In the heart of New England, where cobblestone streets echo with the whispers of yesteryears, lies Salem, Massachusetts – a town forever sealed in history by the chilling events of the 1692 Witch Trials.
But beyond the textbooks and stories of trials, Salem’s shadows dance with stories far more haunting – did you know that there are fairly many haunting2.s? As dusk descends and the lanterns flicker to life, the spirits of those long gone emerge, reminding residents and visitors alike that the past is never truly buried.
1. The Witch House (Jonathan Corwin House)
Did you know that this is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Witch Trials of 1692? Originally, it was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the trials – so, at this point, this house has been around for about 3 centuries of history with a lot of ghost encounters.
Where it is: 148 Washington St, Salem
Let’s dive in deeper into what type of hauntings you can find there!
Not only staff but also visitors have been reporting seeing apparitions of men and women dressed in typical 17th-century clothing. Some believe it’s those that died during the witch trials, others think that it’s the survivors that are still plagued with guilt from that time.
If you go into the house (especially during summer), you will feel some areas of the house to be inexplicably cold – and no, it’s not due to the ac! Dare to see for yourself?
Unexplained Noises and Objects Moving
Footsteps, whispers, furniture being rearranged, small items being displaced, and even the sound of chains have been heard when no one else is around. Apparently, you can hear these sounds and see this happen, especially during the evening hours – can you imagine noticing this yourself?
Some visitors and staff have been reporting to feel watched or followed as they’ve moved through the rooms – some others even said their hand was touched when no one was near!
Note: If you’re sensitive to the paranormal, you may start feeling nauseous and sick when you enter, especially as you go past the gift shop and further in.
Who Haunts the Witch House?
While it’s hard to pinpoint exact identities, some speculate that the spirits haunting the house could be those who were interrogated by Judge Corwin. Others believe that the energy of the house, given its connection to such a tragic period in history, has attracted spirits unrelated to the Witch Trials.
There’s also the possibility that Judge Corwin himself, burdened by the weight of his decisions, might still roam the halls of his former home – personally, I feel like this is the least likely possibility, though. I think the most likely hauntings are either through the victims or other survivors who are still carrying the guilt from it.
2. The Joshua Ward House
Built on the former site of the home of George Corwin, the notorious High Sheriff during the Witch Trials, this house is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who were tortured and died there – but what exactly happens there?
Where it is: 148 Washington St, Salem
Reported Hauntings are the Joshua Ward House
Built in the 1780s, the house stands on the former site of the home of George Corwin, the High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials. Corwin was notorious for his brutal methods of extracting confessions from the accused, and his legacy has left an indelible mark on the property – hence why I don’t think he’s the one haunting these places from guilt.
But who’s haunting the Joshua Ward House? Here are some of the reported hauntings associated with it:
The Strangling Sheriff
George Corwin, often referred to as “The Strangling Sheriff,” is believed to be one of the primary spirits haunting the house. He earned this nickname due to his method of tying the accused witches’ necks to their ankles until blood flowed from their noses – absolutely terrible, I know.
Many visitors have reported seeing his apparition, and some have even claimed to have been choked or felt pressure around their necks while inside the house – super creepy!
If you want to know more about the history of this house and its history book a tour by Ghostcitytours here – in my opinion, this is the best way to get to know and hear about haunted places!
The Spirit of Giles Corey
Giles Corey, an elderly farmer, was pressed to death with heavy stones for refusing to enter a plea during the Witch Trials. His spirit is said to haunt the grounds of the Joshua Ward House, as it was George Corwin who oversaw his torturous death.
Both staff and visitors have made reports of a shadowy figure resembling Corey appearing in photographs taken at the house.
The Lady in Black
One of the most frequently reported apparitions is that of a woman in black. She is believed to be the spirit of a woman who was accused of witchcraft and died under Corwin’s custody. Visitors have reported seeing her wandering the hallways, often appearing distraught – some have even claimed to see her crying (who can blame her?).
Because of these tragedies, many visitors have reported feeling so much sadness and dread as soon as they enter a certain room of the house. Though, it’s normal that a place can have residual energy left behind after such tragedies happened.
