Visit Salem Witch Trial Sites- Itinerary Part C
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We were running ahead of schedule in the Part C Itinerary of our visit to the Salem Witch Trial sites, so we walked to the 4th Stop- Witch Dungeon Museum, 1 1/2 blocks away @ 16 Lynde St. Reviews on this were mixed, so I was prepared & not disappointed. It only has 2 artifacts (one on the front), so it’s more of an experience than a museum. It is a modern Salem tourist spot that can be skipped if you’re in a time pinch or tight on a budget, but check out the highlights below before you decide & make the most of it if you go. The building is architecturally beautiful, inside & out, an 1897 Stick-Style building & former church. They do a live re-enactment of part of Sarah Good’s Trial with a couple of actresses & onlooking mannequin judges. It’s followed by a tour of a replica Salem jail dungeon with mannequins in various scenes. It is not a high budget affair, the mannequins are old, but what they have in atmosphere, the testimonies spoken by the earnest actresses on stage, & the 2nd Highlight (below) were enough. Even with the aging dummies & meager scenes, I imagined what it was like for the real victims. Standing in Salem, Massachusetts, I couldn’t help but feel their history & their stories in my bones, that day. Salem can be touristy, but don’t get caught up in the distractions. Make the most of it, stay in the moment. Remember what happened, why you’re here, what they went through, and take the ambiance & nuggets of context from the sites that you can & honor them by learning their story.
This location has 2 unique highlights:
- A plaque on the front of the building ‘The Witch Gaol’ c 1935 is from the original 1692 jail location that was torn down in 1956 for Phone Company offices. This sign is visible without admission & to me was neat to see & get a pic of from when the jail still existed, even if the sign’s only from the 1930s. The location of the original “Witch Gaol” & the replacement sign is visited later in our day.
- The 2nd Highlight is downstairs near their replica dungeon- a beam from the original Salem jail dungeon used for the victims in 1692. The local Salem Witch Museum & Peabody Essex Museum have the other 2 remaining beams. The Witch Dungeon museum is the cheapest option of the 3, though the other 2 are likely worthwhile in their own right. For me, the beam makes the price of admission worthwhile. It’s just a beam, if you’re not a History geek, you may not entirely understand.
The Witch Dungeon museum online has some interesting educational activities & curriculum you can print out for your kids of all ages to drive the lessons of the Witch Trials home. It includes history, biographies & activities related to the Witch Hysteria events that kids will enjoy. They also have 4 pillories out front that our kids enjoyed being ‘locked’ in. During busy season, they’re open 10-5 daily. It is somewhat pricey at $9 adults, $8 seniors & kids 4-13 are $7, but, to me, worthwhile.
7 1/2 blocks away is the Next Stop- the Salem Witch Trials Memorial & the Old Burying Point Cemetery, which I’ve reviewed in a separate post. The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a Must See Gem in Salem & one of the Top 5 Salem Witch Trial Sites to visit. It is the largest of the 3 Memorials that pay tribute to the Witch Trial victims with a bench dedicated to each of the innocents who were executed in 1692. The 1st is located in nearby Danvers, Mass. (Salem village) from Part A of the Itinerary & the 3rd is at the site of the hangings & is mentioned later in this post.
It is 6 blocks to the next spot. Since I was the only one getting out & because the kids were growing tired, we picked up our car along the way- 2 1/2 blocks away at the parking garage. Choose wisely because only residents can park at the next spot & Bill & the kids had to drive around while I stopped. The Next Stop- the Howard Street Cemetery, @ 29 Howard St. This land is where accused victim Giles Corey was tortured & crushed to death under stones. Giles wasn’t executed for being found guilty of being a witch. He was tortured & died as a result simply because he refused to enter a plea & cooperate in his trial. The exact place is unknown, but I wanted to go and I found a spot that felt right and sat & looked around the landscape- wondered how it had changed. It’s located behind what was then the Salem jail dungeon. It was an empty field at the time. I looked up at the same sky that blanketed above Giles & saw his pain, tried to consider & absorb & understand as best I could for everything he had to endure, and as I had done at all of the other sites, I gave him & them the only thing I could. I prayed. For him & the others, & their families with prayers & faith that they may be in Heaven, today. Giles is buried somewhere here in an unmarked grave, now surrounded by others. The location is unknown. The cemetery is open til sunset.
Just around the corner @ “4 Federal St.”- next to door @ 10 Federal 🙂 is the Next Stop- a sign marking the original site of the Salem jail dungeon that held the accused in 1692. The jail was destroyed as recently as 1956 to build Phone Company offices. The older sign from 1935- pre demolition is at the Witch Dungeon Museum, above. It’s now occupied by government offices & private businesses.
Our last stop, a sobering Must See Gem and another Top 5 Salem Witch Trials site is Proctor’s Ledge. Finding Proctor’s Ledge was not easy in 2014. The site of the hangings was still officially unknown after 300 years, and was wrongly, yet widely believed for over a century to be ‘Gallows Hill’, a much larger hill, nearby where Salem’s water tower now resides. There were only vague references on a few blogs online as to the true location and most of those were wrong. Researchers & historians were quietly examining the site that we visited, but it wasn’t until 1 1/2 years after our visit that they confirmed it as the true site of the hangings. Luckily, we were able to visit the area. It was the well researched guess & work of a few based on the thorough research of a 1921 historian & modern ones honing in that led us here. Just 1.6 miles away from our last stop, Proctor’s Ledge today has a Memorial that was added in 2016. The site is quite literally surrounded in a neighborhood. Homes built without knowing what lie in their backyard, beyond their patios & barbecues. The only access to it was behind the Walgreens on the corner. We didn’t climb the hill out of respect for the homeowners. Today, the Memorial at Proctor’s Ledge is a small area carved out of the neighborhood, along the road, feet from where we were with only a home between. The Memorial is smaller than the other 2 but still beautiful, the names of the executed etched into a stone wall. I didn’t get to see it after they added the Memorial, but it’s beautiful online & the significance of the site alone makes it a Must See Gem not to be missed on your visit to the Salem Witch Trial sites. The neighborhood is privately owned & the roads are narrow so parking can be a challenge.
You can see many of the Salem Witch Trial sites in a day, but 2 days would be better to enjoy more of Salem. They have a 1630 Historic Village & several interesting Maritime sites that we didn’t get to. The Boston area is so full of amazing history we were forced to choose and we wanted to soak up as many different experiences as we could, so gave each a day. But, there are things here I would have loved to see & were sad we couldn’t fit in. Worth another trip in the future!
I know nothing concerning the crime of witchraft for which I am condemned to die, as will be known to men and angels at the great day of judgement.’
– Ann Pudeator, Hanged September 22, 1692
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The ONLY home of one of the hanged accused Witchcraft Trial victims that’s open to public & ONLY graves of any of the victims known.