See the Sights from Salem’s Heritage Trail

Salem’s Red Line – or Heritage Trail – exists to guide visitors between historic sites and destinations. Intended to inspire self-guided exploration, there are a few stops along the way that you might not want to miss.

The National Park Service Salem Regional Visitor Center, 2 New Liberty Street, is a perfect place to start. Watch the free 27-minute film, Where Past is Present, which appeals to all ages and provides an overview of Salem’s and Essex County’s history. From here, cross the street…

The Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, is the oldest continually operated museum in the country. The museum features exceptional collections of art and culture as from around the world including Asian art, Asian export art, Maritime art, Native American art, as well as changing exhibits and programming. Continue west on Essex Street…

East India Marine Hall faces the fountain at East India Square and contains the original display cases and some of the very first objects collected by the Salem captains who established the Peabody Essex Museum in 1799. Continue along Essex Street…

You will pass boutiques, shops, cafes, and the Witch History Museum. At the corner of Essex and Washington Streets, pause at the former Daniel Low Building to read the plaque that notes the building as the site of Salem’s first Town Hall, and the location where delegates for the first Continental Congress were chosen in 1774. Turn around and you will see…

The fountain in Town House Square marks the supposed location of Salem’s first fresh water source, which was immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his short story, A Rill from the Town Pump. The 1970s era fountain was restored in 2014, when a marble base with Hawthorne’s words was installed. Cross Washington Street to…

 

The statue of Samantha Stevens from Bewitched. The television series filmed several episodes in Salem in the early 1970s after fire damaged the studios in California. The statue was erected by TV Land in 2005, and today she is one of the most photographed landmarks. Continue along Essex Street, cross Summer Street and…

You will see the 17th-century Witch House. The only building still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, this was the family home of Judge Jonathan Corwin. Across the street you will see…

 

A monument remembering Salem Captain William Driver, who named the American flag “Old Glory.” Today, that flag, which was given to Driver by his mother as he departed on a trip, is part of the Smithsonian collection.

Adjacent to the Driver plaque is the entrance to the Samuel McIntire Architectural District. Brochures for the self-guided walking tour of this remarkable neighborhood are available at the Visitor Center and online.

Salem, MA, Ropes Mansion

Adjacent to the Witch House is the First Church in Salem, which was the parish of many of the accused during the Salem Witch Trials. This church features stunning Gothic architecture and Tiffany windows.

The Heritage Trail finds its end on Essex Street at the Ropes Mansion, which is part of the Peabody Essex Museum collection. The Ropes Gardens are open and free to the public.

Reversing direction, turn left on North Street and continue to Lynde Street. Turn right on Lynde and walk to the Witch Dungeon Museum, which features a plaque that remembers “The With Gaol.” The original “gaol” (jail) was located on Federal Street, two blocks from the Witch Dungeon Museum (not on the Red Line). Continue along Lynde Street and turn right onto Washington Street…

Salem City Hall at 93 Washington Street was built in 1837-38 from funds dispersed to Salem from a US Treasury Surplus. The Mayor’s office and City Council chambers have remained unchanged since 1838. Continue to Front Street, so named because this was the original Salem Waterfront. Turn left, walking past…

Old Town Hall in Derby Square. The oldest surviving municipal structure in Salem, Old Town Hall dates back to 1816-17. The second floor of the building, Great Hall, has always been used as a public hall, and contained Town offices until 1837. The first floor functioned as a public market and today is home to the Salem Museum. Follow Front Street, which will turn into Charter Street…

The Old Burying Point Cemetery is the second oldest English graveyard in Massachusetts. This Cemetery has a few remarkable residents including one Mayflower passenger, architect Samuel McIntire, and Witch Trials Judge John Hathorne (great grandfather to Nathaniel Hawthorne).

Behind the cemetery on Liberty Street is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Dedicated in 1992 by Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel, pause to pay respects to the 20 innocent people executed during the Witch Trials of 1692.

From the Memorial, follow the Heritage Trail down Liberty Street past the Salem Wax Museum and Witch Village, turning left onto Derby Street. You will pass shops, restaurants, and the New England Pirate Museum on your way to the waterfront, where the Red Line turns right and loops through the shops and restaurants of Pickering Wharf.

On the eastern side Pickering Wharf, there is a plaque remembering the Frigate ESSEX, which was constructed on Winter Island. She sailed from Salem in 1799 to serve in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. Her story was “epic in Naval history.”

Back on Derby Street, turn right toward the Salem Maritime National Historical Site, where historic buildings, wharves, and the reconstructed tall ship FRIENDSHIP* tell the stories of the sailors, Revolutionary War privateers, and merchants who brought the riches of the world to America.

 

 

Continue down Derby Street to Ye Olde Pepper Companie, a candy store noted for its Gibralters and Blackjacks, two of the first commercially produced candies in America. Across Derby Street you will find…

New England’s oldest wooden mansion, the House of the Seven Gables, which was made famous by the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne it inspired. Today it is part of its own National Historic District, comprised of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, Hooper-Hathaway House, Hawthorne’s birthplace, and the seaside gardens.

From here the Heritage Trail continues two blocks to Blaney Street and Salem Wharf, where the Salem Ferry to Boston docks. Reverse direction, and return from the waterfront via the path that cuts through the National Park between the brick Derby House and the yellow Hawkes House, passing the 17th-century Narbonne House onto Essex Street.

Turn left on Essex Street and walk to Hawthorne Boulevard, turning right at the corner by the Hawthorne HotelRecognized as a Historic Hotel of America, the Hawthorne was built by public subscription in 1925.

Adjacent to the Hawthorne Hotel is Salem Common, which was established as a public grazing land in the 17th-century. In the 18th-century it was used as a training ground for the militia, and was the location of the first muster of the American National Guard.

Across from the northwest corner of Salem Common is the statue of Roger Conant. Conant founded Salem in 1626 for the Dorchester Company from England. Behind the Conant statue in an 1845 stone building that was once the Second Church Unitarian, is the Salem Witch Museum.

Turning back toward Essex Street, the Red Line turns right and returns to the tour’s beginning at the Salem Regional Visitor Center. This last block is significant however, as it includes Crow Haven Corner, which is thought to be the first witch shop in America, on the left, and several significant buildings on the Peabody Essex Museum campus on the right.

However you choose to follow Salem’s Heritage Trail, the three loops of Red Line have four centuries of stories to tell and dozens of sites to visit along the way.

*The FRIENDSHIP is currently undergoing a refurbishment in drydock in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She will return to Salem later this year.

Salem.org