Visiting The Joshua Ward House
Unfortunately, it’s closed off to the public as it houses the Higginson Book Company and Carlson Realty, so most of the experiences you will find online was by either the employees or visitors related to those businesses.
3. Gallows Hill
The Gallows Hill is where it is thought that 19 accused witches were hung after the trials concluded. The exact location of the hangings on Gallows Hill remained a mystery for many years, but recent research suggests that the hangings likely took place on a spot known as Proctor’s Ledge – the real Gallows Hill.
Where it is: 33 Proctor, Pope St, Salem
If you look closer at the history of Gallows Hill, you will find that historians don’t actually know the exact place of it, only an estimate. It’s also said that the “witches” were likely not hung from the trees, but from ladders (or also known as gallows) and were just thrown into the ditch after they died – after dark, it was said that families of the victims would come to get them in their boats and bring them to the homestead to give them proper burials. For example, Rebecca Nurse, who was one of the victims, was buried by her family on the homestead after the tragedy.
Want to know more about this story and its history? Either read this article by Ghostcitytours, or take a tour by them here!
Reported Hauntings at the Gallows Hill
The thing is, that it’s not fully known where the hangings were, though the hill is known to have had many suicides and other hauntings. So, while nobody has been seeing any specific people or figures, both locals and visitors have reported seeing apparitions of people hanging from trees or floating in the air – believed to be the accused witches who met their tragic end on the hill.
However, that’s not all, others have heard mourning cries, shrieks or whispers, and even the sound of ropes creaking, especially during twilight hours. While others have noticed cold spots (yes, even during warm weather) and experiencing feelings of despair like sadness and just a general feeling of unease.
Giles Corey’s Curse
While Giles Corey was not hanged at Gallows Hill (he was pressed to death elsewhere), legend has it that he placed a curse on Salem and its sheriff. It’s said that his spirit can sometimes be seen around Gallows Hill, especially during times of strife or significant events in Salem.
Next to that, other shadow figures have been seen moving swiftly across the hill, quickly disappearing as quickly as they appeared.
Enjoying the haunting tales so far? Check out my own haunted experience at the Sorrel House in Savannah.
4. The Hawthorne Hotel
The Hawthorne Hotel, located in the heart of Salem, Massachusetts, is an iconic establishment that has been welcoming guests since 1925 – but it’s also voted as one of the most haunted hotels in America.
Named after the famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was born in Salem and wrote extensively about the area’s history and superstitions. The hotel has become a staple in Salem’s rich tapestry – and is said to be haunted by several spirits, with guests reporting unexplained phenomena in certain rooms.
Where it is: 18 Washington Square W, Salem
Tragic History of Hawthorne Hotel
While it was designed to be a multipurpose and prestige building, it also suffered tragedy through a fire in 1845, 1859, and 1860 – yes, three times! In the 1920s it became a hotel, despite it being home to the Salem Marine Society first.
Have you ever seen the original movie Bewitched from the 1960s? Well, this movie was filmed in this very hotel! If you’re a fan, you can find some of the old memorabilia that was used for filming in the lobby of the hotel.
Something else happened in 1997 – can you guess? Yes, another fire. Right when they were preparing for the annual Halloween ball, a small fire started in the basement and while no one was hurt and nothing was damaged, the supernatural activity has been happening ever since.
Reported Hauntings at the Hawthorne Hotel
While the Hawthorne Hotel was built with the intent of being a modern, upscale establishment for travelers and has since hosted numerous celebrities, dignitaries, and even a U.S. president – it’s also been experiencing a lot of ghost encounters since the openings.
This room is often cited as the most haunted in the hotel. Staff and guests have reported faucets turning on by themselves, lights flickering, and an unexplained cold presence. Some have even claimed to have seen the apparition of a baby crying near the window – who it exactly is though? No one knows.
In this room guests have reported seeing an apparition of a woman wandering the halls outside this room. While on the inside, there have been reports of unexplained temperature drops and the sensation of being watched – can you imagine wanting to lay down and relax and just feel watched? Oh my.
Want to stay a night in one of these rooms? Book your stay here!
