Is The Salem Hawthorne Hotel Haunted?
Is The Salem Hawthorne Hotel Really Haunted?
There are many good things about the Hawthorne Hotel and many reasons to choose it when you want a hotel in Salem, Massachusetts, but are ghosts one of them?
(There are officially 7 haunted hotels in Salem, including the Hawthorne and the Salem Inn.)
I am presuming that you must be partly interesting in staying in a haunted hotel to be reading this, and that is probably because you want to see a ghost. So will you see a ghost at the Hawthorne Hotel?
We will consider the evidence below, but even if you don’t see a ghost, the luxury, the setting, the history and the quality of service are good enough reasons to book there anyway, perhaps.
About The Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA 01970, USA
The Hawthorne is a historic three-star hotel located in the middle of Salem, Massachusetts. It currently has 93 guest rooms, though it was built with 150.
In 2007, Travelocity cemented the Hawthorne’s reputation as the fourth most haunted hotel in America.
When you go down the hallway to the hotel rooms, you’ll find beautiful, cosy rooms that still look and feel like they did when they were built.
Depending on the room’s features, you could expect to pay between $200 and $300 for a double room. The hotel’s namesake is the well-known American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The Hawthorne Hotel keeps as much of its past as possible. This gives guests the most historically rich experiences possible.
At breakfast and dinner, visitors can eat at Nathaniel’s Restaurant, which is part of the hotel. The hotel’s other restaurant is Tavern on the Green, which serves a variety of pub-style New England food.
Sit back and relax while you eat next to the fireplace and wood panels in a style that’s true to history.
Historic Hotels of America
The National Trust for Historic Preservation started its programme in 1989 with 32 charter members. The programme accepts nominations and finds hotels that have kept their originality, sense of place, and architectural integrity. In 2015, over 260 member hotels from 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, were part of the programme.
In 2022, 273 hotels are part of the programme. They are not all haunted hotels!
The History of The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem
The first owner and occupier of the Hawthorne Site was the Salem Marine Society from 1776. They built the first Franklin Building there as a refuge for sailors in need of help.
The former Franklin was located right in the middle of Salem’s growing downtown area. It had shops, offices for local businesses, and luxury apartments for people who were rich enough to pay for them.
The Franklin Building sat on the site of the Hawthorne Hotel in the middle of Salem from 1809 until it caught fire for the third time and burned down in 1860.
The present Hawthorne building dates back to 1925. It has been a member of the Historic Hotels of America since 1991.
The Hawthorne was built by the local business community and the Salem Rotary Club to provide ‘Salem’s Own Hotel’ that would meet their needs and the needs of visitors. They formed the Salem Hotel Company and raised $500,000 to build the hotel.
Interestingly, the Salem Marine Society allowed the Hawthorne to be built on the site of the burned-out Franklin Building on the condition that they were allowed an office on the top floor and this office had to be an accurate replica of the cabin of their vessel the Taria Topan.
You may guess that the hotel is named after famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne who was born and grew up in Salem in a house on a street near the hotel.
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many famous stories, including Young Goodman Brown about dealings with the devil in old New England.
You will find the Hawthorne Hotel at the intersection of Hawthorne Boulevard and Washington Square West, next to the green park of the Salem Common.
A statue of the hotel’s namesake, Nathaniel Hawthorne stands nearby.
When the Hawthorne opened in 1925, it boasted 150 guestrooms and a two-story lobby with a balcony and a mezzanine.
In the 1950s, the Hawthorne was visited by movies stars such as Bette Davis, Vanessa Redgrave and Johnny Cash. Later, Robert De Niro, General Colin Powell and president George H W Bush and Bill Clinton all stayed at the Hawthorne.
In 1964, the Hawthorne rose to fame when it became the filming location for the hit series Bewitched, and the place the stars stayed.
Bewitched ran from 1964 to 1972 and was remade as a movie in 2005.
Bewitched is about a real-life witch with magic powers married to a mortal man. The comedy is in how the magic world gets along with the everyday world of the 1960s.
The series was a massive success, not so much the 2005 movie which only gets 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hawthorne’s role was as setting and accommodation for the series.
Salem has a mixed history with witches. From the infamous Salem Trials in the 1600s, to the countless occult gift shops and branding today, and the interesting Salem Witch Museum, many residents did not welcome Bewitched, despite the tourist draw it produced.
In Episode 18, Season 3 of the Syfy Channel series Ghost Hunters, the Ghost Hunters investigate the Lyceum Restaurant at the hotel.
