nearly setting and we decided to explore a bit of the town before settling in for the night. We walked down to T-wharf, which had a beautiful scene of boats in the harbor. Rockport is the quintessential picturesque sea port town. I could imagine staying here for the summer would be a dream, but I would find it difficult to live here year round.
I’m now having a bit of apple and pumpkin pie from Trader Joe’s and calling it an early night. There are no plans set in stone for tomorrow, but I’d like be up early enough to watch the sunrise over the harbor.