Sep 12, 2012

Salem Witch Trial Memorial Re-dedication

This past Sunday, a re-dedication ceremony was held for the Salem Witch Trial Memorial following some restoration. I debated on sitting on this post for the Countdown to Halloween but I don't feel it quite fits. While there's no denying witches are a huge part of Salem's tourist attraction, this is a bit more than broomsticks and pointy hats.

While the Salem Witch Trials only lasted for 15 months, they left an undeniable mark on history. 20 people were executed in 1692 for witchcraft, 19 hanged and one pressed to death. In August 1992, the Witch Trials' TerCentenary, a memorial was erected in downtown Salem honoring those who would not confess to false accusation. Since it opened in 1992, its estimated that more than 6 million people have visited it!

Salem Witch Trials Memorial sign

One September 9, 2012, a re-dedication was held after some much needed restoration was completed. You can see a photo of what it used to look like here. And below is what it looks like now.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial grounds

There are 20 stone benches along the side walls which hold the name of the accused along with their date and means of execution. If you look along the gray strip at bottom of the sign above, those quotes are engraved in stone on the ground just as you enter the memorial area.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial

The ceremony was very nice, starting off with the Salem High acapella group doing their version of John Lennon's "Imagine." A few people spoke: a woman who had been involved with the memorial since it was being planned, the mayor of Salem, and actor/author GregAlan Williams who was the first recipient of the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice .

Also in attendance were a number of people that are direct descendants of those the memorial was created to remember. While a recording of a bell rang, they walked over to the memorial to place evergreen cuttings and flowers on the stones of those they are related to.

Salem Witch Trial Memorial Sarah Good

You can see photos of all 20 stones on Flickr along with some local color including the adjacent Pickman house that is one of Salem's oldest buildings and part of the Charter Street Historical section. Also adjacent to the memorial is The Burying Point, Salem's oldest cemetery. I don't have any photos of it for this post, but maybe I'll get some for October.

6 comments:

  1. Great photos. I would like to visit there someday. Reading the words on those stones is unsettling; to see the manner of death listed so matter-of-factly like that is chilling.

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    1. Thanks! If you ever find yourself in the area, gimme a tweet or something and I can give you the local tour. I think they're up to about 500 walking ghost tours now. There used to only be one or two a few years ago and it seems like more are springing up every year.

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  2. I think this would be a wonderful place to see and walk through.

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    Replies
    1. Salem is a great town to explore on foot.

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  3. Salem is on my visit list. It's right up there on a list of places I like to see.

    Dan

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    Replies
    1. The best/worst time to visit is in October, especially the weekend before Halloween. It's like a big costume party in the streets.

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