With KatieBug merrily bouncing off to play in the giant doggy playground with her buddies, we are off on our last overnights away from Buffumville. Our next trip will be “out-a-here” slowly making our way back home to Texas. Plans are to spend three days in Salem and try one last time to use our Groupon tickets for Cape Ann Whale Watch.
We arrived mid-morning at our second choice overnight. Our first choice, a bed and breakfast, was cancelled when we found rooms available at the historic Hawthorne Hotel. The hotel was less cost, located in the center of Salem, immersed in history and had the added bonus of marvelously eerie charm and rumored ghostly manifestations.
The small but acceptable room we were first given had one glaring exception, a headboard wall with a three foot long vertical split that was leaking plaster dust and a strong cherry scent that bothered my lungs. It was also on the fourth floor and I had requested the fifth. When I mentioned the needed room repair to the front desk, we were immediately moved to the fifth floor, suite 512, directly below the alleged 612 haunted suite. This was a room I would enjoy!
We settled into the suite before riding down the elevator for a late breakfast at Nathaniel’s with their friendly staff, beautiful dining area and excellent veggie omelets.
A quick peak into the Tavern before walking out onto the street for an afternoon explore.
The Salem Witch Museum was cattycorner to the hotel, standing near the statue of John Hathorne, the infamous Witch Trials Judge. Having been there and done that, we passed by in search historic homes and interesting shops.
Salem is an eclectic mixture of unusual Gothic costumed adults hawking the occult, elderly folk strolling the sidewalks, park sitters and their fur-babies, tourists wandering about following guide maps, old money hiding in centuries old homes behind closed doors avoiding all the touristy craziness, witch/warlock and ghoul tour guides leading visitors through the city at dusk, and the downtrodden walking their dogs along the edge of shadows before disappearing into dark alleyways.
Doug Floyds quote; “You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note” and is an accurate description of Salem’s harmonious interconnecting vibe. It is a town that screams supernatural celebrations, embracing its sordid “witch trials” past life but keeping a firm grip on the reality of what it takes to captivate tourist dollars. Occult shops line the streets and I readily admit, some diabolical window displays pulled us into a few.
When our children were young I was known as the family Witch Doctor, mainly because I used holistic and natural cures for what ailed the four of us. Showing no mercy, John took villainous pleasure, on multiple occasions, teasing me about imaginary Salem family ties and me visiting my relatives. I paused to admire a magic wand in Wynott’s Wands front window and that sent him off again. I warned him that if he continued, I would buy the wand and there would be another towed, a real live toad, living in our LilyPad with KatieBug and I.
On the opposite corner across from the hotel, Patrick Dougherty’s natural artistic creation of tree saplings woven together and expertly crafted. It is Peabody Essex Museums first commissioned outdoor artwork. With a crew of 50 staff and volunteers, the project was completed and availed a counterpoint to the wood frame Crowninshield-Bentley House in the foreground that dates back to early 18th century. Patrick designed “What The Birds Know” with shapes suggesting swallow nests but its spectral presence and distorted sway conveniently fit into the upcoming ghostly Halloween celebration decor.
As you can tell by John checking out the inside, these art structures are gigantic.
We joined dozens of tourists wandering the streets and came upon the Home for Aged Women, donated by Robert Brookhouse in 1861. The home was built for Benjamin W Crowninshield (1772-1851) member of congress and Secretary of the Navy under Madison and Monroe. William Crowninshield Endicott (1826-1900), was born under this roof and became Justice of our Supreme Judicial Court and Secretary of War under Cleveland.
Still in use, a few pale faces peeked out from the half drawn blinds and a frail tiny elderly lady sat in a yard chair on the side of the house, watching me as I studied the plaque and took pictures of her stately home.
The home is situated across the street from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, facing the ocean so that its residents can gaze out to sea. The Friendship of Salem, a reconstruction of the three mast,171 foot Salem East Indiaman built in 1797, is anchored at the Maritime dock.
Dinner by the ocean at a small café and an early evening stroll back to our suite for the night. Nothing floating down the halls, deathly silent upstairs, not a groan or a creak did we hear from shut eye to day break.
Bright sunlight was sneaking under our drawn shades and lighting up the room so we rose to explore the town via walking shoes for a second day. Today’s agenda included a quick breakfast and additional roaming around the town in search of Salem’s intriguing architectural and historic points of interest.
