Joshua Ward House – Salem, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Joshua Ward House

This home is steeped in history from, George Washington to George Corwin, High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials.  

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In downtown Salem resides a hotel known as The Merchant. It’s exterior is freshly painted and the interior is filled with luxurious furnishings. This house also happens to be steeped in history and is also known as the Joshua Ward House.

This beautiful Federal-style house was constructed in 1784 for an influential sea-merchant named Joshua Ward. He was famous for being a prime supplier of molasses (used for rum) and spices such as Sumatran pepper to the United States. His efforts helped build the city of Salem. 

It was built on the original foundation of a house that dates back to the 1600s, which was once the home of George Corwin, known as the High Sheriff during the Salem witch trials. There are still stones along the ground near the house that can be dated back to this period.

There are multiple myths surrounding Corwin, though the most well-known might be that he was cursed (along with the city of Salem) by a man accused of witchcraft named Giles Corey. The man is said to have uttered the curse with his last dying breath while Corwin oversaw his condemnation of Peine forte et dure. This harsh and grotesque court-ordered procedure entailed piling multiple weights on the accused chest until they confessed or died. 

The hotel is located on Washington Street in Salem, which was named after George Washington, who stayed at the home when he visited the city to address the troops. 

Know Before You Go

Since this is now a small hotel and not a museum, visitors who are not booking a room, but would still like to see the house should go to the door and ask to be given a tour. The people who work at the hotel are always more than happy to show people around, as long as they are not asking to do so for the purpose of "ghost hunting."


Visitors can also stay in the actual room that George Washington slept by requesting the "George Washington King Deluxe."

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