The entire town of Salem is included here, because its name is indelibly linked with witchcraft. Salem’s persecution and execution of innocent citizens in the late 1690s – most of whom were, in one way or another, “misfits,” and several of whom were unmarried women – is notorious. The word “witch hunt” is now synonymous with any institutionalized scapegoating of individuals or groups, such as of Communists and homosexuals during the McCarthy era.
Today, Salem capitalizes on its gruesome past with several campy museums, among them the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon (which features a re-enactment of a witch trial), the Salem Wax Museum, the Witch History Museum, and the Witch House (shown in an old postcard above – it was a judge’s home, where witch “examinations” took place). Salem is also home to the famous “House of the Seven Gables,” built in 1668, which is the oldest wooden structure in New England, and the inspiration for Hawthorne’s novel.