The Witch City ~ Salem, Massachusetts

The House of the Seven Gables ~   Salem, Mass.

Salem, Massachusetts…  “The Witch City”

You know, the place you always say you want to visit, but have not yet!

Growing up in Maine, Salem was a place we frequented on field trips in grade school.  Yeah… Lucky kiddos that we were!  It was a quick 1 1/2 hours ride from Portland to Salem so it pretty much was a yearly excursion for us.  It was such a great historical place with so much fascinatingly scary history so it was one of those places that kids loved to go to, even if it was a learning excursion.

Mind you, I’m not making light of the atrocities to men, women and children that happened within this area.  On the contrary.  There is no doubt when you go to Salem that there are a lot of residual  vibes of its past that still linger heavily.  It’s hard to not feel like you’ve been transported back in time because so much of its history is around as if it were still the 1600’s in Colonial America.

Salem has done a  superb job in maintaining the old buildings and while I’m not super happy about a lot of the newer buildings they have slid in and around these amazing 17th & 18th century Colonial buildings, they have large blocks of houses still in their original state of grandeur.  They realize that its unfortunately tragic history is literally their primary revenue for a few months of the year and in those few months it literally becomes a worldwide pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of Witches and tourists to this beautiful, seaside city.

            

The nice thing about Salem is that it’s easily coupled with a trip to Boston.  Salem literally is 16 miles from Boston and there is a train that gets you from point A to point B.  Plus, even with kids, you don’t really need a car in Salem, as all of the notable points of interest are all within walking distance of each other.  So it’s a very walkable, safe and friendly city to visit.

So, perhaps you’ve got just one day in Salem, or maybe you’ve gone all out and grabbed a room at one of their local B&B’s or the famous Hawthorne Hotel.  There are a few places that yes, are touristy but obviously, why you go to Salem in the first place.  Keep in mind that while Salem is best experienced in October, it’s hard (VERY) to get rooms.  Book at least 1 year in advance and be prepared to pay for it.  There are folks who make this truly a lifelong journey.  So rooms are not easy to find in the autumn, especially around Halloween.  If you go say around, September… early.  You’ll do far, better.  But, it does start getting busier then as well.

Before you leave for your trip, head to the library and grab a copy of that book that you were required to read in high school, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables and re-read it.  It will bring a whole new meaning and appreciation to the book during your trip.

Here I’ll give you a few of the local haunts (tee-hee) as well as the touristy must see’s in the town.

   

I must admit, there are a few new places that have gone in and I’m sorry I cannot include these as it’s been a few years since I last went.  That being said, I’ll give you the finer points of the great old standby’s that you cannot miss.  The rest, I’ll leave up to your wanderlust and hope that you can report back to me with your coolest findings of Ye Olde Salem!

So let’s start walking… My best explanation of how to get to this place is to have the ocean to your left and the Peabody Essex Museum park to your back and start walking through the center of town in the brick area with the shops.  Beyond that, you should talk with a local.  Keep in mind that old New England was not designed for cars, it was made for horses.  Many of the streets are strangely placed, dead – ends,  narrow and kind of well… ODD!  Directions are sort of hard to follow.  Try to use points of interest instead.

The Old Burying Point

“I can say before my eternal father that I am innocent, and God will clear my innocency.”  Rebecca Nurse

Salem’s oldest cemetery and known as the 2nd oldest burying ground known in the US, this to me is the best place to start your trip to get a good feeling of what Salem was like during the Colonial period.  It also gives you a very good overview of the victims of the witch trials of the 1600’s at the Witch Trial Memorial.

At the time when I last visited you could still do grave rubbings.  They may have abandoned this for fear of the stones demise.  However, you can freely go in and see some of the oldest stones you’ll ever encounter here in the U.S..  Many are very hard to read, but they are all beautifully crafted.

If you’re looking for the grave-sites of the Witches Holocaust victims, you will not find these in this graveyard.  They were buried in unmarked graves near the site of their hanging.  Generally near Gallows Hill in Salem or at various points Peabody, MA.

