The Salem Inn Bed and Breakfast is thrilled to be working with historian Ray Swartz to provide history buffs the most comprehensive tours in Salem. His tours can be booked through Ray’s website here, or by purchasing one of the Inn’s History Lover’s Package. The package includes a copy of the book A Season With the Witch by Edgar Award-winning J. W. Ocker. (O.J. Ocker spent autumn of 2015 in Salem to discover just what makes our city so special, and of course, creepy); a one-night stay at the Inn; and tickets to the History Lover’s Tour which starts in front of the Salem Inn on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1:00 pm.
A Season With the Witch—Included with the History Lover’s Package
Ray’s tours are chock full of facts, not speculation. His tours are aimed at people who want to experience Salem with a historian’s eye, and not necessarily the chills and thrills of a ghost tour. He does speak about the witch trials, but also takes a deep dive into the subjects of Salem’s Puritan settlers; its role in the American Revolution and how its privateers made Salem America’s richest city; the city’s varied architecture; and the roles of Salem’s underrepresented but incredibly important women. He’ll tell you about Salem in the present as well, including places to eat and shop, modern-day witches, and why Salem is the Halloween capital of the world.
Map of Salem from 1820
The History Lover’s Tour will cover, among many other locations, subjects and stories, some history of the Salem Inn and Captain Nathaniel West who built the West House; (one of the Salem Inn’s properties—of course!); the Witch House, (home to the hanging judge, Jonathan Corwin); Broad Street Cemetery (a little-known graveyard around the corner from the Inn where High Sheriff George Corwin is buried); and a number of Salem’s favorite restaurants such as Ledger, (located in the original 1818 Salem Savings Bank building, featuring traditional 19th-century dishes, cocktails, and techniques); Turner’s Seafood, (located in the historic Lyceum Hall where Alexander Bell gave the first public demonstration of the telephone); and Goodnight Fatties (originally a pop-up cookie shop only open at night in an alleyway in downtown Salem, now located in the historic Andrew-Safford Carriage House). And please ask questions! Ray loves to educate and inform, and wants Salem’s visitors to learn that Salem is a whole lot more than just the witch trials and Halloween. By the end of the tour you will have a good sense of where to go and what to see when you’re off on your own!
Also available is Ray’s shorter tour on Wednesdays at 10 am, a one-hour tour that covers Salem’s main thoroughfare, Washington St. Although this tour covers only 800 ft., it is chock full of information! It is ideal for those with small children or folks that may have difficulty walking.
Ray’s background is in science and education, not history. He was a computer scientist for many years (having a degree from MIT is helpful with numbers—he really can remember all those dates), as well as a high school teacher for 3 years. He fell in love with history when watching the History Channel’s program Rome about 20 years ago. He was both amazed and skeptical that all those events actually occurred that he began to research them himself and found them all to be true. He was hooked. Since he lived in Boston, he began researching Boston history, including reading the book 1776 by David McCollough. But then something—or someone—brought him to Salem. He met the love of his life, Pam, who lived here. And now he does too! He also finds the history of Salem to be some of the most fascinating of all that in America—more than Philadelphia, Gettysburg, New York City.
Because Ray was so well-versed in history and has the talent to tell a good story, Pam encouraged him to become a tour guide on the Salem Trolley, which he did for three years. Salem Trolley guides are encouraged to develop their own style, and Ray became known as one of their best, most knowledgeable guides. After Covid, he decided to develop his own tours. Having been on one, I can attest to the depth of Ray’s knowledge of Salem’s fascinating history as well as his clear presentation and willingness to interact with his customers. Do not miss a tour from Ray Swartz, you will not be disappointed!
If you would like to book the History Lover’s Tour Package, please click here.