Atlas of the Odd: The Bewitching History of the Hawthorne Hotel
"Where there's a witch, there's a way, you know." - Aunt Clara – Bewitched
Atlas of the Odd: The Bewitching History of the Hawthorne Hotel
Welcome to Atlas of the Odd! This is an October series focusing on haunted locations throughout New England that you can visit right now. They’re open to the public and have histories of happenings that will make your spooky season one to remember, so get out there and explore them! You never know what you might find!
Standing nice and stately at 10 Washington Square West in Salem, Massachusetts is the storied and illustrious Hawthorne Hotel. This imposing structure has been home to television studio sets, presidents, military dignitaries, and Bradly Cooper.
Even more impressive than the guy from the Hangover movies is the fact that it’s also been called the 4th most haunted hotel in America by Travelocity.
|If it comes from a gnome, then it has to be true.
This hotel has stood for over two centuries in the heart of Witch City. A place saturated with so much torture and misery has to bear the scars of metaphysical pain and there are more than enough people with stories to back it up. The Salem Witch Trials stand as a reminder of just how poorly one human being can treat another and the Hawthorne is said to manifest that negativity throughout its storied hallways.
Let’s get into it!
The Namesake of the Hawthorne
We can’t start talking about the haunted Hawthorne Hotel without talking about its namesake. That’s right; the Hawthorne Hotel was named after none other than… Mr. Franklin!
|“Was it me? Who knows, it was like, 200 years ago.”
Yes, the mainstay of Witch City was originally named “The Franklin.” It was constructed in 1809 by a feller named Samuel McIntire.
It all came about as a plan to create one building to host any purpose the Salemites (…Saleminians… Salemuns?) could come up with. It took one year to build and the result was a building that very closely resembled the one you see today.
The only real difference was the fact that it had a hip roof. Other than that, it was pretty much the same thing.
|One of these things.
It didn’t last Long
Anyway, that whole thing wouldn’t last very long. It was well-used for almost 40 years until a fire struck the building in 1845. It was repaired and enjoyed another 14 years of service until it… caught fire again. Oops.
The owners audibly sighed and simply went about repairing it again, never to have to deal with that kind of trouble ever again… at least until it caught fire a third freaking time!
|What is it with Salem and burning things?
This third fire was the last straw. The entire building burned to the ground in 1860 and that was it for a while. In fact, you can read what the Salem Register had to say about it at the time: “...an easterly gale was raging, and the fire progressed, in spite of all the efforts to save it, until the noble structure, which has been one of our institutions for about sixty years, and which extended from Essex to Forrester Streets, was a complete mess of ruins.” So, yeah.
There’s Always One
Naturally, there always has to be someone who has to be a pain. A few architects got together and decided to make everyone put in the work to reconstruct The Franklin in 1863. Another year later and the grand, sweeping building that you see today was fully constructed and ready to get haunted!
Birth of The Hawthorne
So what’s with the name change? Relax, I’m getting to it.
It was 1921 when the Salem rabble was roused. A bunch of Salemites (yes, it’s actually Salemites, I checked) got together and told the owners of the building that they needed something new! Just think about a bunch of rich people coming to your house to tell you that they need it to make themselves more money or they’ll just annoy you until you leave. That’s pretty much what happened.
Anyway, it worked and the building was transformed into a glorious hotel to drive the wealthiest of the wealthy to Salem to spend their money and “vacation.” Welcome to the world of gentrification!
What’s in a Name?
|Boom. Shakespeare reference. We're gettin' all kinds of literary up in this piece!
Naturally, a travel destination needs a good name and that’s when The Hawthorne truly became what it is today. This building was right near the birthplace of none other than Nathaniel Hawthorne! It only made sense to use the name of a world famous author from Salem as a way to draw in the rich person bucks. He may have had nothing to do with it, but that’s what happened. In fact, the guy was 60 years dead by the time he was used to sell hotel rooms. Now you know how Mr. Comfort Inn feels.
The Man, The Myth, and the Curmudgeon
|"I'm pretty much the last person that Salem should want to associate itself with, but whatevs."
Now, I really want to get to the good stuff here, so I’m not going to go crazy on Nathaniel Hawthorne, even though I want to. He was an extremely fascinating guy and one of the most popular authors in the history of humanity.
|Remember this from high school?
He was born in Witch City and absolutely hated it. He used to call his home “Castle Dismal.” He then moved to Concord to live in some sort of a hippy commune for both creatives and people who just didn’t like "The Man." He rubbed elbows with other famous writers like Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and hated it.
He once said of these self-important philosophers: “Never was a poor little country village infested with such a variety of queer, strangely dressed, oddly behaved mortals, most of whom took themselves to be important agents of the world’s destiny yet were simply bores of a very intense character.” which was a pretty sick 1800s burn!
Oh, and he may have also been a swinger.
Anyway, the ghosts are waiting, so I’m going to write a full post on Nathaniel Hawthorne for Patreon! If you want to learn more about a guy who dated two women at the same time, only to flip them both off and marry one of the girl's younger sisters, then all it takes is $3 a month to join. You’ll get exclusive posts that you won’t be able to find anywhere else, but most importantly, you’ll find out if his younger wife was also a secret bisexual! Who could resist that?
