City of Salem Marks 325th Anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials
On June 10, 1692, Bridget Bishop became the first of 25 innocent people to lose their life as a result of the Salem witch hysteria. To mark the date, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has issued a proclamation calling for a Day of Remembrance on June 10, 2017. The text of the proclamation is below.
Speaking at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial as part of a Salem Award Foundation event this morning, Mayor Driscoll also announced the date and time at which the City will formally dedicate the new memorial at Proctor’s Ledge, believed now to be the site at which 19 innocent people were hanged in 1692 for the supposed crime of witchcraft. The dedication event will take place at the new memorial on Pope Street on Wednesday, July 19, at noon.
On July 19, 1692, the first of three mass executions took place at the site, when five innocent individuals were hanged: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes. The dedication ceremony on July 19 is free and open to all who wish to attend and pay their respects.
“Salem is constantly looking to the lessons of its past,” said Mayor Driscoll. “Whether it was through the formation of our No Place for Hate Committee and our landmark non-discrimination ordinance, or through the good work of the Salem Award Foundation, the lessons we learn from our history directly inform the actions we take today. Having this site memorialized, especially as we mark the 325th anniversary of that tragic event, presents an opportunity for us to come together as a community, recognize the injustice and tragedy perpetrated against those innocents in 1692, and recommit ourselves to the values of inclusivity and justice.”
The design and construction of the memorial, as well as improvements to the streetscape and the parcel itself, were funded primarily through a $174,000 Community Preservation Act grant, as well as dozens of small donations, many from descendants of those wrongfully executed at the site. The design of the memorial and landscaping plans for the site were developed by landscape architect Martha Lyon through a participatory public process and multiple meetings on site with abutters. The memorial plans call for a landscaped slope down from the ledge where the executions are believed to have taken place. At the base of the slope, on Pope Street, there will be a semi-circular area surrounded by a stone wall. Stones with the names of the nineteen individuals who were hanged near the site will be set into the wall and lit from the ground below with a single light on each name. While trees will be planted along the perimeter of the parcel itself, at the center of the memorial on Pope Street there will be a single oak tree, as a symbol of endurance and dignity.