Sarah Clayes House – Framingham, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Sarah Clayes House

A home built and settled by a refugee of the Salem Witch Trials. 


The Sarah Clayes house is nestled away in a quiet, picturesque, and scenic neighborhood in Framingham on Salem End Road. Many historic homes line the streets complimented by thick foliage and many old stone walls. In essence, it seems to capture the classic New England imagery but there is one home in this area that has a very storied past and a direct connection to one of early America’s darkest chapters in history.

Sarah Towne was born in 1638 and eventually settled in Salem Village with her second husband Peter Cloyse shortly after the death of her first husband in 1682. Ten years later, the infamous Salem Witch Trials began and Sarah, along with her two sisters Rebecca and Mary, were accused of being witches. Rebecca was executed in April 1692 and Mary was hanged later that year in September.

In August 1692, Sarah was transferred to a prison in Ipswich and was able to escape with the help of her husband Peter. In March 1693, they made their way to Danforth Plantation and settled in an area near Cowassock Brook changing their last name to Clayes. The land was owned by Thomas Danforth, who was the colonial governor when the trials began and openly disapproved of the hearings. Danforth was voted out as governor in December 1692 and was very sympathetic to the plight of the accused and let many refugees including Sarah and her family settle on his land. The area where many of the refugees initially settled came to be known as Salem End.

After Danforth died in 1699, the settlers came together and formed the town of Framingham in 1700 named after Danforth’s place of birth Framlingham in England. For many years the house was dilapidated and in disrepair but underwent restoration a few years ago and was purchased by a family in 2019. The Sarah Clayes house is definitely worth a quick visit if you’re interested in the history of the Salem Witch Trials and would like to see some of the earliest homes ever built in the now-city of Framingham.

Know Before You Go

The home is currently a private residence and there's a parking lot for a day camp very close by. It's usually empty and a good location to park your car and walk over to see the home for a few minutes.

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