We did a day trip on our vacation up to Salem, MA. We've gone there before, in October, when the crowds were thick and full of unusually dressed people, making you think they are on their way to Diagon Alley. It seems Salem is a bit of a witch mecca, which is really ironic considering how fervently the residents in 1692 sought to eradicate any presence of witchcraft out of their town.
It seems some young girls started accusing women of practicing witchcraft, snowballing a flurry of accusations and trials. Hundreds of people were investigated, 19 were sent to the gallows, and one man was pressed to death for failing to make a plea. It didn't end until the girls went too far and accused the govenor's wife. There is a memorial next to the cemetary with each of the names of the sentenced. Some of their statements are engraved in stone and are really sad, "I am wholly innocent of this wickedness", "I will speak the truth as long as I live", "God knows I am innocent." Very sad. Moving on now...
I really liked visiting Salem when it wasn't so crowded, mostly because my favorite part of Salem is the Architecture. We first toured The Witch House, which dates back to at least 1675 and is a great example of 17th century architecture with its overhanging top story, narrow unpainted clapboards, and small diamond windows. I find this style very dark and dreary. The home belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges responsible for trying the witch cases.
It has a typical enormous hearth from that time, where the women would have several cooking fires going at once, not unlike our using several stove top burners. With their long skirts moving amongst the fires, they were at high risk of catching themselves aflame. To prevent it, they often would dampen the bottoms of their dresses. Even so, infected burns were a common cause of death at that time. To keep the little ones out of the fire, they would tie them to themselves with strings. Thus the source of "tied to his mother's apron strings". Another reason to be glad we live when we do!
Enough of the depressing, and time for the pretty stuff! My favorite Architecture styles are Georgian and Federal. The McIntyre district of Salem, named after architect Samuel McIntyre, is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods to see these old houses, especially along Chestnut Street:
Aren't they the most beautiful houses you've ever seen?