Old Witch House

  • Old Witch House
  • Cousins, Frank, 1851-
  • Old Witch House in its previous location on the corner of Essex and North Streets. 

    The Witch House is currently situated on the corner of Summer and Essex Streets, and is also known as the Corwin House. There is much debate about when the structure was erected, but it is believed to be between 1630-1674 and is one of the oldest dwellings in the United States.

    Jonathan Corwin, a magistrate during the witchcraft hysteria of 1692, held many pre-trial examinations here of the accused witches. Corwin bought the house in 1675 from Capt. Nathaniel Davenport.

    The building underwent more changes when George P. Farrington owned in in the mid 1800's. The apothecary shop was added to the east side front in 1856.

    In 1944, when threatened with destruction, The Witch House became the catalyst that launched a wave of restoration in Salem. Historic Salem Inc. raised the $42,500 needed to move and restore the building.

    The new museum officially opened to the public in 1948 as a furnished historic site. It is owned by the city today and operates seasonally as a museum with guided tour. The building was moved in the winter of 1945 to allow widening of North Street. Also as part of that project, the Bowditch House was relocated on North Street next to the Witch House. The Corwin House was moved back 35 feet and a new pitched roof (a recreation of the original) was put on at this time. In 2008, grant money was received for repairs and to make the house wheelchair accessible.

    For a fascinating read and excelllent compilation of photos, check out the Streets of Salem blog.

    Additionally, John Goff's book Salem's Witch House : a touchstone to antiquity and Frank Cousins' book The Colonial Architecture of Salem, offer a great wealth of detail about this structure.

  • 1890
  • Frank Cousins Art Co.
  • No copyright restrictions


Cousins, Frank, 1851-, “Old Witch House,” Salem Public Library, accessed October 15, 2021, https://digitalheritage.noblenet.org/salem/items/show/87.


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