The Witch House is one of the only remaining structures in town with direct ties to The Salem Witch Trials. You may also hear it referred to as “The Witch House,” or “The Jonathan Corwin House.” Here’s a short video introduction to the building. Keep reading past the video for much more information.
The house is the only remaining structure that’s directly related to the infamous Witch Trials in 1692. Originally built for Captain Richard Davenport, the Witch House became Jonathan Corwin’s residence in 1674. The judge, who was on the court that ruled on the Salem Witch Trials, stayed in the house for 40 years, but the building remained in his family for several generations. Corwin also reportedly held meetings relating to the trials in the house. Throughout the years, The Witch House has undergone many renovations. In the 1850s, the house was sold to a local pharmacist who opened a pharmacy inside the building.
In 1944, the city decided to widen North Street. The house was set to be destroyed to make way, but the building survived thanks to a group of locals. They raised enough money to move the building about 35 feet to its current location. An added bit of interesting history about this house is that it wasn’t the only “Witch House” in Salem. StreetsOfSalem has an excellent examination of Salem’s other no-longer-existing witch house, complete with fascinating historical images.
The house is also quite haunted, second perhaps only to The Hawthorne Hotel. In fact, Ghost Adventures did an episode there and ToSalem favorite AmysCrypt has also covered the locale. Visitors have reported a variety paranormal phenomena over the years, including seeing the ghost of Corwin himself. Guests also experience apparitions’ touch, hear the untraceable laughter of children, and feel cold spots.
What’s Inside The Witch House?
The Witch House tour is one of the best in Salem. You’ll enter through the rear of the house. Inside, you’ll find countless items from the 17th century, including some fairly disturbing illustrations of what life was actually like back in the 17th century. Additionally, there are fascinating placards that explore some pretty offbeat history. My favorites tend to explore the odd medicinal ingredients and practices of our puritan forebears.
There are, of course, plenty of relics related to puritan-era witchcraft. For example, in one display case, you’ll find a simple black shoe. The shoe was supposedly found inside the wall of another house. According to puritan tradition, a shoe put inside the wall of a house effectively warded against witches. Another display case houses a poppet – a doll supposedly used to perform witchcraft. Such dolls were instrumental in accusing the likes of Bridget Bishop and others during the Salem Witch Trials.
The Witch House Architecture and Historical Artifacts
The Witch House is a nearly unmatched example of its period’s architecture. Only the John Ward and John Turner houses, both operated and with tours offered by the Peabody Essex Museum, competes for such pristine 17th century architecture in Salem. In addition the witchcraft items on display during the tour, you’ll also find tools, textiles, pottery, artwork, instruments, and much more from the era. The house contains four large rooms: a kitchen, a parlor and two bedrooms. The tour begins in the kitchen, which has a brick fireplace that covers almost an entire wall. From there you wind upstairs, through the rest of the house.
Guided tours are around $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for kids. You can also just walk around the house without a guide for about 20% less. The entire experience takes about thirty minutes to an hour. There is also a gift shop on the way in and out of the house.
Hours of Operation
March, 15 to November, 15: open everyday 10 AM – 5 PM
Winter Hours (November, 16 to March, 14): Thursday – Sunday 12 PM – 4 AM