10 Fascinating Facts About the Salem Witch House in Massachusetts
The Witch House in Salem, MA, attracts thousands of visitors every year, but its history is a lot more dark and complicated than meets the eye. The house is the only remaining structure that you can visit in Salem that has direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. It was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, a local magistrate and civic leader who investigated the claims of witchcraft in town. He served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which ultimately led to the execution of 19 people for their "crimes," despite all 19 maintaining their innocence.
The house, which is located at 310 Essex Street, was purchased by Corwin in 1675. He lived there for nearly 40 years and it remained in his family until the mid-1800s. Because of its lasting impact on history, many museums around Salem have put together specialized overviews of the house, including the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem City Guide, and The Witch House. You can also check out photos from inside the house from people who have previously visited.
Whether you want to visit the famous spot on Halloween or learn more about the Salem witch trials, keep reading for 10 facts about the infamous witch house.
It's Open to the Public
The House Remained in the Corwin Family For Years
The house was owned by Judge Jonathan Corwin, and sources state that most of the pretrials for the Salem witch trials were actually conducted inside the house, labeling it as the "Witch House." After Corwin's death in 1718, it was continuously passed down in his family until the 1850s when it sold to a pharmacist named George Farrington who added a pharmacy to the side of the building. The house also later served as an antique store called the Witch House Antiques.
It Was Almost Destroyed
In 1944, some citizens of Salem wanted a fresh start and planned to tear the house down. However, another group of citizens (the Historic Salem Inc.) believed the house was essential to history and raised a total of $42,500 to restore the building.
A Book Was Written About the House
The book Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt was written about the use of the house for pretrials. Written by Diane Foulds, the story follows the Salem witch trials from a personal perspective. Each chapter is divided by stories told from the accusers, victims, judges, and citizens of Salem. Judge Corwin's chapter entails the pretrials that took place in the Witch House, which led to the deaths of 19 people.
Corwin's Mother-in-Law and Child Were Accused of Witchcraft
Margaret Thatcher, a wealthy woman who was also the mother-in-law of Judge Corwin, was accused of witchcraft by one of her servants but was never prosecuted. One of Corwin's children also faced witchcraft allegations after having "outbreaks" that included lashing-out, delusions, and seizures. Like Thatcher, this case was also dismissed.
The Appearance of Poppets
Poppets were believed to be powerful and mystical dolls in New England. Just like voodoo dolls, poppets would resemble those afflicted by witchcraft and be kept in jars as a symbol of being captured.
Bridget Bishop, one of the women executed in the witch trials, was accused of having poppets stuck with pins on her walls by men who worked on her house in 1685. According to the judges, this was a display of "counter-magic" that protected her, but instead these dolls were used against her in her trial as proof of murder against her two husbands.
It Inspired the Sanderson Sister House in Hocus Pocus
While the Salem Witch House doesn't make an appearance in Hocus Pocus despite the movie being filmed and based in Salem and involving witches, the house is located on the same block as Allison's mansion. It also most likely inspired the look of the Sanderson sisters' cottage (peep the similar looking windows and all-around eeriness).