The Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts Photo Credit: Suzy Guese
Salem, Massachusetts is scary this time of year, and not for obvious reasons. Once summer has ended and fall has begun, Halloween seems to creepily become Salem’s only priority.
When Rodger Conant arrived with the first settlers to Salem in 1626, he probably had no idea that the port town would become America’s number one Halloween destination. A town named for “shalom” or “peace” appears to have capitalized on the not so tranquil aspects to Salem’s history.
Salem and witch go hand in hand in this town, with knick-knack stores selling cotton “Witch and Famous” T-shirts on its cobblestone streets. The tumultuous times of Salem became a business, right down to the corny T-shirts. The Witchcraft period of 1692 began when local girls became sick. Blaming their illnesses on fellow community members would result in hundreds accused of being witches and ultimately caused 19 supposed “witches” to be hung to death.
Visitors to Salem in October perhaps cannot help getting into the witch history the town has magnified. The Witch House on the edge of town, offers tours of local magistrate and civic leader Jonathan Corwin’s home, the only standing structure in Salem with direct ties to the witch trials of 1692. Corwin served on the Court of Oyer, sending the 19 “witches” to the gallows. Self-guided tours are offered for $8.25 a person to peruse 17th century architecture.
However, if travelers are not spooked enough, continue on Essex to the corner at Washington. Right next to Lappin Park sits a statue to Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in the TV series Bewitched. Donated by TV Land, the statue’s face is enough to cause a bit of shock and horror. It conveys no real resemblance to Montgomery’s features and may be enough to scare off Darrin, Larry Tate, Endora, and fans of the TV series about housewife and nose twitching witch Samantha and her episodes with being married to a mortal.
As Halloween draws near, many will flock to Salem with the town hosting an array of haunted walks, attractions, and parades. From T-shirts to TV show idols, Salem does fill the void for many searching to get in the mood for Halloween, but presents the reality of why Salem has become the Halloween hub, some horrendous trials over silly accusations.
Bewitched Statue in Salem, Massachusetts Photo Credit: Suzy Guese