The Maritime Ballroom
Some guests have reported seeing spectral dancers moving to inaudible music in the ballroom, though, nobody really knows who they are and from what time they’re coming from. However, there have also been reports of ghostly laughter and conversations echoing through the room when it’s empty.
The hotel has been long known to be haunted, so if you stay there, you may also experience a variety of other things, such as:
- Unexplained odors of apples – Interestingly enough, Salem’s maritime trade history includes a significant apple export business.
- Elevator activity – The hotel’s elevator has been known to operate on its own, stopping at the sixth floor without being called, a personal horror idea of mine.
- Feelings of unease and being watched – Many guests experience a general feeling of unease and being watched in certain areas of the hotel, but particularly in the hallways and some of the older rooms (such as 325 and 612).
- 6th floor – Once belonging to the Salem Marine Society, some see ship helm turning and other objects moving.
Where To Stay In Salem, Massachusetts
- Budget ($) — Amelia Payson House
- Best Value ($$) — Northey Street House Bed and Breakfast
- Luxe ($$$) —- The Salem Inn
- Unique ($-$$$) —-Hawthorne Hotel
Have you ever thought about staying at a haunted hotel and seeing what all the fuss is about? Check out the top 5 haunted hotels in Salem!
5. Howard Street Cemetery
Established in the 17th century, the Howard Street Cemetery is one of Salem’s oldest burial grounds. It has seen the town evolve from a colonial settlement to a bustling maritime port. The cemetery’s most infamous resident is perhaps Giles Corey, an elderly farmer who met a tragic fate during the Salem Witch Trials – he’s really everywhere and haunts Salem in its entirety! Considering what happened..would you not?
Where it is: 807 Howard Street Burying Ground, Salem
Already excited about visiting Salem but need a little help planning your trip? You need this guide!
History of Giles Corey and Why He Haunts Salem
Giles Corey’s story is one of the most harrowing tales from the Witch Trials. Accused of witchcraft in 1692, he refused to enter a plea. As a result, he was subjected to a brutal form of execution known as “pressing,” where heavy stones were placed on his body until he was crushed to death – so, when you visit, keep an eye out for an unmarked grave.
Legend has it that with his last breath, Corey cursed the town of Salem and its sheriffs. Visitors have reported seeing a spectral figure resembling Corey, especially during tumultuous times or significant events in Salem. Some even claim that his appearance is an omen of bad fortune.
Haunted Howard Street Cemetery
While Giles Corey’s spirit is the most famous, he’s not the only ghostly resident of the cemetery. Over the years, visitors have recounted various unexplained phenomena: cold spots even on warm days, the feeling of being watched, and faint whispers when no one else is around. Shadowy figures have been spotted darting between tombstones, and some have even captured orbs or misty shapes in their photographs – I wasn’t one of the lucky ones unfortunately.
Want to have the story told by a local? I love those the most! Here’s an amazing tour that you shouldn’t miss out on!
6. Old Burying Point Cemetery
Established in 1637, the Old Burying Point Cemetery has witnessed the evolution of Salem from its early colonial days to its prominence as a maritime port and its infamous period during the Salem Witch Trials. You can find gravestones, with intricate carvings from most of the people that were involved with the witch trials – offer a window into the lives, beliefs, and sentiments of the people from bygone eras.
Where it is: 51 Charter St, Salem
Who’s Buried at Old Burying Point Cemetery?
The cemetery is the final resting place for several notable figures, including John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials and an ancestor of the renowned author Nathaniel Hawthorne. His involvement in the trials and the subsequent impact on his descendant’s writings adds a layer of intrigue to the cemetery’s lore.
Here are others who are buried there:
- Mayflower passenger
- Captain Richard Moore
- Last governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
- Simon Bradstreet
If you want to read more about the history of Salem, I highly recommend the very book Nathanial Hawthorne wrote.
Hauntings at Old Burying Point Cemetery
Given its age and connection to significant historical events, it’s no surprise that the Old Burying Point Cemetery is haunted. Therefore, many visitors have reported a range of eerie experiences, from cold spots and unexplained shadows to the apparitions of colonial-era figures wandering amidst the tombstones.
