Salem dedicates witch trials memorial, marking 325 years since the infamous executions

Salem officials released the final design for the Proctor’s Ledge memorial in January.
Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture LLC
Salem officials released the final design for the Proctor’s Ledge memorial in January.

The city of Salem will dedicate its Salem Witch Trials Memorial on Wednesday, marking 325 years since the infamous wave of hysteria over witchcraft spread throughout the city.

The memorial is built at Proctor’s Ledge, where 19 people accused of witchcraft are believed to have been executed in 1692. The location was confirmed as the site of the hangings by researchers in January 2016.

Of the 25 people killed during the Salem witch trials, all 19 who were executed through a hanging died at Proctor’s Ledge. Five others died in jail, and one was crushed to death.


On July 19, 1692, the first mass execution there occurred, according to a statement from Salem officials. Five women died: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes. There were two more mass executions at that site.

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“Salem is constantly looking to the lessons of its past,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said in the statement. “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.”

The final renderings for the memorial were released in January, when city officials announced the project would include a landscaped area, a semi-circular stone wall with the names of the witch trial victims, and a single oak tree as a symbol of “endurance and dignity.”

The memorial was funded in part through a $174,000 Community Preservation Act grant, in addition to dozens of small donations, the city said.

“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,” Driscoll said.


The dedication ceremony is scheduled for noon on Pope Street in Salem. The event is free, and parking will be available at the Gallows Hill Park public lot on Mansell Parkway.

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.