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Joshua Ward House –
Place – Joshua Ward House
148 Washington Street
Salem, Massachusetts 01970
The Joshua A Ward house can be found just
one block south of Town House Square, in the heart of historical
Salem. It once overlooked the South River, but this part of the
river was filled in at some point in time.
Set back from the street, with a large,
sloping front yard, The Joshua A. Ward House is an impressive,
three story, brick Federal-style structure that is now the home to
businesses; Higginson Book Company, and Carlson Realty. It has been
restored beautifully, thanks to a grant by the Massachusetts
There is a lovely wooden central staircase
that leads up to the other floors. There are offices on the first
floor, in both the library and the parlor. ( We peeked into the
entry way for a better look!) Some of the magnificent woodwork was
done by Samuel McIntire. We saw mail boxes in the foyer, and
offices in the various rooms on the first floor.
This large brick mansion was built for a
retired sea captain turned merchant, Joshua Ward in the mid 1780s.
George Washington stayed here while visiting Salem in October,
1789, the honored guest of Joshua Ward.
In the late 19th century, this structure
became an upscale hotel, called The Washington Hotel.
As land near downtown is valuable, changes
were coming for this property, with a building in need of TLC.
Sometime in the 20th century, a multi-storied commercial building
was constructed on the large front, sloping yard of the Joshua A
Ward House, perhaps a sign of the mansion/hotel's coming demise. In
the 1970s, when most of America lost its mind and started to tear
down wonderful old structures, a commercial developer submitted a
proposal to the Salem Redevelopment Authority, to tear down this
mansion, and build another commercial building behind the one
already standing in the former front yard.
Fortunately, his proposal was turned down,
and efforts were made to get the funds to restore this lovely old
structure. The commercial building that had been built in the front
yard was torn down, and the mansion's front yard was restored! The
former hotel was turned into a commercial enterprise, with
businesses moving in to set up business offices.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Joshua Ward built his mansion on the land
that once was where the infamous Sheriff George Corwin had his
house/jail, during the 1680s. Uh oh! Sheriff George Corwin,
nick-named "The Strangler", had the duty to interrogate suspected
witches and warlocks, and carried out the painful death sentences,
during Salem's shameful witch hunting era, which took place in the
years of 1692 - 1693.
Nineteen men and women were executed under
his watch; either hung by the neck, suffering a slow strangulation,
if they were lucky enough to survive the cruel interrogation
process. Sheriff George Corwin turned out to be a sadist, and came
up with dastardly methods, such as tying the accused prisoner's
neck to their ankles, until blood came out of their nose. On more
than one occasion, the accused was crushed by rocks to either get a
confession or a denial. The tortured often cursed his/her accusers,
the judge and Sheriff George Corwin.
Sometimes entities haunt the land where
their house/business once stood, only too glad to move into the
next structure built on the land.
( Willard Library * Capitol Record Building * Rivoli Theater )
People who have been executed/murdered
often haunt the place where they suffered, died, reliving their
torment, unhappy/angry about their death; not wanting to accept it
or perhaps looking for their tormentors.
( Wyoming Frontier Prison * Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House *
Saint James Hotel * Bobby Mackey's Music World )
Sheriff George Corwin died of a sudden
heart attack in 1697, and was interned in his cellar because the
ground was probably frozen during the winter at the time of his
death. Also, the sheriff was so despised, that his family was
afraid that his body would be dismembered by an unruly crowd. His
grave remained there for many years before being moved to Broad
When graves are moved or disturbed, this
can make spirits restless/confused.
( Liberty Hall Mansion * Cincinnati Music Hall * Grant-Humphries Mansion * Rose Hills Historical Cemetery * Cedar Grove Mansion )
There are two entities who reside here who
were innocent victims of the witch trials, perhaps looking for
Entity of a
woman with black, rather wild hair style She is
thought to be one of the victims unjustly executed. She isn't a
Her apparition has been reported, roaming
the hallways throughout the building.
When a photograph was taken of a Realtor
for a publicity shot for the Carlson Realty, the angry image of
this malevolent female spirit was caught on film, standing in one
of the mansions hallways.
entity of Giles Corey A man falsely accused of
being a warlock, who was tortured and killed by the crushing rocks
method of interrogation. Apparently, he isn't happy either. He
isn't satisfied that his final curse has stayed with not only
Sheriff George, but has affected many sheriffs who followed in the
years after his horrendous death.
Trash cans are found, turned over, books
are pulled from shelves, rooms found in disarray.
Candles are taken out and melted.
Cold spots are felt in certain corners of
The entity of
An older male entity has been seen, sitting
in a rocking chair by a fireplace.
Back in the mid-1980s, people have reported
being choked by an unseen entity. This could be Sheriff George,
trying to reclaim his authority, or it could be one of his victims,
trying to show the living what they suffered.
Items are moved around the mansion.
Candles are bent into the shape of an
Not much hard evidence has been published,
but I bet the owners of the building had a private investigation
done to see what was there, after several people had experienced
the choking feeling, and the female entity made her presence known
in the Polaroid picture! Some issues must have been worked out with
the spirits, because Carlson Reality still has an office there, as
well as a publishing company, as of 2010.
A strong "Probably so"! Many experiences
have been reported, and the Polaroid of the agitated female entity
point to entities who were on the loose. Not much has been
revealed, as this building is home to private businesses who don't
want to scare away visitors. Paranormal investigators and psychics
don't share hard evidence with the public unless allowed to do so
by their client.
"The Ups and Downs of Saving Buildings" on Salemweb.com * "The Haunted History of Salem" on HauntedPlacesToGo.com * Joshua Ward House page on GraveAddiction.com * "The Witch of the Joshua Ward House" by Matt Forde on Unexplained-Mysteries.com * Joshua Ward House page on RealHaunts.com