Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kalmar Nyckel is in port

The Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of a 1638 colonial ship that first voyaged to the New World in 1638, is in port in Salem! She is berthed at Central Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site for the weekend. She will be open to the public for tours on Saturday, August 1st.

The Kalmar Nyckel brought 24 settlers of Swedish, Finnish, German and Dutch descent to establish the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. She made a total of four round trip crossings of the Atlantic - more than any other ship of that era.

For more information on the Kalmar Nyckel, visit more information on the Salem Maritime Festival - "Free family fun featuring ships, sawdust, sailors and song" - visit

I took these pictures of the Kalmar Nyckel
on Thursday afternoon.

North Shore Wine Tour at Sixty2 on Wharf

On Sunday, August 23rd, Sixty2 on Wharf is teaming up with Natasha Bansfield Events to bring you an Italian wine dinner. This dinner will be a part of the Northshore Wine Tour, which features 3 dinners in the region.

Sixty2 on Wharf will be the first dinner in the series and we're lucky enough to have Eric Olsen from Salem Wine Imports to moderate and describe all of the night's wine selections.

The menu for that evening, is of course, subject to slight change:

Red snapper crudo with shaved fennel, citrus oil and sea salt

Fiore di Zucca
Fried zucchini blossoms, stuffed with whole milk ricotta with a roasted grape tomato vinaigrette

Hand-rolled garganelli with white wine braised rabbit, rosemary and picholine olives

Thyme-smoked duck breast, roasted sweet corn, cippoline onions and fregola with a pomegranate vinaigrette

Summer peaches in a red wine syrup and biscotti

Tickets can only be purchased through Natasha Bansfield Events (not through Sixty2 on Wharf or Salem Wine Imports) and they are sure to go fast, so order yours today!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Salem Heritage Trail - Part 2 of 2

After satiating our hunger with hot dogs, my 8-year-old companion and I set out to continue exploring the Salem Heritage Trail, AKA "The Red Line."

We left you on Washington Street at the corner of Lynde Street. Facing east, the MBTA Commuter Rail Station is a few steps north of our lunch stop, and while the Heritage Trail goes to the train station we will not. Instead we head south along Washington Street, passing Salem City Hall, which was built in 1836-37.

To avoid retracing our steps up the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, we continue down Washington Street (Occasionally referred to as "Eat Street," Washington Street is home to more than a dozen restaurants that offer a wide range of fare from around the world.) and we turn onto Front Street, passing the Old Town Hall where Cry Innocent is performed and the Salem Farmer's Market offers local foods and crafts on Thursday afternoons.

Front Street turns into Charter Street and heads up hill toward the Old Burying Point Cemetery. We spend some time wandering through the cemetery, looking at gravestones and trying to read the stones that have been worn away by time and weather.

I wanted to find the grave stone for Samuel McIntire, Salem's famous architect and wood carver, because it is not cited on the sign and most people don't realize that this beloved son of Salem is buried in the Charter Street Cemetery. Using the map of notable stones, we wind our way through the cemetery and find Mr. McIntire's grave site.

Adjacent to the cemetery is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Dedicated by Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel in 1992 to commemorate the tercentenary of the Witch Trials, the memorial is a start reminder of the tragic Salem Witch Trials. Nineteen innocent people were hanged and one man pressed to death during the Witch Trials of 1692.

We do not know for sure where the hangings happened. The memorial, which is on the Liberty Street pedestrian way between Charter and Derby Streets, is the most appropriate place to remember the victims and consider the lessons of tolerance learned from the Salem Witch Trials.

When you visit the memorial, note the twenty benches that extend from the walls. Each bench is inscribed with the name of one of the condemned, the method and date of their execution. The trees in the center of the memorial were chosen because they are the last to flower in the spring and the first to shed their leaves in the fall. Upon the memorial's threshold you will read the words of the condemned, which are carved into stones that run under the walls of the memorial, symbolizing the accused words falling on deaf ears. Often you will see candles or flowers laid on the benches to remember the victims.

Truth be told, the lessons of 1692 are somewhat difficult to convey to my 8-year-old son, so I explain the history, he takes pictures, and we move along down Charter Street toward Pickering Wharf.