Okay, so now the hotel is up and running and has a cool name to draw in that sweet, sweet cash! It would have to play host to some very specific people to gain the popularity that put in on the national stage. Do you recognize this statue?
|"PLEASE stop your drunk teenagers from feeling me up this Halloween!"
That’s the Bewitched statue featuring none other than Elizabeth Montgomery.
|Come on, do that thing with your nose from TV! Do it!
Yeah, so one of the most famous TV shows ever, Bewitched, used the Hawthorne Hotel as a filming location. It really only stands to reason that a show about witches would end up in the Witch City at some point. That’s why the statue is there and that’s why so many people know the name of the hotel.
|This, by the way, is exactly what real witches looked like, and was in no way simply inspired by the fantasies of literally everyone who ever watched the show.
The cast and crew stayed at the hotel and the series only served to feed into Salem’s reputation. Some people like to embrace it while others try to forget about it. Either way, you can’t ignore the fact that a haunted hotel is exactly what you would expect to find in a place called Witch City.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the hauntings!
Bridget Bishop has the unfortunate honor of being the very first person to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials. She was the person accused of bewitching Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard.
Was Bridget Bishop really a devil worshiping witch? No, of course not, what’s wrong with you?
She did, however, have something that may have looked like a third nipple and that was more than enough reason to hang her, at least according to Cotton Mather.
That makes sense.
Anyway, Bridget Bishop was also said to own an apple orchid
on the land that would become home to the Hawthorne Hotel. Her uneasy spirit
now wanders the hallways of the hotel. Hopefully she eventually finds a lawyer to get her out of that whole legally dubious Salem Witch Trials ho-hum.
Room 610 of the hotel is said to be home to loud bangs in the middle of the night. Patrons are woken up in the middle of the night with no explanation of the sounds.
Here’s a firsthand account: “We did experience something odd immediately after turning off the lights around 11:00 p.m. There was a VERY loud sound in the room which made both of us sit straight up in bed. We thought someone had opened up the door, but no one was there. The door was closed and no one was in the hallway. We looked around the room to see if something had fallen, but nothing had. The only way we could recreate the sound was by swinging the metal safety lock open really hard against the door frame (the kind that hotels use now in place of the chain locks). It kind of freaked me out, but I didn't feel threatened. I guess they just wanted to get our attention??!”
Right next door is room 612. This one is said to have one of the most torturous hauntings the world has ever seen: Spotty Internet! Connections go in and out and there’s never any reason for it at all!
It has the full haunting spectrum of cold spots, odd smells, opening and closing doors, and malfunctioning elevators. There’s also an apparition walking the hallways just for fun.
In fact, you know what? Here’s a video from 2010. This lovely woman is going to take you on a tour of the room and tell you all of the things that make give her an uneasy feeling:
Here’s an EVP from that very same room:
Next up is room 325. This one is known for disembodied voices and more bangs. Here’s a nice EVP to get things started:
In fact, let’s just stick with this recorded evidence for a minute. Here’s another EVP from 2017:
Here’s a ghost hunting crew experiencing odd sounds
Here’s a whole ghost hunting session with plenty of unexplained bangs, noises, and an app that records… ghost stuff? I don’t know, but it’s fun:
Is the Hawthorne Hotel Haunted?
So, is the Hawthorne Hotel, one of the most famous haunted hotels in the country, actually haunted? Well, I don’t know. I mean, I have some ideas, but this is the Atlas of the Odd! You’re supposed to check these places out for yourself and explore!
The question is really whether or not you think it's haunted. Do you think there are hauntings at the Hawthorn Hotel? Have you experienced anything there? Why don't you let us know in the comments? No one ever uses those things and they're just sitting there waiting to devour all of your delicious thoughts and stories!
I will say that the apple orchid that’s supposed to keep
Bridget Bishop tied to the location probably wasn’t actually there. She most
likely maintained it on a total different property. There were also very few, if
any, deaths on the property, even during the Salem Witch Trials.
Still, there were all those fires back when it was the
Franklin. The entirety of Salem and Danvers was a location of strife, misery,
and murder. If there’s one spot with the convergence of enough negative energy
to make a building haunted, this is it: home of the Salem Witch Trials.
The history of the area is drenched in blood and terror. Twenty people were hanged or pressed to death during the Salem Witch Trials and that has to stand for something.
Maybe it’s possible that the ground a building is built on is enough to make a place haunted. Maybe, just like Aunt Clara said, if there's a witch, there really is a way.
One thing is for absolute certain, though: if the people responsible for torturing accused witches to death back in the 17th century put half as much effort into considering actual evidence as these ghost hunters are spending trying to record it, Salem would have just been another nice coastal city with a boring history.
Oh, and Samantha Stephens was a WILF!
Thanks for Reading
Hey, thanks for reading! These Atlas of the Odd things are brand new and I hope you like them! If you did, please consider liking the Facebook page here and following the Slightly Odd Fitchburg below! If you really, REALLY liked it, please consider joining us on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive posts that no one else can read, as well as tons of sweet swag! Other than that, we’ll dig into some more odd and haunted history next time!
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|Seriously, it really does help.