There, they look into the Lyceum Bar and Grill, which is built on land that used to belong to Bridget Bishop who was hanged in the infamous Salem Trials.
They found little paranormal activity at the hotel.
The Spirits of The Haunted Hawthorne Hotel
In a statement in 2011, the manager said,
“People tell us they feel things, whatever, but we don’t have any documentation.”
Yet, past guests have seen or heard things that can’t be explained, like hearing babies crying, glimpsing spirits, and mysterious mists.
People say that Room 325 is the most haunted in the hotel.
There have been reports of unexplained hands pulling on the sheets in the wee small hours, and there have even been times when guests say they felt those ghostly hands touch their hair or hands as they slept.
Visitors report a ghostly woman being seen in Room 612 and on outside on the sixth floor hall.
People who stay in Room 612 often say that a ghostly woman walks around and looks at herself in the mirror.
Bridget Bishop was the first woman put to death during the witch trials. She ran two inns in Salem. She was accused of bewitching five people in the town. Even Bishop’s own husband said she praised Satan.
Of course that doesn’t mean she did. The accusations were famously hysterical and ill-founded, as sensible people at the time said. But sensible people weren’t listened to. Go figure.
It is said that she owned an apple orchard on the land where this hotel was built. Other people argue that her orchard was where the Lyceum Restaurant is.
Many people who have stayed at the hotel reported that they have seen Bridget Bishop’s spirit there.
Interestingly, a travel blogger called Kim wrote about her family’s stay at the Hawthorne in 2019. She has some photos of the Hawthorne that show what it’s like inside from a guest’s point of view — pretty nice, actually.
The family got pictures of orbs around the hotel, and a closet apparently closed on its own. Kim also mentions the smell of apples lingering in the hallway. I’m not clear if she knew about the story of the apple orchard before she wrote the blog piece.
One particular employee refuses to work overnight ever again. During his evening shift, after cleaning a suite he went to get supplies and returned to find the room’s entire configuration changed around.
Also in the hotel’s restaurant, The Tavern, is 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.
Local Author Sam Baltrusis wrote about the Hawthorne Hotel in his book ‘Wicked Salem‘. He says about the Hawthorne:
“It’s possible that the psychic imprint from the cursed land’s past may have caused what parapsychologists call an aura of disaster—fertile ground for the birthing of ghosts. According to several accounts over the years, the Hawthorne Hotel does indeed have a storied history of alleged paranormal activity.”
The Salem Marine Society still has its office at the top of the building.
Employees of the Salem Marine Society have reported that they have seen the ship’s helm turn on the top floor.
Some people on the top floor have left and come back the next morning to find things that are usually locked up strewn all over the place.
The things that get lost most often are old maps, charts, and other things.
Are the spirits of old sailors looking to navigate their way out of the afterlife?
Guests report they have heard water taps turn on and off and toilets flush on their own. One of the hotel guests woke up to find her son cowering. When she asked him what was wrong, he said he had heard the voice of a child crying from somewhere else.
Conclusion: Is The Hawthorne Hotel Haunted?
Historic Ghost Stories
First, we have the historical link to Bridget Bishop, originally from Norwich in England, who was executed in Salem in 1692.
The aroma of apples has been linked to her orchard, which some say was where the hotel is now, and some say is where the Lyceum Restaurant stands about half a mile away.
Still, people have very recently noted the smell of apples in the hotel.
Then we have stories, particularly linked to Rooms 325 and 612 about ghostly ladies, sheets being tugged, crying babies, mists forming, orbs darting about.
What about modern stories from named guests?
There is Kim’s blog from 2019 which reports mild paranormal events, but isn’t convinced they were.
There is a Trip Advisor review where the guest is sure that they were in a haunted room. This visit was from 2016.
“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.”
In mid 2022, Matt from Nightmare365 channel spent a 3 night visit at the Hawthorne with a girlfriend. Nothing happened the first night. The second night, they were asleep, but his girlfriend woke up and asked him,
‘Did you hear that?’
At first, he didn’t, then he reports hearing the unexplained snapping of fingers, as if someone was walking round the bed. But there was no one to be seen. It got louder and louder and then, they felt someone sit down at the end of the bed. The girl freaked out and didn’t want to stay there for the third night.
But they stayed, because they’d paid! And nothing more happened.
So it is haunted?
On balance, I believe the Hawthorne Hotel is haunted. I think there is the spirit of a woman on the 6th floor, among others. There, I said it.
But the Hawthorne is a rather grand, elegant hotel with real old-world charm in the heart of Salem.
So, whether or not you see a ghost, it’s probably still worth a stay.