We are following the Heritage Trail (Red Line), so we loop through Pickering Wharf and do some window shopping. I'm checking out menus in the windows of the restaurants, pondering our next meal, and he is concentrating on the shops and the boats docked in the marina.

You will find a bit of everything at Pickering Wharf, from pet boutiques to ladies' accessories, Witch shops to beauty salons, creative cuisine to an all-you-can-eat salad bar. And lobster rolls. There are many great lobster rolls to choose from on Pickering Wharf!

I always think "The Salem Frigate" plaque would be a perfect addition to any scavenger hunt, because I don't think anyone knows it exists. This plaque is on Pickering Wharf, facing the water, so to see it you need to walk along the fence between Capt.'s and Victoria Station.

The plaque reads:

On 23 October 1798 prominent citizens of Salem who had subscribed to build a ship for the service of the United States voted “to build a frigate of 32 guns and to loan the same to the government.” The Essex was constructed and equipped at winter Island about a mile from this site. “To oppose French insolence and piracy.” Her keel was laid in April 1799: She was launched 30 September and sailed from Salem 22 December 1799 under Captain Edward Preble. Essex did outstanding service in the naval war with France and the Barbary Wars. Her last cruise under Captain David Porter in the War of 1812 was epic in naval history. Essex swept the pacific clear of British whalers and provoked a British squadron to seek her out while disabled in the neutral port of Valparaiso, Chile on 28 March 1814. Essex was attacked and forced to surrender after a valiant 3-hour battle.

The proud name and heritage of the Frigate Essex were carried on by the aircraft carrier USS Essex, first of 24 Essex-class ships commissioned 31 December 1942. She bore the name nobly for more than 26 years of an illustrious career.

Dedicated 20 June 1979.

Salem's history just keeps going and going and going... and so do we. As we leave Pickering Wharf, we round the corner of Derby Street to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site Orientation Center.

We step into the Orientation Center and watch the free 19-minute film, "To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East." The film presents Salem's fascinating maritime heritage, giving context to the wharves and buildings preserved by the National Park Service.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site includes Derby Wharf, Derby Light, the tall ship Friendship of Salem, historic buildings including the Custom House, Derby House, and Narbonne House, and the West India Goods Store (note: this is a great spot to buy spices!)

The Heritage Trail continues down Derby Street to The House of the Seven Gables, and on to the Salem Ferry landing at Blaney Street. We stop at Ye Olde Pepper Companie for some energy in the form of malt balls and Swedish Fish. Ye Olde Pepper Companie is most noted for its Gibralters and Blackjacks, however, which were two of the first commercially produced candies in America.

Bags of candy in hand, it is time to double back up Derby Street to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where we cut through on the path between Derby House and the Hawkes House up to Essex Street and on to Salem Common.

Salem Common has been public grazing land since the 17th century. In the 18th century it was used as a training ground for the militia. Today it's a great spot for picnics, bike riding, dog walking, and relaxing.
We reach the end of our adventure at the statue of Roger Conant on the northwest corner of Salem Common. This statue was erected to recognize Roger Conant, who founded Salem in 1626 for the English Dorchester Company. Salem was known as Naumkeag ("fishing place") then, and was renamed Salem (from the Hebrew word for peace) in 1629.

We had a great time exploring Salem's Heritage Trail. It runs in three loops through the city, passing most of the historic sites, museums and attractions, and past many of Salem's hotels, inns, and B&Bs. We did not wander off the trail other than food and the film at the Salem Maritime Site, and our walk took about 2.5 hours and we spent less than $20 on lunch and candy.

There is so much to Salem's history. The Heritage Trail lets you explore it independently and at your own pace. Travel from 1626 to 2009 New England - just follow the red line!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Salem Maritime Festival, Salem Heritage Days Start this Weekend

Mark - or should I say, clear - your calendars because Salem Heritage Days start this weekend! The complete schedule of events for Heritage Days can be found on and

Good news for shoppers! In hopes you will be encouraged to spend a little longer in Salem, the City is giving you more time in the parking garages and Church Street lot! One-hour validation stamps will be worth double in the Church Street Parking Lot, Museum Place Garage, and South Harbor Garage, so you can spend a bit longer enjoying downtown. Many retailers and restaurants offer validation stamps, so make sure to inquire when you are making purchases.

