Salem Book Swap

UPDATE: 2018 Book Swap is Saturday March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) same times and location.

From the Salem Recycles office of the City of Salem. Not a Gallows Hill event, instead a city-wide event, but worth taking note of regardless.

As we write this it’s a cold snow day–the perfect day for clearing out bookshelves! Start collecting your books now for Salem Recycles semiannual Book Swap on Saturday March 18, 10 am — 1 pm at Salem Senior Center, 5 Broad St. Swapping is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint! Bring books, CDs, DVDs, videos, greeting cards and/or take home books, and more. No swap needed!

Books can be dropped off on Friday, March 17 from 5 pm — 7 pm, or Saturday, March 18 9:45 – noon. Volunteers will be available to help unload your car. Also at this event–a reusable bag swap. Bring your extra reusable cloth bags for others to use. Every book not taken at the book swap will be either donated or recycled!

Gallows Hill Water Tower

The Salem Water Tower sits atop a high ledge in Gallows Hill Park. It is an otherwise unremarkable water tower made distinctive by the image of a witch astride a broomstick painted on its side. The tower received a new coat of paint in spring 2016, so the witch disappeared for several months, but not to worry, she reappeared by the summer. Only, the insignia was different (compare pre- and post-painting photos below).Gallows Hill Water Tower

The pre-2016 insignia silhouettes a witch on a broom, the witch’s hat forming the “A” in Salem, the letters in eerie Gothic font. The less elaborate post-painting insignia does away with the illusion of the witch’s hat and depicts ‘Salem’ in plain block font, despite the Salem News article on the matter promising a return of the logo. No Matter. The new depiction is larger and so readily visible to airliner passengers coming into Logan airport on runways 22L or 22R. (The prevailing winds on calm days are from the southwest, the heading of runways 22L and 22R). So next time you fly into Salem on a calm clear day look out the plane window to see the Salem witch a-flying right with you.

The water tower witch logo also earned the Gallows Hill water tower the No. 3 spot on a listing of the 12 coolest water storage tanks in New England.

The water storage tank in Salem, MA is rather ordinary save for one very important detail: there is a silhouette of a witch riding on a broomstick painted onto the side of the tank. Salem is well known for its brutal Salem witch trials of 1692, during which 20 innocent people were executed, and to this day Salem gets much of its cultural identity from the trials. During Halloween, Salem attracts thousands of tourists dressed in witchy garb as well as people interested in the paranormal and witchcraft.


Artisan Bakery to open in Gallows Hill

In great news for Gallows Hill residents A&J King Artisan Bakers have announced they will be expanding, taking over and renovating the former and now empty Peters Laundry Bldg at 131-135 Boston St.

From the Salem News:

[The Salem City Council] signed off on a five-year tax increment financing proposal benefiting an expansion for A&J King Artisan Bakers, a local bakery that has run out of a small shop at 48 Central St. since 2006. Owners Andy and Jackie King plan to open a primarily baking-only facility at 131-135 Boston St., previously Peter’s Laundry Co. … The bakery will lease 7,447 square feet of 131 to 135 Boston St. to house its baking operations, along with a small, roughly 600-square-foot retail storefront.

The Gallows Hill neighborhood is sorely lacking in eating amenities (pizza and doughnuts yes, but coffeehouses, bakeries, wine shops, tea houses, and the like, no). As noted by city councilors, the expectation is that the opening of an artisan bakery will ‘dress up’ the neighborhood and invite in more such businesses.

“I’m thrilled that you guys are coming in there,” said Ward 4 City Councilor David Eppley, who lives near the new location. “It’s a sorely needed amenity for that neighborhood, and I know the neighbors will be thrilled this is coming in.” Councilor-at-large Tom Furey said the expansion would be “a catalyst for others” to expand and dress up their properties along Boston Street, which has gradually become a pivotal “entrance corridor” into Salem.

135 Boston St

135 Boston St, Future Home of A&J Artisan Bakery

Donating to the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial


Press Release from the City of Salem

Donating to the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial
Open space with landscaping intended to offer tasteful place for reflectionProctors Ledge Memorial

SALEM, MA – With the announcement earlier this year of the final design plans for the Proctor’s Ledge memorial, the City is now accepting donations from those interested in helping to fund a portion of the project.

