I actually thought that the people of Salem were mostly witches. And Bonnie Bennett in vampire diaries helped cement that absurd thought. So when I was visiting Boston with some friends, we decided to make a day trip to Salem and help this black girl get her history/facts updated.
Salem is located just north of Boston about 30 mins car ride away. Salem is historically significant for the the massive witch hunt that lead to the death of 20 people mostly by hanging and one guy being pressed to death (barbaric). There are lots of articles about the Salem Witch trials, but it was mostly a mass hysteria lead by fear of the different (a black woman’s folklore, an inept doctor and just people who didn’t conform to society at the time) and used by some as a tool to resolve their vendettas against other people.
You can see the whole of Salem in several hours. So a day is really quite generous. We visited on the 29th of December and the weather was nice and cool.
The town of Salem is really quite nice and very walkable. It is out of place in the 21st century but depicts 1962 very well.
It has massively commercialized the 1962 witch hunt. The whole town is witchy, even the oldest church had a spooky feel to it. There are numerous “Hex” stores all around, and every store had a tarot reading corner which always seemed to have a customer (you can feel the disapproving christian in me).
The town is very small, so if you have a car, just find a free parking spot and explore.
Salem Ropes House and First Salem church
The Ropes Mansion, a stark white Georgian style house was home to 3 generations of the Ropes family. The house is said to be one of the most haunted in Salem possibly because the owner at the time – Nathaniel Ropes died of smallpox and wife Abigail burnt to death after her dress caught fire from the fireplace in 1839.
They have an adjoining garden which is said to be really nice when in bloom, but was closed at the time I visited. The entryway made for a nice picture though. The first church in Salem is just right by the Ropes house.
Salem Witch House
This is the only original building from 1962 directly tied to the witch trials that still stands, and it has being preserved to give us tourists a glimpse into the lives of those who made decisions (bad ones) at the time of the witch hunt.
The house belonged to a Judge Jonathan Corwin who might have possibly held some of the trials in his house. All around the house there are artifacts of that time and transcripts of some testimonies held during the witch trials.
Salem Witch Museum
This was the highlight of my Salem exploration. For a $13 admission fee, you get to see 2 exhibits. The first exhibit shows the drama of that dark time though thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and narration as they are witness to the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem witch-hunt. and provides you with an in-depth understanding of the the Salem trials, witchcraft and even modern practice.
The second exhibit touches on evolving perceptions of the craft and how we conduct modern day witch hunts ..(enter internet age witch-hunting).
Salem Witch Memorials/Cemeteries
This is the biggest cemetery in Salem and is the resting ground of the people killed during the witch trials. It really was sad, and I felt a little bad posing for a picture at the cemetery, but I resolved to keep the lesson close to heart “Your worlds and actions have the very real power to kill someone else”.
Explore Essex Street
Made of cobblestone-and-brick buildings, Essex street is right in the middle of downtown Salem and has been closed off to vehicles, so you can wander around its dozens of attractions and eclectic array of shops, museums, cafes, and attractions.
Everything is geared towards the witchy, you could find witch books, incense, crystals, put a hex on someone, spell books and even shop at Hogwarts wand shop (Harry Porter fans).
Not only was I wiser after visiting Salem, it also led to some introspective thinking on how best I can accept humans with all their differences and quirks.