Specifically, the ghostly figure of a woman, Mary Bright Corey, who died in 1684 and had nothing to do with the witch hysteria, has been spotted on numerous occasions, her presence marked by a palpable sense of sorrow. Sadly, Mary’s husband, Giles Corey became victim of the witch hysteria and is thought to haunt this cemetery.
Nonetheless, there’s another woman known to haunt this cemetery, no one knows who she is but she’s known to wear a blue dress while holding a picnic basket. Some historians believe that she died in one of the fires of the town, though, no one knows for sure.
Looking for exciting places to visit this Halloween? Check out these articles:
7. Ropes Mansion
Built in the early 1720s and later renovated in the Georgian style, the Ropes Mansion is a shining example of colonial American architecture. It was home to four generations of the Ropes family, who were prominent figures in Salem’s maritime and cultural history.
Best part? Today, the mansion is not only a private residence but also a museum, showcasing period-appropriate furnishings and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the opulent lifestyles of Salem’s elite during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Address: 318 Essex Street, Salem
Note: Ever watched Hocus Pocus? Then you will probably recognize this house from the Halloween Party – *Psst* I have an entire list of all locations here!
The Tragic Tale of Abigail “Nabby” Ropes
The most well-known ghostly tale associated with the Ropes Mansion centers around Abigail Ropes, who was Nathanial Rope’s daughter and died in 1839 due to fire. Legend has it that in the early 19th century, a fire broke out in the mansion, tragically claiming Abigail’s life when her dress caught fire.
Since then, many believe that her spirit remains tethered to the home. Reports of sightings of a woman in period clothing, believed to be Abigail, have been frequent. She’s often seen near windows or in rooms that were significant to her during her lifetime.
Other Paranormal Encounters
Beyond the apparition of Abigail, visitors and residents have recounted a myriad of supernatural experiences. These include unexplained cold drafts, the scent of phantom perfumes, and the soft rustling of old-fashioned dresses. On some occasions, guests have heard the faint sounds of laughter or music, echoing from a time long past – super spooky, right?
Visiting the Ropes Mansion
You can visit the ropes mansion as it’s now a museum! More specifically, it’s part of the Peabody Essex Museum, you can do self-guided tours for free on the weekend.
8. Lyceum Hall
Constructed in 1830, Lyceum Hall (also known as the Lyceum Bar and Grill) served first as a lecture hall where prominent figures, including the illustrious Alexander Graham Bell, showcased their ideas and inventions, later it was turned into a series of different restaurants.
Since 2013 it’s Turner’s Seafood that offers seafood and oysters.
Where it is: 43 Church Street, Salem
The Spirit of Bridget Bishop
Perhaps the most famous ghostly resident of Lyceum Hall is Bridget Bishop, the first person executed during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. While the hall wasn’t built until much later, it stands on land that was once owned by Bishop. She inherited the Bishop apple orchard from her second husband, who also had the “Ship Tavern” on the property where they used to live.
Visitors and staff have reported sightings of a woman in period clothing, believed to be Bridget, wandering the premises. Once known as the woman in red, many now call her the woman in white due to the color of her dress. Her presence is often accompanied by a sudden drop in temperature or the inexplicable scent of apples, a nod to the apple orchard she once owned – still wanting to prove her innocence.
Other Hauntings at Lyceum Hall
Beyond Bridget Bishop’s apparition, Lyceum Hall has been a hotspot for various supernatural occurrences. Soft whispers in empty rooms, the turning on and off of light, clinking of unseen glasses, and shadowy figures darting through the hallways have all been reported. Some have even claimed to hear the distant sounds of a trial, with murmurs and cries echoing from the past.
9. Salem Jail
Constructed in 1813, the Salem Jail operated for nearly two centuries, making it one of the oldest correctional facilities in the country. Over the years, it housed a myriad of inmates, from petty thieves to more notorious criminals. However, by the late 20th century, the jail’s outdated facilities and deteriorating condition led to its closure in 1991.
Where it is: 50 St. Peter’s Street, Salem
Remember Giles Corey? The one that’s been haunting most of Salem? This is the site where he died – and likely opened the door to the many supernatural experiences.
