Just north of Boston, Massachusetts lies Salem, the infamous site of the Salem Witch Trials. Rich in history from sea to land, Halloween makes the perfect time for ghost hunting. If you dare to explore the haunted side of Salem, visit each location in the guide below but don’t say we didn’t warn you!
In a Pig’s Eye
After the hysteria of the Witch Trials, illegal activity started to thrive in Salem. Across the street from The House of the Seven Gables on Derby Street, businesses like the restaurant In A Pig’s Eye attended to the needs of captains and sailors stopping at the flourishing seaport. Underground tunnels and brothels created the red-light district.
Legend says the tunnels from Derby Wharf took sea captains discretely to the brothels and allowed them also to kidnap young men, or “shanghai” them to serve as members of the ship’s crew.
The entire waterfront area teems with spirits from the maritime past, including eerie voices of sea captains long gone and alleged pirate apparitions.
No ghost town can claim the title without a haunted jail, and a variety of criminals called the Salem Jail home from around 1885 to 1991. It currently stands abandoned, except for the spirits of those who died while imprisoned there. It takes a strong constitution to walk the building, as many claim to hear crying, screaming, and chains rattling.
The sounds may be from the women imprisoned and accused of witchcraft, since the original 17th-century dungeon sits directly below the Salem Jail.
To house travelers passing through Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel opened its doors in 1925. Named after a famous Salem resident, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, guests have reported the sounds and sights of ghosts since the hotel first opened its doors.
Bridget Bishop, the first woman executed during the Salem Witch Trials originally owned an apple orchard on the grounds where the hotel was built. Many visitors to the hotel swear they smell fresh apples inside the building, even though no fruit trees now exist anywhere near the building.
Hawthorne Hotel has recently drawn the attention of paranormal researchers. Many of them claim to have confirmed the presence of so-called spiritual energy within the walls.
Joshua Ward House
Several different types of spirits reportedly haunt this site. Built around 1750, many people say they feel extremely uneasy upon entering the building. Spirits believed to inhabit the home include Giles Corey, pressed to death after refusing to enter a plea to the charge of witchcraft, George Corwin, the High Sheriff of Essex County during the trials, and an unnamed elderly woman who angrily haunts the stairs.
Burying Point Cemetery
One of the oldest cemeteries in the United States, the Burying Point Cemetery, or Charter Street Burial Ground, houses the bodies of Salem’s most prominent citizens and early settlers. Although no bodies from the Salem Witch Trials are buried here, the cemetery does contain a memorial to all the women and men killed for being suspected of witchcraft. A common practice at the time was to bury witches near their execution point in unmarked graves.
Visitors to the cemetery, especially later in the day, have mentioned a feeling of unease walking the rows, and some people swear they have spotted ghostly spirits or mist near the memorial.
Murphy’s Pub and Restaurant backs into the far corner of Burying Point Cemetery, making it unsurprising that so many people have viewed paranormal activity here. The most common sightings are of a young boy carrying a picnic basket and a lady from the Victorian-era clad in a blue dress.
Formerly a funeral home on Derby Street, locals gathered near the embalming equipment during the Prohibition era to swill illegal alcohol. Spirits in bottle form line the shelves now, but the liquor store’s assistant manager contends the store is haunted, providing tales of a phantom kitty and residual female spirit who roam behind the wine racks.
Danvers State Hospital
On top of Hawthorne Hill sits the haunted, former psychiatric facility, Danvers State Hospital. The immense building sits on the grounds of what was once the home of Jonathan Hawthorne, a presiding judge during the Salem Witch Trials. Numerous people have shared stories of sighting apparitions bearing a striking resemblance to the judge.
There are many reports of the cruel and experimental treatments forced upon patients residing at the hospital. Patients who died on the grounds walk corridors and the exterior of the building in spirit form, apparently searching for something they have yet to find.
Currently, a field used by schools for sports, on this spot the town carried out the execution of Bridget Bishop and 18 others accused of witchcraft during the trials. Many point to a plethora of evidence supporting spectral activity at Gallows Hill, including ghost videos, unexplained phenomenon, orbs, spooky mists, EMF readings, ghost pictures, apparitions, and digital audio recordings.
Anyone with an interest in the paranormal must tour Salem’s various local haunts and locations of alleged spirit activity. The entire town is alive with mystery, from the strange shops to the spine-chilling buildings. Salem is truly a ghost hunter’s dream where every doorway and window are new opportunities for glimpses into the past.
Although nighttime is when you expect spirits to make their appearance, the beauty of Salem is that anytime is ghost time!