I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited Salem Massachusetts for the day. Of course, I have seen the episodes of “Bewitched” (There is a statue in town of actress Elizabeth Montgomery as witch Samantha Stevens.), and I knew Salem was the only city in America with an official witch (Laurie Cabot, proclaimed so by Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1970s). I’ve also read several books about the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, and there are a couple of titles on my “to-read” list as I write this blog. While vacationing in Massachusetts, I knew that I had to see for myself whether I’d find the historic or the cheesy.
At Pickering Wharf
For example, we could have visited the House of Seven Gables, the 17th century museum that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work by the same name. It’s one of many house tours in Salem, representing different eras in Salem’s long history. The Phillips House dates to the 1800s. You might also see the Pickering House or the Ropes Mansion, just to name a few. There are also guided and self-guided walking tours available, focusing on the trials, Hawthorne, ghosts and spirits, and other facets of Salem’s history.
The highlight of our day in Salem, however, was the Peabody Essex Museum, which we didn’t even know existed. The Peabody Essex is a fantastic art and cultural history museum that got its start in the collections of objects brought home by Salem’s sea captains and sailors who sailed the world. The collection of Asian, African, and Native American artifacts is amazing. Asian export art is a key part of the exhibits, and visitors can see the result of the meeting of East and West. There is much to see, and a visitor can easily spend hours here. The PEM also oversees 22 of the historic houses and structures open for visits in Salem.
We only saw a small bit of Salem, but we definitely fell under its spell and hope to get back there someday.