If you forget to get a validation ticket, parking in these three locations is $1.50 per hour.

The Salem Maritime Festival kicks off Heritage Days this weekend with free family fun on July 31 and August 1 at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. On Friday night, there will be a free concert featuring Entrain at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. On Saturday the park will feature free events, crafts and trades demonstrations, and activities for families.
Our tall ship Friendship is out of port for some renovation work, but we will be visited by the Kalmar Nyckel from Delaware. The Kalmar Nyckel will be docked on Central Wharf this weekend, and she will be open for tours on August 1. Kalmar Nyckel was one of America's pioneering colonial ships, whose historical significance rivals that of the Mayflower, though never been widely told. Her first voyage to the New World in 1638 World brought 24 settlers of Swedish, Finnish, German and Dutch descent to establish the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. She made a total of four round trip crossings of the Atlantic-more than any other ship of the era. The replica of the Dutch-built pinnace has been sailing since 1998 as a goodwill ambassador and educational outreach for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and the State of Delaware.

And that's just the beginning! Heritage Days is 10 days of music, food, street fairs, special events, and fun. Hope you can join us!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Salem Heritage Trail - Part 1 of 2

Earlier this summer, my eight-year-old son and I set out to walk the Salem Heritage Trail. This is the red line that is painted on the sidewalks of Salem. It extends from the MBTA Commuter Rail station (30 minutes from Boston on the Newburyport/Rockport lines) to the Salem Ferry dock on Blaney Street, and it makes three loops in between.

We started at the Salem Visitor Center at 11:00 AM on a nice Friday, camera in hand. All things in Salem start at the visitor center - located at 2 New Liberty Street, it is across the street from the Museum Place Garage, has (clean!) rest rooms, lots of visitor information on Salem and the entire Essex National Heritage Area, or North of Boston region, informative ranges who can answer just about any question, and a free 27-minute film called "Where Past is Present" that I highly recommend watching for two reasons: 1) it will give you a great overview of Salem and the region's history, 2) it is extremely well done. And it appeals to all ages.

From the Visitor Center, we headed west on Essex Street, passing the Peabody Essex Museum. The PEM is the oldest continually operated museum in the country, and it has exceptional collections that include Asian Export Art, Maritime Art, Native American Art, Yin Yu Tang, a Chinese House, which was moved piece-by-piece from China and rebuilt in Salem (and is today the only example of 18th Century Chinese architecture in America), and incredible changing exhibits and programming.
As the PEM's first building, The East India Museum Hall (pictured) was where Salem sea captains and merchants would display the curiosities they brought back from around the globe. Today it is part gallery and part function hall, and it was used for the opening wedding scene in the 2009 film Bridewars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway.

We continued down Essex Street, past boutiques, shops, cafes and the Witch History Museum. People were dining outside, and a few shops have water bowls for thirsty dogs out. At the corner of Essex and Washington Streets, on the former Daniel Low Building, which today is Rockafellas (restaurant), is a plaque that notes the building as the site of Salem's first Town Hall and the location where, in 1774, delegates for the first Continental Congress were chosen.

Turning from American history to whimsy, across the intersection is the statue of Samantha from the Bewitched series, which filmed the Salem episodes in Salem in the early 1970s. There is a small exhibit about the series' visit to Salem in the lobby of the Hawthorne Hotel. The statue was erected in Salem by TV Land in 2005, and today I suspect Samantha's statue is one of the most photographed objects in Salem!

Continuing down Essex Street we pass more restaurants and shops before reaching the intersection of Essex and Summer Streets, which has a lot going on! On the north side of Essex is the Witch House, or Corwin House. The house is the only building still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It was the home of Judge Jonathon Corwin, who was one of the magistrates who presided over the trials.

Across the street on the south side of Essex Street is a monument and flag (of course!) remembering Salem Captain William Driver who was the first to name the American flag "Old Glory." That flag, which was given to Driver by his mother as he departed on a trip, is part of the Smithsonian's collection.