Last year a team of researchers and historians identified this location as the probable site of the executions of 1692. In the months that followed a team of City staff and a consulting landscape architect worked with descendants of the victims, the Salem Award Foundation, local historians, and abutting neighbors to develop a plan to tastefully memorialize the location.

When the location was announced last year, the City heard from many descendants of those who were wrongfully executed interested in the memorialization of the site. Now that the design plans are complete and the project has been bid, any interested individuals who wish to make a donation in support of this project are invited to do so.

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. At the center of the memorial on Pope Street there will be a single oak tree, as a symbol of endurance and dignity.

Those interested in making a donation may send their gift payable to “City of Salem” with “Proctor’s Ledge” on the memo line to:

City of Salem
Office of the Mayor
93 Washington Street
Salem, MA 01970

All who make a donation will be recognized at the dedication ceremony for the memorial, unless they indicate that they wish to remain anonymous.


Attachment (courtesy of Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture and the City of Salem): The memorial planned for Proctor’s Ledge calls for a tasteful open space, with the names of the victims inscribed in stone, and a central memorial tree.

Traffic Alert on Proctor Street

Building Salem reports that “As part the ongoing utility improvement project on Proctor Street, traffic detour will be established in the area to allow work on Proctor Street at Pope Street.” This is not a single day event, but will be happening intermittently over the next several weeks as the construction proceeds. As if Proctor St didn’t already face a big enough traffic snarl, as reported in the previous post. The detour proposed by Building Salem is Rube Goldberg in its complexity, taking motorists by too many streets in Witchcraft Heights. Better to just follow Route 107 around the Boston St / Essex St corner.

Major Streets of Gallows Hill

The main commercial road through the Gallows Hill neighborhood is Boston St, in colonial times the main land thoroughfare from Salem to Boston, hence the street name. Boston St (see map in previous post Neighborhoods Adjoining Gallows Hill) stretches the full extent of the neighborhood, from the Peabody line southeast to Essex St, and the portion between Bridge St and Essex St is part of MA State Route 107. Boston St is lined with many retail institutions as well as many apartments and even a few single family and multi-family homes, several of them centuries old. The other main commercial road, neighboring the east side of the neighborhood, is Essex St, which becomes Highland Ave when it passes Jackson St beside the Collins Middle School, and which is also MA State Route 107. Highland Ave was not developed commercially until the mid-20th century, so it has a more suburban feel, with parking lots of strip malls fronting the road. The only well-traveled road passing through the neighborhood, and not around it, would be Proctor St, which begins at the intersection of Boston St with Bridge St, curls up and behind Proctor’s Ledge through a strictly residential area, and deposits its traffic onto Highland Ave in front of the North Shore Medical Center. Proctor St acts as a cut-through for drivers too impatient to bear the only slightly longer route around the ‘corner’ of Gallows Hill along Route 107, but so backed up does it get during rush hours that it should bear to mind the old yogi-ism that “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Notable Sites in Gallows Hill

This post merely outlines the landmarks of Gallows Hill. Future posts will detail the significance of each.


Landmarks of Gallows Hill

Proctor’s Ledge – In Jan 2016 the Gallows Hill Project, comprised of five academic researchers from Salem State University and the University of Virginia, reported that the site where 19 unfortunates condemned of witchcraft were publicly hanged is Proctor’s Ledge, a rock outcropping near the front of Gallows Hill. Actually, this report was a re-discovery. Several times before the site had been identified, but then lost to public knowledge, but to residents of Gallows Hill the location was an open secret. One such ‘discovery’ even prompted the City of Salem in 1936 to purchase the land for a memorial that was never constructed. This time a memorial for the site, a wedge of never developed land between Proctor and Pope Streets, has been approved and as this writing is under construction.

