By Thomas D’Agostino
The town of Salem, Massachusetts, is famous for the witch hysteria that took place there in 1692. Salem was also known as a major shipping port. It was the largest in the colonies for many years. Today people flock to Salem to see the attractions, and even more, to attend the annual “Haunted Happenings” that takes place during the month of October. Many of the attractions put on their best shine and ready themselves for the influx of guests. There are many places in Salem that do not have to prepare for the season, as every day is Halloween within their walls.
One such place is the Hawthorne Hotel next to the Salem Common. The Hotel was the brainchild of Frank Poor, who wished to have a major hostel in the downtown area. The Mariner’s Club of Salem was located in the spot chosen. The club was established in 1766 and the structure was designed to resemble the inside of a ship’s cabin. An agreement was reached where the hotel owners would build upward from the floor of the club, resulting in the small building being on the roof of the completed hotel. The club still sits on the roof to this day and the club members are the only ones who have keys to ride the special elevator that takes them to their secret lair.
The hotel opened on July 23, 1925, amidst a great fanfare. Since then many prominent people have lodged there. In 1970, the cast of Bewitched filmed several episodes in Salem and stayed at the hotel, using the building in some of the episodes. In 1990, a public séance was held to call the spirit of Harry Houdini. Although the event failed to contact the great magician, it did help to solidify the fact that hotel has several ghosts roaming within its walls.
Room 325 is one of the rooms that are of particular interest. People have heard the sound of a toddler crying in the room at all hours of the night and day. Some have heard the ethereal sound in the hall near the room. The sixth floor hosts the ghost of a woman who meanders slowly down the span, stopping in front of Room 612 before vanishing.
The rooms seem to have unseen guests that like to turn on faucets, open and close doors, and turn the televisions on. Another place of activity is the Library, or lower floor event room. This is where the original Mariner’s building sat. Staff has set up the room for an event only to return a few minutes later and see the tables and chairs thrown askew. One employee of the hotel will not set foot in that room under any circumstance. There is also the ghost of a woman seen entering the elevator but when it stops and opens, no one is on it.
Arlene and I took a trip out to Salem and were invited to investigate along with one of the staff members, June. When we entered Room 612, we immediately noticed the temperature was much colder than the rest of the hotel. My thermal scanner read 57 degrees while the rest of the hotel was between 66 and 70 degrees. Within a few minutes of investigating the room, the temperature suddenly shot up to 66 degrees. It was as if something was drawing the energy in the room in an attempt to manifest itself to us. We could feel the intense energy for several minutes while in that room.
We held several vigils; nothing in particular happened until June mentioned she got a name, Simon, while working the dowsing rods. When we later looked up the name, we found Simon Forrester was a member of the Mariners Club during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He owned property within the center of town and was married to Rachel Hathorne, the great-granddaughter of witch judge, John Hathorne.
This would explain why people have claimed to see the visages in old sea-faring clothing appearing in different places in the hotel. The ships wheel in the restaurant spins by itself and when stopped by human hands, it continues spinning as if some ethereal being is still at the helm.
The Hawthorne Hotel has been rated the fourth most haunted hotel in America by Travelocity and with good reason. Paranormal Luncheons will be held in July, August, September and October where guests can have a great buffet style luncheon and then break into groups to investigate the most haunted areas of the hotel. For more info, go to Eventbrite and type in diningwiththedeadsalem or just stay a night at the haunted hotel. There are plenty of rooms and it can be assured, if the ghosts like you, they will let you know.