Adjacent to the Driver memorial is the entry plaque to the Samuel McIntire District. This is an amazing district of Federal Style Architecture. Salem has the largest collection of Federal era architecture in the world, and it is concentrated on Essex, Chestnut, and Federal Streets - as well as around Salem Common (Heritage Trail, Part 2). There is a self-guided tour brochure of the McIntire District available at the visitor center. You can do it without the brochure though - just follow the plaques with the sheaves of wheat that are installed in the sidewalks, and make sure to read the house plaques so you know when and for whom each house was built.

Back on the North side of Essex Street, we passed the First Church in Salem, which was the parish of many of the accused during the Salem Witch Trials. This church is stunning with Tiffany windows and Gothic architecture, and it made an appearance in the 2008 novel The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry.

Next door to the First Church is the Ropes Mansion, which is part of the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. The mansion is not open to the public, but its stunning gardens are. We strolled through the gardens and took more pictures than this post will allow, noting the different flowers and plants, and walking along the paths. There are benches in the Ropes Garden, making it a lovely place to relax with a book or the daily paper.

"Hours fly, flowers bloom and die, Old days old ways pass by, Love stays" - wisdom spoken by the sundial in the Ropes Mansion.

We circle back now, and walking north a block, we cross back on Lynde Street, passing the Witch Dungeon Museum, and the Witches Cottage at the Griffen Theatre. The Witch Dungeon has the following sign from the original Witch Gaol, which was located just east of where the Witch Dungeon Museum is located.

I was advised by my companion that it was certainly lunch time, so we followed the Heritage Trail around the corner, passing Ben & Jerrie's, to Boston Hot Dog where we indulged in our regular: "Kid's dog with ketchup and California dog."

Boston Hot Dog on Washington Street is just a few steps from the MBTA Station. After lunch, we will head down Washington Street, to the Salem Common and the waterfront.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Now Playing: Away We Go (R); Bruno (R); Outrage (NR): and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!

I love the CinemaSalem e-news updates. The weather has some rain in it (again), so plan your escape to CinemaSalem and it's fresh popcorn with real butter. (And then make it a real date by adding dinner and/or drinks at one of the nearby restaurants!)

Tidbit #1: If you come to see Big Man Japan today or tomorrow, for goodness sake, stay through the final credits!

Tidbit #2: Last week's Harry Potter 6 midnight premiere completely sold out two theaters by 10:30 pm. For the several hundred whom we had to turn away, we're working on a three-screen interlock for next year's HP7a.

Tidbit #3: We had a ton of people coming to our weekly LOST parties last winter and spring, where we projected the mythic TV show for free on our big screen. Theories were discussed, friendships formed, community built, and popcorn sold. We'll be doing the same thing this coming winter when the final season unfolds, but we had a question for you: what other shows would you shuffle out of the comfort of your home to see on the big screen with a bunch of like-minded geniuses such as yourself? Glee? Friday Night Lights (on DirecTV before they go to NBC)? The Office/30 Rock? Desperate Housewives? The only technical requirement is that they be on weekday evenings and start at 9pm or later. Indicate your preference by replying to this email, and we'll count up the results and report back soon.

Tidbit #4: Last week's Discount Variety was one of the best yet, with a totally improvised, hilarious monologue about intercultural relationships by the comedienne and an awesome, courageous set of extraordinary music by someone who will soon be compared to Kate Bush. We hope to put some of it up online so you can catch it. In the meantime, mark August 20 on your calendars for the next Discount Variety show in the Café.

Tidbit #5: Away We Go (R) has been called " one of the best films about love I've ever seen" by the film critic at the Kansas City Star, who must have seen loads of movies. The Oregonian writes: "Away We Go is offbeat enough to feel like a breakthrough indie but familiar and warm enough to serve as a thinking person's romantic comedy."

Away We Go will screen Friday and Saturday at (12:00), (2:10), (4:20), 7:10 and 9:20; and Sunday-Thursday at (12:00), (2:10), (4:20) and 7:10.

Tidbit #6: Bruno (R) arrives at CinemaSalem with Sasha Baron Cohen's typical understated subtlety and a 69% positive rating at This is London loves it and also finds it important: "Brüno is a brave and necessary comedy. The film will appear to be a succès de scandale, and will outrage many people, but it is actually just a success, a film with an instinct for naming and shaming a host of overprotected wrongs. Go and see it."

Bruno will screen on Friday and Saturday at (12:30), (2:30), (5:00), 7:30 and 9:40; and Sunday-Thursday at (12:30), (2:30), (5:00) and 7:30.