Despite the many renovations, by the 1960s the prison was still fairly unremodeled without proper plumbing, forcing many inmates to use buckets rather than toilets – oi, adding to the misery!
Once housing some of Boston’s notorious criminals, the Salem Jail finally shut its doors for good in 1991, and by 2009, it had been converted into an apartment building.
Ghosts Behind Bars
Given its long history and the intense emotions that jails inherently witness – despair, anger, regret – it’s no surprise that the Salem Jail is reputed to be haunted. It’s estimated that within the early years of the prison about 50 inmates were hung, either as a sentence or as a suicide. In 1893, Charles Kennet of Lynn hung himself in the dining room, a staff member of the formerly known Essex County Correctional Institute.
Former inmates, guards, and even visitors have reported a range of paranormal experiences:
- Former Inmates – Ghostly figures, often seen in period clothing, have been spotted wandering the cell blocks and corridors. Some appear momentarily, while others seem almost tangible before vanishing into thin air.
- Sounds – Chains rattling, doors slamming shut, and disembodied voices echoing through empty halls have been reported. On occasion, even mournful cries or distant laughter can be heard – super creepy.
- Cold spots and phantom touches – Certain areas within the jail are known to have sudden, unexplained cold spots. Visitors have also recounted feeling unseen hands touch or grab them, especially in the older sections of the facility.
Some of the potential spirits that may be haunting the jail:
- The Boston Strangler (1960s) – Albert DeSalvo, 13 murders
- Confederate soldiers from the Civil War era
Visiting Salem Jail
While you can’t visit this building per se since it’s not a jail anymore but a residential complex and restaurant, you can visit the A&B Restaurant – yes, that one’s haunted too!
10. Turner-Ingersoll Mansion (House of the Seven Gables)
Dating back to 1668, this colonial mansion is renowned for its unique architecture, characterized by its gabled rooftops. The House of the Seven Gables is perhaps best known for its connection to the celebrated American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, though it was constructed for Captain John Turner, a hat and shoe merchant.
Inspired by the mansion’s mystique and his own family’s connection to Salem’s history, Hawthorne penned his famous novel “The House of the Seven Gables,” immortalizing the mansion in American literature.
Where it is: 115 Derby St, Salem
Hauntings at Turner-Ingersoll Mansion
Considering its ancient history, this mansion harbors many stories of supernatural activity and legends. Did you know it has a secret staircase?
Let’s talk about some of the other hauntings first.
Here are some:
The Spirit of Susannah Ingersoll
A former resident of the mansion, Susannah is often believed to be its most prominent ghostly inhabitant. While you may haven’t heard of her, she’s the cousin of Nathanial Hawthorne who convinced him to change his name and add that “w” to not be recognized as being related to the judge (we see how this turned out, ha). Visitors have reported sightings of a woman resembling her, wandering the halls or peering out of windows.
Other Supernatural Experiences
There are various other supernatural experiences that have taken place at this old mansion, including phantom footsteps where many have heard someone walking up and down that secret staircase but no one was actually there. Not to mention, many have also felt a chill and being watched or followed – especially when it comes to the mansion’s attic with its dimly lit corners. Others have said they saw a boy playing in the attic and also feeling hands pressing on their throat – what do you think?
When visiting, make sure to hold your camera to any reflections that you walk past as visitors and staff have seen ghostly figures reflected in the old mirrors that quickly disappear again.
Visit House of the Seven Gables in Salem
The best part about this mansion is that you can go and see the 8 different rooms in the mansion as it was transformed into a museum – yes, it’s not 7 but 8 gables.
Last Thoughts about Hauntings in Salem, MA
As you venture through Salem, you’re not just exploring landmarks; you’re stepping into narratives that have shaped American culture. I want to invite you to experience these amazing yet spooky sites for yourself, to feel the whispers of bygone eras and perhaps catch a glimpse of the spectral residents who linger.
However, as you embark on this journey, I want to urge you to tread with respect and honor both the living history and the memories that these places hold – especially as many of these places are now residences.
What are you waiting for? Go and explore! Who knows, maybe you will just catch a glimpse of the past…