Gallows Hill Park – In the center of the neighborhood, between the Gallows Hill and Witchcraft Heights residential neighborhoods, sits expansive Gallows Hill Park, established in 1912. The park contains the pinnacle of Gallows Hill at 100 feet above sea level, and currently contains ball fields, a playground, and a skate park. It is tucked away from all main roads and so out-of-the-way to outsiders, but is readily accessible to residents of both Gallows Hill and Witchcraft Heights.

Water Tower, Gallows Hill Park – Astride a high ledge in Gallows Hill Park sits the Salem Water Tower, an otherwise ordinary water tower made notable by the image of a witch astride a broomstick (see featured image atop this blog).

Memorial to Great Salem Fire of 1914 – on June 25, 1914 at 1:37 pm an explosion at the Korn leather factor at 57 Boston Street triggered a conflagration that swept east and north to Salem harbor before it was finally contained. A memorial to the fire now sits at the same address, in the corner of what is now a Walgreen’s parking lot, in front of Proctor’s Ledge and around the corner from the planned Proctor’s Ledge Witchcraft Trials memorial.

Proctor’s Ledge Memorial to Witchcraft Trials of 1692 – On Jan 26, 2017 the City of Salem announced the final design for the Proctor’s Ledge Witchcraft Trials Memorial, to be set in an a crevice along Pope St. Unveiling of the memorial is planned for June 10, 2017, the 325th anniversary of the hanging of Bridget Bishop, the first of 19 to be executed for witchcraft.

Blubber Hollow Plaque – A plaque relating the history of Blubber Hollow sits at the corner of Goodhue and Bridge Streets, in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts. (Regrettably, 21st century chain stores often occupy historical sites). The site sits at the center of what was once Salem’s extensive leather tanning industry.

Neighborhoods Adjoining Gallows Hill

To the northeast of Gallows Hill is the McIntire Historic District, perhaps the most celebrated residential neighborhood of Salem, with many historic homes built in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The historic and sometimes less than felicitous relations between the two neighborhoods will be topics of future posts. Also to the northeast, north of the McIntire District, lies the Mack Park neighborhood of Salem, a section of North Salem centered around Ledge Hill, another large drumlin hill, almost a matching bookend to Gallows Hill. To the north of the Gallows Hill neighborhood is the City of Peabody, once part of the pre-colonial town of Salem but separate from Salem since 1752.


To the south and west lies the late 20th century neighborhood referred to almost jocularly as Witchcraft Heights. Built in and on the dales and ridges of Salem Highlands, this area was almost wilderness until developers pushed through model suburban development beginning in the 1960s. Though often joined together with Gallows Hill as a single neighborhood, the differences of character between the neighborhoods are striking. Gallows Hill is filled with mid-19th century colonial houses; Witchcraft Heights with 20th-century split-levels and raised ranches. The streets of Gallows Hill are laid out in a modified grid pattern; the streets of Witchcraft Heights are laid out in typical sprawl pattern of winding streets and numerous cul-de-sacs. Gallows Hill has a commercial district along Boston Street; Witchcraft Heights like most suburban subdivisions excludes businesses, apart from strip malls and big box stores along Highland Avenue just outside the neighborhood. Witchcraft Heights has whimsical street names (Witch Way, Gallows Circle) reflecting the witchcraft trials heritage; street names in Gallows Hill are soberly named for long-term residents and business owners of the area.

Although Gallows Hill and Witchcraft Heights could not be more different, for the purposes of this blog they are considered together as a single neighborhood, following municipal convention, as both are serviced by the same elementary school (Witchcraft Heights) and fall into the same city ward (Ward 4, though Gallows Hill falls largely in Precinct 1 and Witchcraft Heights in Precinct 2).


Gallows Hill Neighborhood with Witchcraft Height subdivision added

Finishing the trip around Gallows Hill, to the southeast lies North Shore Medical Center, and beyond that the Bertram Field neighborhood.

The area at the seams of the McIntire, Mack Park, and Gallows Hill neighborhoods, following the North River along Bridge and Boston Streets, constitutes Blubber Hollow. Originally named for the whale oil used to produce candles and lantern oil, the area in the 19th century became home to many tanneries and complementary industries, many of which survived deep into the 20th century. For the purposes of this blog Blubber Hollow will be considered with Gallows Hill as a single neighborhood.