This is a bit hard to find on your own, ask a local merchant for directions.  It’s literally in the center of town, set very high on a hill.

               

Not to be missed when visiting the Burying Point is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.  It’s a very moving exhibit of the poor souls who bravely lost their lives during the Witches Holocaust during the 16th & 17th centuries in Salem and Peabody, MA.

    

After your journey to this lovely town and grave combing, I’m sure you’re hungry and thirsty.  Forget those tourist traps… Head to the big clipper ship on the waterfront  down to Derby Street follow it almost to The House of The Seven Gables and the prison.

In A Pig’s Eye ~ Salem, Massachusetts

“Essentially, “in a pig’s eye” is an expression meaning you’re pulling my leg or putting me on.

Our research has found that it was originally first penned in 1876 by a man name Petroleum V. Nasby, a political columnist from upstate New York. You might wonder how an expression such as this became the name of a restaurant. . . Well, rumor (fairly substantiated) has it that in the early 70s the two original owners purchased the restaurant but were undecided upon a name. . . one night while they were “slightly” intoxicated shooting rats at a pig farm (for amusement of course) one looked at the other and asked “what are we going to call this place?” His reply, “I don’t know. . . In a Pigs Eye?” and so the story began.”

     

Years ago when the Mr. and I lived in Salem, Massachusetts (yes, people actually do live in Salem!)  we used to frequent this cozy little pub called In A Pigs Eye.  One of the original pubs of Salem, apparently.

It’s a super rad traditional old style pub that serves up the most amazing Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner and some wicked good beer!  The food prices are really affordable for such a busy town, but be forewarned, the wait for a table can be a bit long especially in the busiest month, October.

A quick run down of their yummy menu, such as New England Crab Cakes served with horseradish and fresh greens for $8, Seared Sesame Scallops with wasabi cole slaw on mixed greens for $10., Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich for $6., Fish Cakes with cole slaw and fries for $7.,  Boston Baked Scrod  served with house salad, choice of rice pilaf or skillet roasted potatoes, and carrots or fresh roasted green bean for $13., Grilled Swordfish Steak with balsamic cole slaw &  choice of rice pilaf or skillet roasted potatoes, and carrots or fresh roasted green bean $13. Honey & Cashew Fried Boneless Chicken with fries and cole slaw $8.

It’s good New England pub food at good old fashioned prices.   Oh and they have entertainment on some nights too!

It’s worth keeping this pub in mind when you finally make that trip to Salem, Massachusetts you’ve always wanted to do!

   

In A Pig’s Eye
148 Derby Street
Salem, Massachusetts

http://www.inapigseye.com

Pleasantly full and perhaps slightly intoxicated with a few good pints of Boddingtons, let’s find our way to our next must see spot conveniently located across the street from Pig’s Eye!

The House of the Seven Gables  & The Nathaniel Hawthorne House

“Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the old Pyncheon House; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon Elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down Pyncheon Street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities, –the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.”   Nathaniel Hawthorne

       

Nathaniel’s Birthplace During Move  58′                   Modern Day

Hawthorne’s Birthplace

While relocated in 1958 from its original location on Union Street to its now famous location next to The House of the Seven Gables, The Nathaniel Hawthorne House, a modest Georgian styled house is a fascinating trip into Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sad, but interesting youth.

Born on July 4th 1804 to Elizabeth and Nathaniel Hawthorne, tragically Nathaniel’s father, a sea captain died on a voyage when Nathaniel was only 5 years old.  His mum was left to tend to three small children with very little money.  They eventually moved and his birth home and losses became the subject of many of his future stories.

In 1958 the house was moved down the street to its current location of Derby Street.  It sits seamlessly next to the House of The Seven Gables as if it’s been there all along.  For a mere $12.50 for adults / seniors $11.50 and $7.50 for kids you get all of this!!!

Includes a guided tour of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion (The House of the Seven Gables), a visit to the Nathaniel Hawthorne House, the Counting House, the Colonial Revival Gardens, and the waterfront.

