Posted on December 27, 2019
Salem, Massachusetts is known for its haunted history, perhaps none more so than that of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. That event alone seemed to have set off a firestorm of paranormal activity, and anyone who has looked into Salem’s past surely knows about the House of the Seven Gables.
It has been the source of many haunted tales throughout its history, and rightfully so – the connection that it has with the Salem Witch Trials is legendary. And while it has been restored over the years, some claim that doing so has only served to exacerbate the ghostly happenings.
If you’re curious as to how all of this came to be, read ahead to get the full details.
What is the House of the Seven Gables?
Built in 1668 for Captain John Turner, the House of Seven Gables is a colonial mansion located in Salem, Massachusetts, with the Turner family remaining as the home’s owner for three generations. Initially known as the Turner House, the House of the Seven Gables got its new title from author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name.
Named after its triangular peaks, or gables, the mansion is now open to the public as a museum. While it is non-profit, there is an admission fee to take a tour. The House of the Seven Gables also offers educational programs for children that coincide with current events, such as social reform and immigration.
But that’s the here and now. How did the House of the Seven Gables come to be known as one of Salem, Massachusetts’ most haunted manors? For that we need to step back and reverse the hands of time for a moment…
The Turner House
When Captain John Turner had his now-famous home built for him way back in 1668, it started off as a rather quaint dwelling. It was added on to over the years to become the mansion that it remains today.
John Turner’s success in business afforded him the ability to do this, with it becoming the epicenter of economy in Puritan New England times. He was already the head of one of New England’s most successful maritime families at the time, with trading, fishing, and mercantile businesses serving to cause a boom in the local economy.
However, John Turner eventually died at sea, and his widowed wife married another sea captain by the name of Charles Redford. Knowing that his fate would most likely be met at sea, Captain Redford ensured in his will that the mansion would go to his new stepchildren.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, and Captain Redford’s recently-acquired home was passed on to the Turner children without issue. It is after this that the house began to become a major part of the Salem Witch Trial’s lore.
The Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials are a well-known series of events that unfolded from February 1692 through May 1693. A total of 19 innocent people were executed in what turned out to be nothing more than mass hysteria. Emotions ran high during this time period, resulting in over 200 people being accused of performing witchcraft.
While all were later fully exonerated, at the time townsfolk were fearful of their lives and the lives of loved ones. It didn’t take much more than a passing accusation to be put on trial. John Turner Jr. was well aware of this and rightfully wanted to protect his sisters during this manic time.
With the knowledge that children as young as four were being accused and faced potential death, John built a hidden staircase along the fireplace within the Turner mansion. This and many other aspects of the home will come into play shortly.
The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion
After enjoying the mansion for three generations – and after the last of the Turner’s died without any remaining heirs – it was eventually sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll. This is where author Nathaniel Hawthorne and his novel finally come into play.
Hawthorne would often visit Captain Ingersoll’s daughter, Susannah, at the mansion. Here he would make notes of its design, eventually inspiring him to write the now-famous novel The House of the Seven Gables. The name stuck, and The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion was henceforth known as the House of the Seven Gables.
Reported Paranormal Activity
With its connection to, and close relation of the Salem Witch Trials, the House of the Seven Gables has become a staple in ghostly storytelling. Throughout the years since the horrific happenings of the trials, many witnesses have claimed to have seen or encountered the spirits of yesteryear.
Silhouettes in the shadows of every floor, the ghost of a little boy playing near the attic, and even the spirit of Susannah Ingersoll are just a few of the entities said to have been seen. Often, the undead are seen near the gables of the mansion, further adding to its fright.
The haunted manor has more unexplained actions from within, such as lights turning off and on at will, as well as water faucets actuating all on their own. Museum staff and visitors alike have reported the feeling of an unknown entity in the house.
A psychic woman once took a tour of the house and claimed that she saw a young boy playing up near the gables, even going so far as to capture him in a photograph.
Adding further intrigue to the home’s haunted history, it was recently revealed that hidden rooms were discovered within the house – a dining room where musicals and dances were once hosted, as well as an accounting room, which was written about in Hawthorne’s novel.
As you can see from the picture above, this is the same staircase mentioned earlier that was built by John Turner Jr. himself so that he and his sisters could find refuge in the event that any of them were falsely accused of witchcraft.
All of these oddities combine to make for one of New England’s most famous haunted dwellings.
What was once built to be a loving home in which a successful family could live, the House of the
Seven Gables is now known as just the opposite. With a long history of hauntings retold over the years, this once peaceful sanctuary became anything but that with its close relation to the execution of 19 innocent people.
At one time, society found their flawed thinking to be perfectly rational. Often what isn’t understood – or feared – leads some to act out in the worst ways imaginable. In this case, the Salem Witch Trials and the horror surrounding it; people lived in sheer panic stemming from a few allegations.
Sadly, innocent victims had to pay the ultimate price for society’s bent thinking. There is certainly a lesson to be learned through all of this. And that is the fact that we cannot act on our emotions alone, especially – and most importantly – when we don’t have all of the facts. Throughout history, mankind has shown that the worst often comes out when we let our emotions get the better of us.
All it took was a few people alleging witchcraft, and 19 people died as a result – with hundreds more put to shame. Upon looking back, it proves the depths that we can sink in order to fulfill a cause. There is, however, a bright side to the horror. As mentioned, the House of the Seven Gables now operates as a museum, teaching a newer generation of the fragile times in which we once lived.
We can look at all of the terrible history leading up to the trials and hopefully gain some perspective by relating to today’s ongoing divisions. And if the House of the Seven Gables now stands to impart some wisdom in our thinking, then perhaps there’s a happy ending here after all.