Tidbit #7: In the Screening Room this week is Outrage (NR), which the New York Times calls an "indignant and methodical documentary which offers a lot of insight into the ideology and psychology of present-day political homophobia." The Philadelphia Inquirer was similarly impressed: "Despite its title, Outrage is calm, riveting, and provocative, taking pride in officials who come out and and taking aim at those who remain closeted," while the Hollywood Reporter submits "Audiences, regardless of their politics, will find Kirby Dick's film entertaining, brisk, visually interesting and perhaps even thrilling."

Outrage will play on Friday and Saturday at (11:45 AM), (1:45), (4:00), 7:00 and 9:00; and Sunday-Thursday at (11:45 AM), (1:45), (4:00) and 7:00.

Tidbit #8: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the best movie of the series, in the humble opinion of this scribe, yet remains accessible and engaging for people who haven't experienced the books or movies. The Los Angeles Times writes, "The Potter pictures have become the modern exemplars of establishment moviemaking," while across the pond, the Globe and Mail pens: "The experienced team behind the Harry Potter movie series is comfortably in the groove with the sixth film, which plays down the fantastic elements and introduces contrasting playful teenaged romance and a new tone of adult gloominess."

HP6 will play Friday and Saturday at (11:30 AM), (3:00), 6:45; and 10:00; and then Sunday-Thursday at (11:30 AM), (3:00) and 6:45.

Tidbit #9: One of the most exciting days of the year in Salem will occur on August 12. Why? Because that's the day of the Witches Cup Bike Race around the Salem Common. If you haven't seen this sort of race, it's truly exhilarating. The Witches Cup is a criterium -- a short fast bicycle race requiring a mix of power, speed and technical skills. Those skills include the ability to corner rapidly and sharply, all while riding safely with a large group on a short circuit, requiring exceptional fitness to outflank other riders and repeatedly accelerate around corners. These races are 45-60 minutes of very fast cycling, with racers averaging 25-35 mph and reaching speeds of up to 45 mph during sprints and attacks.

There will be less-intense, but just as fun racing starting at 4 pm, with the professional Witches Cup commencing at 6:45.

In conjunction with this great event, SunlightSolar is sponsoring a FREE showing of the cycling classic film, Breaking Away, on the big screens of CinemaSalem on August 12 at 10 am. Watching this great movie about youth, dreams, and cycling will get you in the mood for the races later in the afternoon.

So mark your calendars for a great day of racing on August 12.

Tidbit #10: Thanks for supporting CinemaSalem!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Friendship will be away from port for two more months...

This information came out on Friday. We hope repairs move swiftly and that Friendship will be home in Salem soon.

If you are planning to come to the Salem Maritime Festival on July 31-August, 1, the Kalmar Nyckel will be in port and tours of the visiting vessel will be available. Click here for more information on the Salem Maritime Festival.

Here's the information on Tall Ship Friendship:

Salem Maritime National Historic Site today announced that the tall ship Friendship of Salem will not be at the Salem Maritime Festival, July 31-Aug 1, or making her much-anticipated trip to Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming, August 13-16. “We are very disappointed that Friendship has not been able to sail this summer, as we had planned one of our most exciting sailing seasons so far,” said Salem Maritime Superintendent Patricia Trap. “However, ensuring the safety of the ship, her crew, and the visitors we hope to welcome aboard as passengers in the near future is our top priority. We want Friendship to be afloat at Derby Wharf and sailing as an ambassador for the National Park Service, the Essex National Heritage Area, and the City of Salem for years to come.”

Friendship traveled up to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in early June to be hauled out for routine inspection and maintenance. Close inspection discovered rot in the bow of the ship that will necessitate extensive repairs. “Rot prevention and removal is a constant process on a wooden vessel.” said National Park Service rigger Jeremy Bumagin, who is the chief mate for the vessel, “and to this end, when the ship is in port you will see our carpenter John Pyndynkowski and our dedicated volunteers replacing weakened wood and making sure that the exposed wood is painted, sealed or oiled to minimize water infiltration. But in this instance, we had more water infiltration than we anticipated.”