Our meandering down side streets brought us to The House of Seven Gables museum complex which included several period homes and the main attraction, the house that Nathaniel Hawthorne made famous. Caroline Emmerton, a philanthropist and preservationist, founded the present day museum complex to assist immigrant families who were settling in Salem.
The House of Seven Gables was built in 1668 by a Salem sea captain, John Turner. It was occupied by three generations of the Turner family before being sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782. When Ingersoll died, he left the property to his daughter Susanna, a cousin of famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Caroline purchased the old Turner Mansion in 1908 and worked with architect Joseph Everett Chandler to restore it to its original seven gables, as close to the description in Nathaniel’s book as possible. She even had a storefront built into the side of the house to keep the story aligned with the structure of the house. Chandler was a central figure in the early 20th century historic preservation movement and his philosophy influenced the way the house was preserved.
The Retire Beckett House is the oldest building on the museum complex, built in 1655 by the famous family of shipbuilders. It was built in memory of the most famous of the Beckett ship builders. Originally located close to the water on Beckett Street a half mile away, Caroline Emmerton had the house moved to its current location.
Another of the museums acquisitions was The Hooper-Hathaway House, built in 1682 for Benjamin Hooper. Caroline rescued the Jacobean/Post Medieval style home from destruction in 1911 and moved it to the museum complex.
We had visited Salem when I was pregnant with Josh but at that time we only viewed the outside of the House of Seven Gables as I was uncomfortable with the thought of trying to squeeze up the narrow hidden staircase beside the chimney. This time, oddly enough, I had no fear of getting stuck. With 35 additional years and many pounds added from head to toe, I managed to ascend the narrow circular staircase without becoming wedged between the metal bars and the chimney brick, despite the snug fit. Whew! My tight squeeze was rewarded with an amazing view of the ocean.
Nathaniel’s gothic novel, written in 1850, follows a New England family and their ancestral home. He examines themes of guilt, retribution and atonement and colors the tale with notions of the supernatural and witchcraft. The Gabled house in Salem and his ancestors, who played pivotal roles in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, influenced the tone of his book.
It was obvious why he frequented the home, warm and inviting inside with amazing ocean views just out the front door.
No pictures are allowed indoors but, as you can imagine, it is filled with the décor and furnishings of that time period, beautifully decorated and beautifully restored. The house is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England.
After the tour we left the ocean area en route to town. John finally convinced me to break for an early dinner at Bella Verona, a little Italian restaurant we had passed by several times. He was in the mood for linguini with clam sauce so it was the opportune time. We had the enjoyable Italian atmosphere, music, food and service all to ourselves as the restaurant was completely empty of other diners our entire dining stay.
The Visitors Center in town was showing a movie of Salem’s history so we joined a group of foreign tourists and relaxed in the comfy padded chairs, both of us enjoying the half hour show. Back out on the street to meet up with our evening tour group in town.
As we walked along the town square, street lights with ship figure heads mounted on their poles were being displayed.
TripAdvisor rated Hocus Pocus Tours particularly well so we chose the 90 minute sunset stroll that included more Salem history, less kitschy gore. We met in front of the East India Marine Hall as the sun began to slip into the night.
The Salem Witch Trials, the horrific reality of Salem’s past, was where most of the tours focused attention. Our husband and wife team tour guides mixed in amusing anecdotes, little known historical facts regarding Salem’s rich and powerful, political events leading up to the trials and what transpired after the trials. They skillfully told stories of Salem’s more colorful citizens and kept us engaged by capturing our attention with quirky tales and suggesting favorable local dining establishments.
One of our stops was in front of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. On either side of the front door stood tightly placed headstones, all unreadable. When someone died, they were regularly buried one body on top of another. The headstones were placed helter-skelter by whichever headstone was brought up from the basement at the time of the burial. No rhyme nor reason, non-specific to the deceased.
Another stop was near the statue of Samantha in Bewitched, placed by the television company near one of the TV program show scenes.
Bewitched, the TV show many of us baby boomers watched religiously, was about a witch housewife played by Elizabeth Montgomery and her adventures being married to a mortal.
The Hawthorn Hotel was used as lodging for the cast and crew after a 1970’s fire damaged the soundstage where the show was filmed. As a solution to continued filming while the sets were being repaired, episodes were filmed in and around Salem and Gloucester. It is strongly believed that Elizabeth Montgomery and William Asher stayed in room 512, our room.
