Joshua Ward House
One of the most haunted houses in Massachusetts is considered to be the Joshua Ward House. Located at 148 Washington Street in Salem, Massachusetts, it’s one block south of Town House Square, which is right in the center of historical Salem. It used to overlook the South River, but at some point this part of the river was filled in. It sets back from the street on a big, sloping front yard. Impressively built, this brick home climbs three stories high and now serves as offices to Carlson Realty and the Higginson Book Company.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission was responsible for fully restoring this amazing house right down to the beautiful wooden staircase located in the center of the home that lead to the upper floors.
The Joshua Ward House was built by none other than retired sea captain Joshua Ward during the middle 1780s. Ward played host to George Washington in October of 1789 when he visited Salem. Late during the 19th century the house was turned into a high end hotel known as The Washington Hotel.
History of the Haunted House
The land that Joshua Ward chose to build his house on was where Sheriff George Corwin, also known as “The Strangler,” lived as well as maintained his jail in the 1680s. It was his self-appointed duty to interrogate anyone suspected of witchcraft as well as carry out the excruciating death sentences passed over anyone found to be guilty of practicing Satanism, black arts or cursing spells. These took place during the hunting of the witches of Salem between 1692 and 1693.
There were 19 alleged Salem Witches that were executed during this time and the Sheriff was responsible for all of them. These poor people were hung, slowly strangling to death if they managed to make it through the abominable process of interrogation. The Sheriff was a true sadist and was quite inventive when it came to devising some truly despicable interrogation methods. He would do such horrible things to the accused like tying their necks to their ankles until their noses bled. The suspects were even crushed by rocks in an effort to get them to confess or deny being involved in witchcraft. Many victims cursed their accusers along with the Sheriff before dying.
Since people tend to haunt the places where they have been unjustly murdered, there’s little wonder that there are many reported sightings of ghosts along with paranormal activity in the Joshua Ward House. These poor victims were mistreated so badly and their deaths were so beyond horrible that they’re returning to the scene of the crime.
Happily, the aberrant Sheriff Corwin experienced an unexpected heart attack in 1697 and died instantly. He was put in his cellar because the ground was too frozen to dig a grave when he died. In addition, he was so hated that his family feared a mad mob would dismember his body. His grave remained in the cellar for years until it was moved to the Broad Street Cemetery. It should be noted here that spirits can become restless and confused when their graves are disturbed.
The spirits of two innocent victims of Sheriff Corwin are quite possibly still searching for the man responsible for their deaths in one of the most haunted houses in MA. One of these is a woman sporting wild, black hair and. This woman has been spotted wandering through the hallways of the building. She turned up in a photograph that was taken of a realtor from Carlson Realty. Her image was angry and threatening as she stood in one of the hallways.
The other one is that of a man. His name is Giles Corey and he was falsely accused of being a Salem witch. The Sheriff tortured and killed him with the crushing rocks method. In fact, the final curse he put on Sheriff Corwin has also affected several of the sheriffs following after him for years.
Various oddities and paranormal activities occur in the Joshua Ward House. Such things as trash cans overturned, books pulled from the shelves, rooms messed up, candles taken out, melted, and bent into an S shape. There are also cold spots felt in certain rooms.
The “good” sheriff himself has also been spotted as well as felt by witnesses. Sightings are of an older man sitting by the fireplace in a rocking chair. In the mid-1980s, there were people that reported an unseen entity choking them. It’s possible that Sheriff Corwin returned in an attempt to take charge once more. It may also have been one of his many victims trying to share the horrors they suffered.
One of the Most Haunted Houses in Massachusetts
The current owners of the Joshua Ward House don’t share with the public all the details of the haunting and spook of the premises built on the grounds of the Salem witches were tried. However, it can be taken for granted that the Joshua Ward House is among the most haunted houses in Massachusetts, being visited by the spirits of many of the poor, innocent murder victims of Sheriff Corwin. The photograph showing the angry female in the background pretty much says it all.