Repairs are currently anticipated to take another two months, although the final schedule has not yet been determined. It is hoped that Friendship will be back at Derby Wharf in September. For updates on the ship’s status, please visit the “Friendship Sailing Schedule” page on Salem Maritime’s web site,

NPS Photo: Friendship in dry dock, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, June 2009.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Destination Salem's First Annual Photography Contest!

I'm excited to announce the first annual Destination Salem photography contest! What image do you think should be on the cover of the 2010 Salem Visitor Guide? We print nearly 300,000 visitor guides, and send them out internationally - so think about it. What is the image that best represents Salem, Massachusetts to the world?

For complete rules, regulations, and details on the contest, click through to or Click here for complete contest details and a submission form.

Here's the theme: Discover the Magic of Salem!

What does that phrase mean to you? Capture the magic of Salem, Massachusetts in your image – be it history, maritime, architecture, dining, shopping, a statue, a cemetery, the harbor, a museum. Show us the magic in your Salem, and it could win you a great prize!

Fabulous Prizes

  • First Prize: $100 and the image will be featured on the cover of the 2010 Salem, MA Visitor & Travel Guide!
  • Second Prize: $50 Salem Gift Certificate
  • Third Prize: $25 Salem Gift Certificate

Submission Information

  1. The deadline for submission is December 1, 2009.
  2. Images should be submitted in a high-resolution (at least 300 dpi) digital format.
  3. Photographs must be submitted in .jpeg, .jpg or .tif format via email to or on disc to Destination Salem, PO Box 630, Salem, MA 01970.
  4. High resolution scans of photographs are acceptable.
  5. Each photograph must be accompanied by a submission form (Download form).
  6. Winners will be announced on December 18th, 2009 on
(By the way - these photos were taken by a professional! (c) Leighton O'Connor)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Salem Farmer's Market Today and Every Thursday

Fruits, vegetables, plants and more…

This week at the Salem Farmers’ Market you will find great produce (last week there was Connecticut corn, tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, herbs, squash, and more!), seafood (inclding lobster!!), plants, soap, art work and bread.

You can also learn what to do with the delicious produce offered at the market during a cooking demonstration by Café Graziani at 4:30 p.m.

Mamadou Diop will perform at 5:30 PM.

For a full listing of what farmers intend to bring to the market each week visit The market will be open from 4 – 7 p.m. rain or shine Thursday in Derby Square on Front Street.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's Hear it for the boys and cut loose...

Footloose!! I'm so excited for this show. The cast performed during intermission on July 4th (see photo below) and it was great - get up and dance music. And the Main Stage is a great theater. Buy your tickets online, and be sure to use the discount that is on!! Here's the official scoop on Footloose at Summer Theatre at Salem:

Summer Theatre at Salem, the professional troupe in residency at Salem State College, celebrates fifteen seasons with its production of Footloose, The Musical. The musical is the story of a small Bible town turned upside down by a teenage dancer, best known from the Kevin Bacon movie of the 1984. Hit songs include Almost Paradise, Holding on for a Hero, Let’s Hear it For the Boy, and of course, Footloose.

“This is the largest summer theatre cast we have ever assembled,” according to Director Peter Zachari. “In addition to great dancing and classic songs, Footloose has some wonderful themes: that community does come together when tragedy strikes and that suppressing things we don’t like or disagree with can actually make those things stronger. “ The production team of Zachari, along with Joey Mirabile, choreographer and Brent Kincaid, music director reunites the creators of last summer’s hit, Grease.

New comer Nicholas Christopher plays Ren, the film role that shot actor Kevin Bacon to stardom. The cast is rounded out with other local favorites: Jaime Slatt, Harry Rothman, Brianne Beatrice, Ursina Amsler and, making a special appearance as Principal Clark, local director, Henry Dembowski.

Thursday-Sunday, July 16-July 26

7:30 pm shows, Sundays at 2 pm

$20 general/$15 students and seniors


Mainstage Theatre, 352 Lafayette Street, Salem

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ride the Salem Ferry to Boston

This is the best ride in town. We took the Salem Ferry in to Boston last night - 4pm boat in, 9pm boat back - to see the Tall Ships ( and have dinner (the Ferry's Cruise & Dine program is awesome - save 10% off your meal!). Here are a few pictures from our trip.

