Old Witch Jail and Dungeon - Salem, Massachusetts

Goodall House at 4 Federal Street, c. 1900
Frank Cousins Collection (Peabody Essex Museum)

Built in 1684, the Old Witch Gaol (Jail) was an instrumental location during the Salem Witch Trials hysteria in 1692. The accused were kept in deplorable conditions that included small cells, some of which were standing room only. The indicted were denied access to water and were charged for food, straw bedding, and even a fee for their execution and cuffs. This jail was abandoned in 1813 when a new, larger jail was constructed on an adjacent lot on St. Peter Street. The location of the old jail at 4 Federal Street was purchased in 1863 by Abner Cheney Goodall, who built a home there.

In 1935, Goodall’s grandson, Alfred and his wife began offering tours of the home in which visitors could view artifacts such as unpaid bills of the accused and articles of clothing belonging to prisoners. The handbills below show advertising from c. 1940 of the Goodall’s Old Witch Jail and Dungeon exhibits.

In 1956, the New England Telephone Company razed the house at 4 Federal Street in order to construct their new headquarters. During demolition, remnants of the "Witch Dungeon" and jail, which was used to hold prisoners until 1813 was discovered below the building. A bronze plaque now adorns the Federal Street location and artifacts such as first period timbers can be viewed at the modern Witch Dungeon Museum on nearby Lynde Street.


 

Ephemera from Goodall's Old Witch Jail and Dungeon Museum
4 Federal Street
(Salem State University Archives and Special Collections)


*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

3 comments

  1. Does anyone know if this is the dungeon where Elizabeth Hart was held? She was my Great Grandmother. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sent to Boston Wedensday the 18'th May. 1692

      . Thomas Farror of lyn

      . Eliz Hart

      . John Willard of Salem village

      . Roger Toothaker of bilrica

      http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n166.html#n166.2

      Delete
    2. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n65.html

      Delete

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