The House of the Seven Gables

Immaculately restored this house is worth the cost of admission, all on its own.  I’ve toured this home, more than any other place and I could tour it a thousand more times and never tire of it.  It’s beautiful and fascinating.

 

Built by a Salem sea captain and merchant named John Turner in 1668 and occupied by three generations of the Turner family before being sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782 it became the inspiration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables.

Well worth it!  For $12. you get a fully guided tour through the property and its incredible  gardens.   The House of the Seven Gables is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England.   You can see the hidden staircase in the Seven Gables Home and its authentic furnishings.

The House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
Phone Number: (978) 744-0991
Fax Number: (978) 741-4350

http://www.7gables.org/

Time for a little sweetie?  Take a walk down Derby street to America’s oldest candy company.

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles Schultz

     

Who doesn’t love a candy store.  I adore and I mean ADORE the smell of chocolate and salty nuts that seems to permeate this store.  The interior is simple, nothing fancy.  I’d imagine it has not changed much over the years.

They sell these strange and weirdly good things called Gibralters.  The first commercially made candy in the United States.

I prefer the peppermint over the lemon but they come packaged with both for about $2 .  They have just a few ingredients, cream of tartar, peppermint or lemon oil, sugar.  They are sort of a crunchy, creamy hunk of sweet, white, kinda chalky… goodness.

The nice thing about Gibralters is they don’t melt.  So they travel well if you want to bring home a memento for your peeps back home.

If you’re in the mood for chocolate, well hells yeah!  They’ve got that too.

      

Ye Olde Pepper Companie
122 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970

The Bunghole

“There’s a colorful history to the original Bunghole Liquor store in bewitching Salem, Ma.  You see, the Bunghole used to be a funeral home.  And during Prohibition the owner and his buddies, like many others at the time, used a slang word to refer to their secret drinking spot in the basement.  The slang term they used was “bunghole,” as in “Psst, meet you tonight at the bunghole.”

A mainstay in Salem for decades, The Bunghole is where the locals go to get their alcoholic provisions for the night.  If you’re planning on an overnight trip, you might want to pop into The Bunghole to grab your libations for back in your room.  Another must have is one of their classic tee’s.

 

The Bunghole
204 Derby Street
Salem, Massachusetts
http://www.bungholeliquors.com

Suzannah Flint House Bed & Breakfast

“I was in this restaurant.  The sign said “Breakfast Anytime.”  So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance.”  Steven Wright

A favorite of mine whenever I stay in Salem.  If you’re wanting a typical Holiday Inn, mind you… This is not that.  It’s quirky, has strange angels in their tiny, en-suite bathrooms, but all of the charm you could ever want in a home that was built in 1807.   I adore the decor, warm, historical document wallcoverings, Asian rugs and period furnishings.  A complimentary breakfast is offered at Nathaniel’s in the Hawthorne Hotel for our Suzannah Flint Guests and The Suzannah Flint House is conveniently located in the center of town.  All that being said, it’s been years since I’ve stayed there.  I have noticed a strong decline in their reviews so perhaps they have let things slide.  You might want to check it out, first hand before booking.  I only know from past experience, I always enjoyed my stays there.

   

Suzannah Flint House
98 Essex Street
Salem, Massachusetts
(978) 744-5281
(I cannot locate a  website for them)

Red’s Sandwich Shop

“A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg. ”  Samuel Butler

 

Ever had one of those places that you dream of?  A place you’ve considered driving a totally and completely unreasonable amount of miles to get to?

“Where people will sit outside in the rain, if that’s the only place to sit.”    The Mr.

This is our place.  Hands down.

When the Mr. and I lived in Salem, this was our Sunday excursion for breakfast and there have been many days after moving away from Salem, when we’ve laid in bed saying to each other…

“If we start driving right now, we could be there in only ________  hours!”

I don’t recall if we ever actually did that or not.  Maybe a few times.  I’ll have to ask The Mr.  His memory is far better than mine.