Entering Boston Harbor:

The view of the tall ships in the Seaport district from the Ferry:

The Boston's Best Cruises ticket kiosk in Boston (but I recommend booking online to guarantee your spot!):

View of Boston Harbor at 8:45 pm waiting for the Salem Ferry to shuttle us home:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane

Have you read it? Have you heard about it? The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane is the first novel by Katherine Howe. The novel is about Harvard PhD student Connie Goodwin, who finds herself both working on her dissertation and preparing her grandmother's abandoned Marblehead home for potential sale during the summer of 1991.

While cleaning her "Granna's" house, Connie finds a key with a name, Deliverance Dane. And thus begins her adventure into seventeenth century Salem and Massachusetts.

You can experience Connie Goodwin's Salem, and - better yet - you can experience Deliverance Dane's Salem. Here's how to do it:

Cry Innocent - Bridget Bishop was accused of witchcraft in 1692. Participate in Cry Innocent, presented at Old Town Hall by the Gordon College Institute for Public History, and be a part of the jury. Hear the historical testimonies and find yourself considering the fate of Bridget Bishop just as her jury did in 1692. This case is not cut-and-dry. It is complicated. And being part of the jury just might give you a new perspective on the daily struggle of life in Salem in the late 1600s.

The Witch House, or the Corwin House, at 310 Essex Street, is Salem's only building with direct ties to the Witch Trials of 1692. Explore the rooms where Judge Jonathon Corwin lived and determined the fate of so many people more than three hundred years ago. Stand in the kitchen and close your eyes - now imagine this is the house of Deliverance Dane, and she is sitting at the table while her daughter Mercy checks the bread in the oven.

The Old Burying Point, Charter Street Cemetery, and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial is the most appropriate place to remember the people who lost their lives during the trials of 1692. You will find the grave of, among others, "hanging judge" John Hathorne, in the Charter Street Cemetery. Behind the cemetery - and it is no accident that it is behind the cemetery - is the Witch Trials Memorial, which was dedicated in 1992.

The Memorial has a bench for each of the condemned men and women, and each bench is inscribed with their name, the date of their execution, and the method of execution. The memorial is intended to be stark, and the words inscribed in the entrance are fading away and have blocks falling over them - symbolizing the communities inability to hear the pleas of innocence from the accused.

At The Witch Dungeon Museum, 16 Lynde Street, you can watch a dramatic reenactment of one of the trials, and then you will go downstairs to tour the recreated dungeon. The actual dungeon was destroyed, but The Witch Dungeon Museum conveys the dank, dark, uncomfortable quarters where people were held for years. The only thing it is missing is the human smells - and I for one forgive that omission. It's best left to our imaginations.

The Salem Witch Museum, 19 1/2 Washington Square, will start you in 1692 and bring you to present day with their two exhibits. The first presentation tells the story of 1692 and the girls' crying out that led to the trials and executions, the trials themselves, the living conditions in the jails, and the end of the Trials. The second exhibit talks about Witchcraft: Evolving Perceptions, and presents the different faces of Witchcraft and witches in different cultures and over time.

After the second exhibit at the Salem Witch Museum, you will be 2009 Salem, which is different from Connie Goodwin's 1991 Salem... we have many more shops and restaurants, the Peabody Essex Museum has been dramatically expanded, the House of the Seven Gables has invested in and restored their exhibits. We have a Ferry that connects Salem and Boston.

Don't ignore all of these fantastic aspects of Salem, but if you want to focus on the Salem of 1991 that Connie Goodwin experienced, visit Crow Haven Corner, 125 Essex Street, which was Salem's first Witch shop, to pick up a spell or have your fortune told.

If you want to visit a meeting house like the one where Connie meets Sam in the beginning of her exploration, you have a few options. Stop at Rockafellas for a bite to eat, because it is in the Old Daniel Low building, which was Salem's first meeting house and one of the first churches in America.

I suspect The First Church in Salem at 316 Essex Street would be the parish where Connie began her research. Parishioners of this church were excommunicated during the trials, and it is the oldest church in Salem. Another beautiful historic church in Salem is St. Peter's Episcopal Church at 24 St. Peter's Street. St. Peters founded after the trials, in 1733, but it was founded by Phillip English, who was accused during the 1692 Trials, and thus has an interesting tie to the Trials of 1692.