Appearing in a few of the episodes as the hotel where Darrin and Samantha stayed, the name appears as it was during that period of time, The Hawthorn Motor Hotel. In the episode “Samantha’s Bad Day in Salem”, the hotel’s elevators appear along with the lobby. The mail chute between them looks the same today as it did on the show.
Although we slept through the night without metaphysical happenings, rumors are that the smell of apples can be detected in the hotel although no apples are on the menu. The owner of the apple orchard that stood where the hotel stands today, Bridget Bishop, was the first person executed during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. I smelled cherry’s in our first room. Probably no haunted significance, just someone leaving behind hidden fragrant cherry candy…or not.
There are stories about room 325 at the hotel having bathroom lights and plumbing turn on seemingly of their own accord. Strange sounds and sensations, such as a child crying and invisible hands touching guests have also been reported with this room.
Room 612, the suite directly above ours, is said to be the scene of hauntings. A spectral woman wanders the hall, pausing in front of the room. Within the room itself, some guests have claimed to feel an unseen presence sharing the room with them.
Prior to being Nathaniel’s, the restaurant was known as The Main Brace. It featured a nautical theme. The restaurant had a large ship’s wheel as part of its decor. On occasion the wheel was seen to turn by itself, seemingly by a seafarer spirit, maybe the Gloucester Fisherman came for a visit?
There are stories of a hotel employee who refused to work nights in the room known as the “Lower Deck” after witnessing unexplained phenomena. After setting up the room, he would return later to find furniture moved into new positions.
In October of 2007, the Hawthorne Hotel was featured in an episode of the TV show Ghost Hunters. Investigations were made of the 6th floor, room 625 and room 312. We slept sand-“witched” between, in room 525 but slept fitfully through our three night stay without a supernatural episode.
Towards the end of the tour, we walked by the 1692 Old Burying Point graveyard, the oldest burying ground in the city of Salem. Entombed here is Justice John Hathorne who showed no regret or sorrow for the horrific judgments he passed down on innocent people. John was the great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne the writer. Nathaniel suffered great distress at his ancestor’s lack of remorse over the trials and may have adopted the addition of “w” in the spelling of his last name to dissociate himself from the judge.
Next to the Burying Point, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial was constructed as a monument of bereavement for the deaths of the 14 women and 6 men accused of being witches in 1692. Separated from, but alongside the graveyard, are 20 granite benches that make up the memorial. The large granite pieces are cantilevered and set at varying heights protruding out from a low stone wall. Each bench is inscribed with the accused’s name, date of execution and the means by which they were put to death. As we stood in the darkness listening to the story of unimaginable cruelty and suffering, it evoked shivers that ran up my spine. The Witch Trials Memorial was dedicated by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in August 1992 as part of the Salem Witch Trials 300th Anniversary.
Up exceptionally early this morning for my long awaited Cape Ann Whale Watching Cruise. Although 40 minutes away, it was an easy drive to Gloucester, we had reservations and the owner said today was a go…this was finally going to happen!
The ship was docked next to the office, as ready to get started as I.
Our small group stood waiting by the gangplank and were soon welcomed aboard the Hurricane II for our whale watching experience. Padded seats inside, waterproof seats outside, snacks available to purchase, pictures of the sea life we might see posted inside the cabin, greetings from friendly crew and captain, a marine biologist visiting around the boat answering questions and a drop dead gorgeous calm day. Expectations were over the moon.
Our outbound trip was spent reading all about the life and times of whales, what other sea creatures we might see and in what area the whales would appear. Nothing yet. Passing Eastern Point Lighthouse.
Still nothing. Up ahead, the Twin Lighthouses and beyond, open ocean.
A shout out from the captain, sea junk portside. The crew tried to pull it to the ship but the weight overwhelmed their poles. Crew radioed the junk into shore patrol for pick up.
Passing large and small fishing boats scattered along our path. In the distance, an expansive group of fishing boats, paused and bobbing gently up and down.
As we moved closer, huge black humps were spewing salty sea mist high into the air.
One by one they arched their backs, flipping their giant black and white tails up into the air and disappearing down into the ocean, mere yards away from some of the small fishing fleet of boats.
The fishermen watched, as did we, the dozens of whales performing their feeding gymnastics, over and over.
We saw two, then three and in one area, two different breeds of whales fishing together.
Our group would dash from one side of the boat to the other, snapping Kodak moments, chatting excitedly in an unintelligible chorus of languages. The captain would hail “whale at 2:00” calling out the sighting direction and everyone would fall dead silent to hear his words before rushing to that side of the boat to see more whales.
