There has always been something ominous and intriguing about this fabled blue-black clapboard-sided house.
Its association with witches and the dark superstitions of the early colonial settlers also lends to its haunting qualities.
Here we are, well over three hundred years later, still admiring this beguiling home.
But it hasn’t always looked this way. The house underwent several substantial renovations and then restorations over the years.
The Jonathan Corwin House, known colloquially as The Witch House, is today a historic house museum located at 310 Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts.
Thought to be built sometime between 1620 and 1642, it was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718) who investigated and presided over some of the Salem Witch Trials. The house is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the witch trials of 1692.
Corwin bought the house in 1675 when he was 35, and lived there for more than 40 years. Remarkably, the home remained in the Corwin family until the mid-19th century
The dwelling is located on the corner of Essex and North Streets in Salem.
The house in its restored state is now an excellent example of 17th-century New England architecture, although historians have been unable to pinpoint an exact year when it was built.
In the 1940s, the City of Salem wanted to enlarge North Street, which would have required the demolition of the old Corwin House, but a group of concerned citizens raised $42,000 to save both this house and the neighboring Bowditch House.
Both houses ended up being moved about 35 feet back from their original location. The witch house was placed on a new foundation to stabilize it.
Let’s have a look back through time at some historic images of the house.
The un-dated drawing above depicts what the house looked like before the 19th century.
Below is how it appeared by the late 1800s.
Yes – that is the same house!
At some point after the turn of the 20th century, a storefront addition was added:
Here is the house – and the storefront – from another angle:
It’s fascinating how much the shape and the roofline of the home changed over the centuries.
As the photo above indicates, the Witch House is also known as the Roger Williams house – Williams is thought to have built and first occupied the home before Judge Jonathan Corwin purchased it.
Below is a collage of the different iterations of the home:
The last photo is said to have depicted the rear of the home before it was restored in the 1940s.
Here’s a closer look:
Below is one of the last photos taken of the house before being moved and restored to its original form:
This historic restoration began in 1944. The Witch House was completed and opened as a public museum in 1948.
What a transformation!
Gone is the gambrel roof – replaced with what is believed to be the original 3-gabled roofline.
Have a look inside the restored home…
The interior is set up to look as it would have in the 17th century
Visitors can get an immersive experience of what the home would have felt and looked like during the Salem Witch trials.
But it should be noted that historians do not believe that any of the witch trials took place in this actual house.
Still, it is a vivid representation of what domestic life would have been like back then.
Even if there were never any accused witches who set foot in this home, its connection to the Salem Witch Trials will always be its main draw.
Apart from the witch appeal, it is just a wonderful spooky-looking old, old house.
Bravo to the history-loving folks who made the restoration happen!