Salem’s Haunted Hawthorne Hotel

Named after author Nathaniel Hawthorne, Salem’s Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club is responsible for this joint venture, The Hawthorne Hotel. Over one thousand residents and businessmen invested in the building under the plan to invigorate the town with a modern hotel — and they succeeded!

Construction finished in 1925, selling over one million dollars of stock to locals. Further highlighting the hotel’s history, a drive took place to raise money to commission a statue in the likeness of the hotel’s namesake, Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is located just a few yards away.

The site chosen for the Hawthorne Hotel is a piece of land once owned by the Salem Marine Society. Valuing their property, the group sold their land under the stipulation that they would be allowed to maintain their presence at the hotel once built.

Keeping to the hotel’s end of the bargain, the rooftop of the Hawthorne features a replica of the cabin from an East India trading vessel known as the Taria Topan, where the Salem Marine Society still meets to this day. 

But they’re not alone. What specters reside at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel in Salem? Follow along to dive into the hauntings of this historic hotel.

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The Splendor of the Hawthorne Hotel

The Hawthorne Hotel officially opened for business with a three-day celebration on July 21, 1925. Such is its well-renowned grandeur that many famous people have elected to stay here, including Johnny Cash, Liza Minnelli, Bette Davis, former president George Bush, Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, and the cast from the 1970s sitcom “Bewitched,” which also featured the hotel in one of its episodes.

Famed actress Vanessa Redgrave even lived at the Hawthorne Hotel for an entire month while filming the television show Three Sovereigns for Sarah.

When the Hawthorne Hotel opened, it had six floors, 150 rooms, and a central lobby two floors high, including a mezzanine and a balcony. In the 1950s, as more people came to own vehicles, the Hawthorne changed its name to the Hawthorne Motor Hotel.

To stay with the styles of the changing times, The Hawthorne modernized its look. During this period, the Hawthorne again underwent a name change – this time to the Hawthorne Inn. Finally, in 1989, it returned to the name Hawthorne Hotel and has remained so ever since.

With its ballroom ceiling reaching 18 feet and 10 inches, many functions are held here, including weddings. Featuring fine dining and beautiful ballrooms, the Hawthorne Hotel is one of Salem’s finest institutions. Continual upkeep and renovations have earned it a place on the list of Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The massive Hawthorne consists of 93 rooms and six suites, all beautifully decorated and furnished alongside fantastic architecture. Surrounding the hotel are buildings that were designed mainly by Salem sea captains. This group of individuals was known around old Salem for assisting elderly or handicapped people.

They comprised the Salem Marine Society that met and were stationed in a building where the Hawthorne now sits. Per their agreement with the hotel stated above, some believe the Society’s lost spirits now inhabit the hotel, still holding their meetings at the same location from long ago.

Hauntings at the Hawthorne Hotel

Bridget Bishop, the first woman executed during the trials for the practice of witchcraft, was said to have owned an apple orchard upon which this hotel was later built. Many guests maintain that they have encountered her very spirit within the hotel.

In front of the sixth floor’s room 612, the apparition of a woman is often seen standing still. From time to time, she will wander up and down the hallway where room 612 is located. In the room, guests have complained that they are not alone, as if someone else is sharing the room with them.

And inside room 325 on the third floor, there have been several reports of hearing an unseen baby crying, lights turning off and on, and even water faucets inexplicably actuating. Others have reported numerous unidentifiable sounds.

One particular employee refuses to work nights ever again. During his evening shift, after cleaning a room, he went to get supplies and returned to find the room’s entire configuration changed around.

Also, the hotel’s restaurant, The Tavern, has a ship’s wheel on display. Used in the steering of a seafaring vessel, this display will often turn back and forth, as if being controlled by one of Salem sea captains mentioned earlier.

Furthermore, visitors have reported experiencing odd sensations near these rooms and hearing ghostly voices. Some folks have detected the unexplained smell of apples, perhaps serving as verification that the Hawthorne was built over Bridget’s orchard.

Haunted Salem

So fabled is the Hawthorne’s haunted history that the SyFy Network’s television series Ghost Hunters visited the hotel in 2007 to film an investigation. And the hotel itself held a séance in 1990 to try and contact the spirit of legendary magician Harry Houdini.

Guests have continually reported furniture moving independently, strange sounds and smells, and ghostly sightings. The Hawthorne Hotel is often ranked as one of the most haunted hotels in America for a good reason.

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