One of the guests spotted a huge Mola Mola (sunfish) floating near the surface and the crowd surrounded him. No more Mola Mola by the time I got through.
Whale tails all have different markings and from the captains count, we saw about 20 whales in the fishing area.
As exciting as it was to see all the whales, feeding whales are not the most interesting to watch and do not burst from the water up into the air, breaching spectacularly as we saw them do in Alaska. On the other hand, in Alaska you may not approach as near as is allowed in Oregon and Massachusetts. There are always trade offs.
The captain guided the boat towards a pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins and we saw the waters erupt with bodies pulsing through the waters, splashing their way across the bow of our boat. We turned, they turned. Another boat came by and they switched directions.
One came straight towards our boat and ducked under, popping up on the other side.
Mother and babies swam together without separating as the pod moved away from the boats and out to sea.
The captain announced that our sea journey time had run out and we must return to land. All that fresh sea air and excitement kept the crew and passengers in high chat mode as we all sat enjoying the journey back to shore. Anticipation of the whales now fulfilled, passengers noticed the sights along the shore…a castle,
the Salem shoreline,
a small lobster boat returning with its fresh catch from the sea caught our attention just before docking.
Mentally pumped but physically drained, we drove back to Salem along the shore, parked at the hotel and strolled around the square before returning to our room to retire. No ghostly hanky-panky materialize, calm and quiet all night.
Sunlight waking us on our last morning in Salem, we decided a unique breakfast was deserved. Walking through town square, down a few blocks to our destination, The Ugly Mug.
Specialty lighting fixtures, an eclectic attentive staff, excellent choice of designer style breakfast offerings, quirky tables and chairs, this was a perfect ending to our stay.
Our return to the hotel took us past a magnificent brick building that stood within 12 feet of a site hugely significant to American history. A few yards away, from 1718 until 1785, stood the Town House where the last General Assembly of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay met to protest the stamp act in 1765. These same gentlemen denounced the tea tax in 1769, joining together as American Indians to pitch tea into Boston Harbor.
The current brick building was constructed for, and occupied by, First Church in 1826. The church rented out the storefront on the first floor to businesses. Apprentice silversmith Daniel Low opened shop in this tiny Washington Street storefront in 1867. Gradually he took over the entire floor and by 1889, was running the largest jewelry store in the country. In 1923, Daniel Low and Company bought out the three story building. Now beautifully restored, Colonial Hall was resurrected under a new name, Rockafellas, serving the Salem community as an elegant event hall.
All packed up and on our way back to Buffumville, picked up an exhausted but happy KatieBug, time for one last special New England meal to complete our amazing mini vacation.
I loved walking around the Wayside Inn and the Wayside Inn Grist Mill grounds when we lived in Marlborough. The Grist Mill is the first working mill to be built as a museum and was commissioned by Henry Ford. Work began on the mill in 1924.
The mill was finished in 1929 and operates with millstones imported from France and high-quality 18th century milling machinery purchased by Ford’s antiques buyers. When Ford died in 1947, the Mill ceased operations, his family selling off the land until the Wayside Inn property returned to its original 125 acres.
In 1952, the Mill began full operations under a least agreement with Wayside Inn and Pepperidge Farm, providing a full-time Miller to produce the wheat flour for the company’s product. The Wayside Inn Grist Mill shipped out its entire flour output to Pepperidge Farm plants, 48 tons of whole wheat flour a month, during the 15 year agreement.
The Grist Mill currently produces 5–15 tons of flour per year which is used in the restaurant’s baked goods and is sold in the Inn Gift Shop.
Along with the fully working replica of the Grist Mill, Henry Ford built a replica of a non-denominational church, named after his mother, Mary, and mother in law, Martha.
Entering through the Inn’s hand carved detailed wooden doors with hand blown glass window panes, steps you backwards into the past, 300 years ago.
The Inn was frequented by Longfellow and made popular by his writings. It is reputed to be the oldest operating inn in the country and it retains its original Colonial ambiance. Just inside the Inn is a room depicting how the dining room would have appeared.
The David Howe Tavern preserves much of the colonial flavor of its 1716 tavern days and is located just inside to the right.
We sat in the main formal dining area. The small group of patrons dining in the room were elderly white haired ladies…I fit right in!
We dined quietly, finishing our meal and taking time to relax before our drive home. Our mini vacation over, we prepped for last visits with family and friends and the arduous task of packing it all up, storing it all away and starting our long journey home to Texas.