Regardless, this place ROCKS and you have to, I mean HAVE TO go there when in Salem.  Their homefries and corned beef hash are to die for!  I mean seriously!

I cannot remember if lunch ever entered into the picture or if we just had breakfasts there, but I’m sure it’s all good.  I can tell you the lines outside of locals waiting to eat there is generally insane.  Find the sweet spot of time when everyone has cleared out and grab your table.

Red’s has been serving up cheap, hearty food to locals for over 50 years and is constantly written up by foodies.

A two egg omelet with their freaking rad homefries and toast  for $4.!  Really??!! Wicked strawberry and whipped cream Belgian waffles for $6.  Two eggs with ham, bacon or sausage, homefries and toast for $5, hot turkey  or hot roast beef sandwich served with choice of: mashed potatoes, french fries & gravy $7

Red’s Sandwich Shop
15 Central Street

Salem, Ma.
978-745-3527
Mon – Sat: 5:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sun: 6:00 am – 1:00 pm
All fueled up and ready to go for the day, it’s time to fully integrate yourself into the history of what Salem is truly known for.   The Witch Trials.

Salem Witch Museum

“You’re a liar! I’m no more a witch than you are a wizard! If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink!”  Sarah Good

This is the best place to really get a full, but interesting interactive Salem  of 1692. Visitors are given a dramatic history lesson using stage sets with life-size figures, lighting and a narration – an overview of the Witch Trials of 1692 where 180 people were accused and imprisoned and sadly more than likely, met their demise.
        
The Salem Witch Museum is set in an old church.  You enter into a darkened room with a red light center pentagram in the floor, with the names of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials and  many vignettes of  wax figures high on the walls around the room.
I have to say, it may be a bit scary for a younger child.  You need to understand the arena is dark and the subject matter can be a bit frightening.  But for older kids (10+), it will probably be fine and quite educational.
     
The Salem Witch Museum is a great way to get a super detailed overview of the Salem Witch Trials and definitely should be a must see on your trip.
Another cool thing they offer is a 1692 sites tour of various areas around Massachusetts. I’m positive this would be amazing to do.
This section contains descriptions of the sites from the witchcraft hysteria which can still be seen today. With few exceptions, only original houses or foundations, gravesites, and sites indicated by historic markers have been included. Sites lacking either physical remains or any historic marker have generally been omitted. Except where otherwise noted, all grave sites mentioned are marked. Following each site is a short description of its relevance to the witchcraft events. Each site has been assigned a number which identifies it in both the map and historical sections.
The Salem Witch Museum
Washington Square North
Salem, Massachusetts
Admissions
Adults : $9
Seniors: $7.50
Children: $6.00
Hours of Operation
10 am – 5 pm daily; 10 am to 7 pm in July and August
Alright… You’ve got your history on, let’s onto the good stuff I’m quite sure you all want to experience when in the Witch City.  A true, Witch store and Salem’s First Witch Shop…
Crow Haven Corner
The unique and famous Laurie Cabot’s, Crow Haven Corner.
I must admit, I have chatted with Laurie a few times… She’s a lovely,  petite and  quite soft spoken and lovely gal and very well known amongst all Salem folk, especially like minded Witches.  I’ve had the honor and pleasure of attending a few of her Pagan holiday gatherings at Gallows Hill and a few other places over the years in my younger days.  I hold those nights dear to my heart.
   
Gentle readers, do not expect to find Ms. Cabot tending Crow Haven Corner.  She will probably not be there.  The last time I was there it was owned by her daughter and Laurie is quite busy with other things.
Crow Haven Corner is a beautiful shop filled with ornate metaphysical wares and supplies and super gorgeous jewelry.  Undoubtedly the prettiest Pagan shop I’ve ever been in and I’ve been in a lot of them!
The shop keepers are very friendly and helpful and quite used to tourists going in, even if this is not your “bag.”  Don’t feel intimidated just checking it out.  There are a lot of pretty things for the novice too.
Crow Haven Corner
125 Essex Street
Salem, Massachusetts
Open Daily 10-7
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