A short walk down Essex Street from the First Church is The Salem Athenaeum, a private library in Salem that was founded in 1810. The Athenaeum received the collections of Salem's Social Library, which began in 1760.

I thought a lot about Connie's Granna's house in Marblehead, and I think it may be similar to the Narbonne House (pictured) at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. You'll have to imagine the overgrown garden, though, as the yard around the Narbonne House is quite pristine! The Gedney House, a Historic New England property at 21 High Street, is another First Period home in Salem that could be similar to the house in Marblehead. Both the Narbonne House and the Gedney House are study houses, so they are not furnished, but a visit to to either will give you a sense of how a house from the 1600s looks today.

Katherine Howe will be doing a reading and a book signing of The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane on July 31st at Cornerstone Books in Salem. Perhaps she will shed some light on other sites in Salem that may have inspired her novel.

Monday, July 6, 2009

10 Free Things in Salem MA features a list of 10 Free Things to Do in Salem. It's a handy list to know, and any of the activities included will make for a lovely afternoon - especially when paired with an ice cream from Ben & Jerry's or Maria's Sweet Somethings - both of which are adjacent to the Heritage Trail.

Here's the abbreviated list. Click here for more complete information.

  1. See the two free films at the National Park Service sites: Where Past is Present, and To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East.
  2. Walk the African American History Trail and the Nathaniel Bowditch Trail: A Walking Tour of the Great Age of Sail.
  3. The McIntire Historic District Walking Trail and beautiful Chestnut Street
  4. The Ropes Mansion Gardens at 318 Essex Street.
  5. Salem Common is a favorite spot for jogging, reading, concerts, and wedding ceremonies.
  6. Take the half-mile walk out Derby Wharf to Derby Light and enjoy a beautiful view of Salem, Salem Harbor, and Marblehead.
  7. Salem Willows offers a waterside park, beaches, and a pier that is great for fishing and crabbing.
  8. Pause to reflect on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 at the Witch Trial Memorial.
  9. Visit the Old Burying Point Cemetery (Charter Street).
  10. Follow the Heritage Trail, which is the red line painted on the sidewalk.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cry Innocent and Pioneer Village Open this Weekend

Over the years, visitors have expressed a unique interest in learning more about the people and events of 17th century Salem. On July 4th, History Alive! is hosting its Grand Opening with the recreation of the original 1630 Salem at Pioneer Village and reenactments of the Salem Witch Trials at Old Town Hall.

The Grand Opening promises a day of discovery and relaxation to visitors of all ages. Cry Innocent will begin at Old Town Hall at 11:30AM, followed by a 1:30PM and 3:00PM afternoon show. From either Old Town Hall or Pioneer Village, visitors can catch a free ride on the Salem Trolley between both locations with the purchase of a History Alive! ticket.

The trolley pickup for Pioneer Village comes directly behind Old Town Hall on Front Street. At the village, visitors can explore 17th century life by joining a scheduled Folkways event or simply wandering through the village on their own. Folkways events include the recreation of a Sabbath Day meeting at 11:20AM and 1:20PM; Puritan songs and dance taught at 11:40AM and 1:40PM, and Colonial games at 12:00 noon and 2:00PM.

The following ticket prices apply to both shows: $9 adults, $8 seniors/students, free for children under six years, and a $2 discount is available with the purchase of a Cry Innocent and Folkways ticket.

Having been closed the past four and a half seasons, Pioneer Village is opening its doors to the public once again!

At Pioneer Village, visitors can take a leisurely country picnic at Forest River Park. They are also invited to take part in 17th century song, dance, and games before investigating the new Pioneer Village gift shop. Free colonial refreshments such as non-alcoholic burnt wine, fruits, and ginger snaps will also be offered at various points within the village. Before leaving, visitors can take home a bundle of fresh herbs from the garden, along with recipes on how to use them.

The village attempts to recapture the essence of 1630 Salem—the first capital of Massachusetts Colony. “At Pioneer Village, visitors can experience what life was like for people who lived in the 17th century, but another very important part of our story is to demonstrate who the Puritans were and what they accomplished,” said David Goss

For More Information: go to or visit