Lyceum Hall

Posted on January 23, 2020

Built in 1831, Lyceum Hall is a historical structure erected by the Salem Lyceum Society that served as an amphitheater capable of accommodating 700 people. Over the many years in operation, it held over a thousand lectures within it walls.

In spite of all of the eclectic people who visited it, Lyceum Hall is perhaps most famous for being the location in which Alexander Graham Bell placed the first telephone call on February 12, 1877.

Source: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/mmd/media/5697/mmd1759_l.jpg

Built at a cost of $4,000, or around $112,000 today, Lyceum Hall featured lectures, readings, and other such forms of entertainment popular during that period of time. Lectures were held every Tuesday, with a cover charge of $1 for men, and 75 cents for women, given that the women were first introduced my a male. My, how times have changed.

In the years that followed, the Salem Lyceum Society became able to afford to bring in outside speakers such as, Richard Henry Dana Jr., former President John Quincy Adams, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Frederick Douglass, and James Russell Lowell.

Salem’s most famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, while never directly speaking at Lyceum Hall, enlisted many of his associated to perform lectures there. Most famous of them are Horace Mann, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Webster, and Hawthorne’s publisher, James T. Fields.

As a result of this, Nathaniel Hawthorne is responsible for the largest fee ever to be paid to a speaker performing at the Hall. This accolade goes to Daniel Webster for his lecture on “The History of the Constitution of the United States”, for which he received $100, which is equivalent to over $2,600 in today’s money.

Fees paid aside, nothing quite compares to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who spoke nearly 30 times at Lyceum Hall. Emerson used his audiences to see if his subject matter garnered enough attraction worthy of turning into a book.

At the turn of the century, Lyceum Hall’s wooden structures burned as a result of a fire and were rebuilt and replaced with brick. Afterward, the new, sturdier structure housed businesses for many years, one of which was Lyceum Bar & Grill, which opened in 1989 by George Harrington and remained in operation for many years until finally closing down in 2011.

Today, Lyceum Hall is known as Turner’s Seafood, which has ties dating back to 1920, as well as some other connections that lend to it being one of the most visited places in Salem.

Ghostly Sightings at Turner’s Seafood

Turner’s is one of Salem’s most popular restaurants, not only for its great assortment of seafood, but because many believe it is haunted by the ghosts of Salem’s past. With ties to Salem’s darkest of days, there is little doubt as to what makes Turner’s Seafood a choice location for ghost-hunters.

It all stems back to the end of the 1600s when several women were accused of practicing witchcraft. One such woman was Bridget Bishop, who just so happens to have owned and maintained an apple orchard on the very grounds upon which Turner’s now sits. This was well before Lyceum Hall was built, too.

Source: https://www.turners-seafood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Untitled-792×594.png

Menacing History

Bridget Bishop holds the undesirable distinction of being the first woman tried and executed during the Salem Witch Trials. With history like that, you can see why building on top of her once-cherished apple orchard might cause unwanted hauntings for everyone involved.

While some argue that the menacing spirit belongs to a different witch from the trials, it makes the most sense that it is that of Bridget Bishop, as she had more accusations thrown her way than any other of the accused during that time.Bridget’s reputation seems to precede her, as her actions from the past seem to carry over to today’s hauntings. These aren’t your typical ghostly sightings; the occurrences are often very mean-spirited, scaring even the most grounded of people.

Dark Magic

We’re not just talking the standard fare of practicing witchcraft; Bridget was said to have used dark magic to conjure up demonic pigs and a flying monkey that she used to torment her neighbor. She’s even accused of having bewitched animals and townsfolk, along with murdering several of them.

Although she claimed to be innocent, it did no good; Bridget had a reputation that many looked down on, and her testimony was largely inconsistent. Her execution resulted in 18 more people meeting the same fate.

It’s interesting to note that no one experienced hauntings during the Lyceum Hall days. It was only when the building was used as a restaurant that people started to report sightings and paranormal activity. Perhaps this is due to a restaurant having more in connection with her apple orchard than would a public speaking facility.

In any event, numerous sightings of a female apparition have been reported by various patrons of the restaurant, as well as by its employees. The ghost is said to have a long, white gown that drifts behind her as she walks – a description right out of a horror movie.

In another eerie account, folks have seen her staring back at them in reflections throughout the building, from light fixtures to windows – anything with a reflective surface seems to invite her to gaze upon unwitting guests.

Employees have attested to store product being flung from shelves, as well as the feeling of a demonic presence nearby, as if watching their every move. The scent of apples is randomly and periodically able to be detected throughout the establishment, seeming to confirm that Bridget indeed haunts the place.

When hauntings like the above take place, it is often much darker than that of a lost spirit forever wandering the grounds upon which they used to walk. This is demonic, with the intent to not only scare their victims, but to cause physical harm.

When items are thrown around, it is a sure sign that there is a demon at work. Wherein ghosts simply appear and vanish, demons make menacing sounds, have the ability to move physical objects, and can even manifest other entities to help them in their cause.

A lot of Salem’s ghosts are reportedly friendly, with some of them even having a helpful nature, but the entity that inhabits Turner’s is of a completely different kind. Thankfully, no patrons of the restaurant have ever reported being injured as a result of her actions.

With all of the denying that Bridget did during her time of the trials, her otherworldly actions today seem to almost verify that she was a witch. And remember, the majority of those accused back then were later found to be innocent and were exonerated of all charges.

Conclusion

Salem with forever go down in history as a turning point in our nation’s rise. The Salem Witch Trials resulted in the deaths of many innocent men and women, all due to what ultimately turned out to be nothing more than one of the biggest cases of mass hysteria ever seen in our country.

A senseless accusation resulted in all of Salem being turned upside-down, as well as its surrounding towns. People seemed to have collectively lost their minds, and by doing so, dark times laid ahead. The results speak for themselves; many locations and buildings are deemed to be haunted, with nearly all of them having ties back to the Salem Witch Trials.

Turner’s Seafood has gained a reputation as being one of the finest places to dine in all of Salem, Massachusetts. And while it sure appears that it truly is haunted, this doesn’t seem to deter locals and tourists from eating at the establishment.

Quite the contrary, as curiosity in the dead seems to have reached a fever-pitch, it probably serves to attract visitors more than it does to repel them. And while many of Salem’s businesses appear to be just as equally haunted, few of them have forces quite so malevolent as that of Bridget Bishop’s demonic entity.

 

Sources:

http://www.noblenet.org/salem/wiki/index.php/Lyceum_Hall

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyceum_Hall

https://salemghosts.com/salem-lyceum-hall/

https://www.salemweb.com/tales/lyceum.php