Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Things to do in the Witch City!

Well here are a few tips from a Piney who moved to Salem 26 years ago!

Kayaking: The coves near Derby Wharf  and Collins Cove on either end of the peninsula are always like glass and are amazing. Make sure you row into the Juniper Neck area right before Winter Island with its majestic Victorian homes lit up at night. The coves are amazing when the stars reflect into the water where seals may swim next to you. Just be careful of the mudflats, so watch your tides. The mudflats extended out for a football field of mud that will suck your shoes into it at low tide. Safe, but aggravating. Also try kayaking under the Kernwood Bridge where you will see hundreds of starfish attached to the pylons.

Haunted Locations: There is Elsie who haunts the ladies room at Murphy's. She fell in from the Old Burial Point behind the bar. Then the Flushing Ghost at Turner's Seafood built on the grounds of Witchcraft Hysteria victim Bridget Bishop's apple orchard and the site of the first phone call. Another building attached to the tunnels in town. Then the tunnel over the graves of runaway slaves that the inventor of the souvenir spoon sealed shut under three feet of cement at Rockefellas. Maybe you can hear the ghosts of the marching band at the gazebo on the Common. How about a haunted parking lot? By the Salem Ferry was the most haunted house till it was torn down; now ghosts might steal your cellphone and throw it into the sea, or at least drain the battery quick. Also go visit my favorite tombstone. It is of a woman named Lizzy. All that is on the stone is her name and a finger pointing into the air. You can find it close to the old seawall nearest the old prison that houses the Bitbar 1980's arcade restaurant under a tree just off Bridge Street...

Plus there is countless haunted private homes...

Architecture and History: Make sure you visit the House of the Seven Gables and the Witch House. Both are First Period homes filled with gorgeous exposed beams and huge brick fireplaces you can cook in. At the House of Seven Gables you might learn what 'pop goes the weasel', 'Sleep tight, don't let the bed bites bite', why people slept in short beds, why the ceilings are so low, and that people were six feet tall then and lived sometimes to 100. There is a lot of secrets in the home Hawthorne was inspired by; including a secret staircase and a smuggling tunnel in the basement. The Witch House; a possible home of an alchemist. The judge along with many others who persecuted others for witchcraft owned the library of the biggest occult mage of the 1500's. Find out about the local superstitions of the time. This was originally before the judge the house of Roger Williams who founded Rhode Island, inspired Thomas Jefferson, and founded the Baptist Church. Salem residents kicked him out of town before the Witchcraft Hysteria due to the fact he believed in separation of Church and State and fair compensation to the Native Americans for their property. Make sure you attended their Erie Events with period actors telling ghost stories! Afterward, walk through the McIntire District and see all the homes connected to the tunnels in the town from the nineteenth century and before. Make sure you see the fairy tale carriage house on Bott's Court and the Ropes Garden on Essex Street. Also the neighborhood around the Seven Gables has some wonderful rustic colonial homes too. It is a good step back in time. Then step back further in time and visit Pioneer Village near Forest River Park, a 1600 village. Forest River Park was paid for by the woman who led the first archaeologic dig of the Pueblos. She had Fredrick Law Olmsted design the grounds, one of the many properties on the North Shore designed by him.

Inventors: Check out the site Tesla built a power plant at on the grounds of what is Shetland Properties now. Or how about the home of Moses Farmer on Pearl Street who invented the light bulb that Edison bought that lit up his house before anyone else in the world. Then on North Street next to the Speedway gas station is the home of the inventor of the #2 pencil, single lens reflex camera lens, and graphite crucible used to coin money, Joseph Dixon of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. To find out about the castle built by Tesla's friend see our last entry for day trips outside of Salem.

Drinks: Stop of and get a drink at Jolie Tea net to the Hawthorne Hotel. Parisian themed little jaunt with chocolate, madeleines, scones, and 300 varieties of tea. Great place to chill and contemplate set in a building with another tunnel in the basement built by a man who shaped our national banking and was Secretary of the Navy. For something harder, see below.

Night Life: Make sure you hear some wonderful original music in a basement decorated by the Indian section of Pier One. Brick walls, shuffleboard, Prohibition Era cocktails, great selection of craft beers, and great music to dance to. At Opus Underground you might see Tigerman Woah, Absolute Gentlemen, and Freevolt. Also you might venture to Rockefellas and jam out in a haunted bar with a secret tunnel in the bar that was built in the first church in the country. In fact Opus was an underground train station attached to the 8 tunnel systems in Salem. Salem is an amazing place where members of Boston could of been heard regularly on a Wednesday if Peter Wolf was not filling in, Godsmack originally played in as a Alice in Chains cover band, Duke Ellington spent 5 summers playing down there at the Salem Willows, and a guy could tour the world with the Beatles and spend a few years in our local prison for shooting a witch.

Magic: Check out Wynotts Wand shop that could put Olivander's to shame. It is right next to Remember Salem which is a Harry Potter themed shop with a little Game of Thrones and Dr. Who thrown into the mix. For another type of magic check out the Magic Parlor on Essex Street for Hollywood make up and slights of hand tricks.

Tours: Try the Salem Smugglers Tour to learn about the real murder behind the game Clue, how residents of Salem shaped the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, the roots of Skull & Bones, the beginning of our opioid crisis, northern cession, the Second Witchcraft Hysteria of 1811,  H.P. Lovecraft's Salem, the unaccounted for assassinations of three presidents, and the tunnels that made it all happen. The tour guide is the author of Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City and Sub Rosa. You might of seen him walking through the tunnels with Robert Irvine on the Travel Channel. These are the tunnels that appear in Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich, talked about in the Librarians TV Show, and Carol Perry's Witch City Mysteries. Also for something different try Sinister Stories led by a singing Quaker in Plain Clothes.

Day Trips: Now just across the Beverly Salem Bridge to the right is the entrance to Rt #127. Just go across in front of Dane Street Beach and head right on Hale Street to begin your journey up the Gold Coast of Boston. A winding road filled with mansions of the gilded age along the ocean. On the way make sure you stop at Rafe's Chasm, Beauport, Ravenswood, Tuck's Point, Coolidge Estate, and Hammond Castle. Hammond Castle is that place Tesla would visit. Through Mark Twain Tesla met John Hammond Sr. Twain met him when he tried to help the creator of apartheid take over the Trans Val in South Africa and almost got hanged. While the father was recuperating,  John Hammond Jr. fell in love with the castles of England and in time would take pieces of ruins back to America to build his own from the profits of the inventions Tesla gave him to pursue, like radio controlled missiles. Then when Tesla tried to create free electricity the father help ruin his plans by investing millions in copper to create electrical lines for power plants.  This castle Tesla and Hammond would conduct psychic experiments in.

On another day drive up Rt #22 and visit Long Hill Gardens, a beautiful Georgian estate with a fabulous garden that will knock your socks off. How about a trip up Rt #97 and stop at a ruin across from the entrance to the Beverly airport built by Olmsted. On Rt #133 stop in Essex at the Flying Dragon and White Elephant antique stores, Russell Orchards farm stand, and Castle Hill mansion that has been in Witches of Eastwick and Ghost of Girlfriend's Past. Honestly the woods north of Salem are my favorite, maybe they will be yours too.

Probably not what you expected, but a definite good time!