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The Salem Inn - The West House Hauntings of Witch City


Among the charm and magickal intrigue of Salem, Massachusetts, sits a regal Federal style building with a black and gold sign across the front porch: the Salem Inn. Built in 1834 by Captain Nathaniel West, it is one of three buildings lovingly preserved and incorporated into the entire Salem Inn. Captain West was not only a wealthy sea faring man, he apparently enjoyed the company of several local working girls as well. By several, I mean several dozen. His first wife, Elizabeth Derby, enjoyed only so many years of marriage and prestige to West before they divorced in the early 1800's. The cause of their dissolution being a very public legal brawl, and likely an unhappy Elizabeth. West's affiliation with the the ladies of Salem's nights became known when several of them came to testify against him at the trial for his divorce. After Elizabeth's death in 1814, and West's remarrying in the 1830's, his home was constructed. Interestingly, Captain West's grand home was built on land once owned by Jonathan Corwin, an infamous judge of the witch trials a century and a half earlier.

Current inn owners Dick and Diane Pabich have restored the West home to exquisite appearance, and furnished it with carefully selected antiques. The personal touches are evident in the West House, as the art and decor invites guests into cozy settings in every room. Being the largest building of the three incorporated into the inn, it is also considered the most paranormally active as well. Staff and guests have come to consensus that something strange goes on in the place, even if the owners chalk it all up to the power of suggestion or well-woven tales from Salem's past. While the daylight hours of the West House are usually as calm and unextraordinary as one would expect in a quiet inn, witnesses have come forward through the years to recount their ghostly encounters. These strange situations happen so often, in the guestbook of the sitting room just inside the entrance, guests frequently chronicle their own spooky confrontations.

The spirits known to reside in the inn have been named and identified only through anecdotes over the years, as most are. There are several individual entities whose presences are felt most commonly. One is a fairly benign spirit, a little black cat that darts around the parlor. There's a spectral woman referred to by staff as Katherine, who can be felt rushing past guests and up the stairs, but she's never seen. There is also, unfortunately, no backstory for this female, but it's likely a name was quickly decided on in order to give the strange activity and rush of air in the halls a name and familiarity. The third is the spirit of a little boy who can be heard running about in the halls is the third most reported ghost at the inn. He's known to throw pebbles from the stairs, if you're lucky enough to catch that extremely rare form of activity.

Another reported apparition is that of Captain West himself, who's been seen on the third floor. His heavy boot steps have also been heard throughout the building. The top floor contains the family suites and some beautiful hardwood flooring, it's not difficult to imagine the sound of heavy footfalls echoing close by in the dark of one of those rooms.

My experience in this inn was comfortable and fairly quiet while staying in room 13. Ryan and I spent some time in Salem (a yearly tradition we're making happen again in a few weeks) and decided that a supposedly very haunted inn would be just up our alley. Our room, though spooky in number, isn't known for haunting activity like room 17 is. We were lucky though, 17 was directly above us. I remember saying to Ryan that if something unexplained happens above us, we'd at least be able to hear something, since no guests where in there that night. We investigated within the room that night, and heard the usual thumps, bumps and voices of other guests next to us. As the evening quieted down, TV's were turned off, and the place settled into a calm. After another hour in the quiet, we suddenly heard loud banging or walking just outside our door as though someone slammed through the hall angrily. Ryan immediately opened the door and walked around the first floor - not a soul was about; not even rustling movement from behind the doors of other guests. What else is odd, is that for as loud as the sounds were, no other guests had left their room to inspect the noise. Maybe though, we're just overly curious, or overly eager to experience the unexplained. I can say without a doubt after that we kept the TV on at low volume and drifted off to a comfortable, air-conditioned sleep.

The Salem Inn has three wonderful, historic buildings in its complex in downtown Salem, all within walking distance to famous attractions around the city. It sits within view of the Witch House, home of Jonathan Corwin the notorious and unrelenting witch trials judge. The First Period architecture that dots the city of Salem reminds one of the dark past and all that took place in this town to send 23 people to their unjustified deaths. The 19th Century Salem Inn is a cozy reminder of the welcoming and hospitable side of the town, and it's perhaps a little haunted.

Stay weird,

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