I find peace in my memories, as I walk around the third floor.
The spirits of a betrayed or murdered woman, the original owner,
a friendly ghost kitty, and a young child call these three places home.
Perhaps the spirits of parents of the young child spirit are also here,
trying to get on the same plane of existence to take her to the spirit world.
The inn is called the “Haunted Crown Jewel of Salem”
The inn is made up of three distinct homes: The 1834 Federalist style Nathaniel West/Cogswell Home, the 1854 Italianate Revival Style Curwen House, and the 1874 Dutch Colonial Peabody House. The Salem Inn has forty-two guest accommodations among the three houses.
The grand-looking Nathaniel West/Cogswell House, with a marvelous street presentation, is the main part of the inn, with twenty-two rooms in its three very spacious townhouses, that share a wall with the middle townhouse. NRHP: “Each building is three window bays wide, with a recessed side entry framed by a wooden portico; the right two unit entries are adjacent, and sheltered by a single portico.”
All of its guest rooms have antiques, a bathroom with European-style walk-in showers. Pets are welcome here! The spirit kitty may not like it, but it has no say in the matter.
There is a room type for everyone’s needs and budget.
Some Classic Rooms have 310 Sq Ft, a King or Queen bed. Others have the same square footage, but with a Queen bed and an “adjacent bath.”
If you want a fireplace, a Deluxe Room is for you. It also has 310 Sq Ft, with a King or Queen bed. Whirlpool Suites are always popular, and have 335 Sq Ft and a Queen bed.
The bigger suites have a lot more room: Deluxe Whirlpool Suites: 440 Sq Ft, Deluxe Queen Suites: 470 Sq Ft, and third floor Family Suites: 550 Sq Ft.
Deluxe Whirlpool Suites have a Queen bed, whirlpool tub, and fireplace. Deluxe Queen Suites have two Queen beds and a kitchenette, and Family Suites have one bedroom, Queen bed, Trundle bed, living/dining room and a kitchenette.
The Curwen House is an Italianate Revival home built in 1854 by James B. Curwen and his brother, Capt. Samuel R. Curwen, and is for adult guests only. It was built as a duplex, with the doors to each unit sitting side by side on the front porch. Guests enjoy a complimentary glass of sherry while relaxing on the back patio or studying the beautiful trompe l’oeil mural in the parlor.
Each of the eleven guest rooms display restored antiques, Queen beds, and come with private bathrooms with European-style walk-in showers.
The Classic Rooms are the smallest, with 270 Sq Ft. The Deluxe Rooms are a little bigger with 300 sq Ft and have fireplaces for show. The three Deluxe Whirlpool Suites are bigger still with 345 Sq Ft, and have oversized whirlpool baths and working fireplaces.
The Peabody House was built as a single family Dutch Colonial home in 1874, probably for a large family in need of space. It is perfect today for families, couples and small groups traveling together. With a comfortable and inviting parlor, it is ideal for larger groups to meet and socialize. All rooms feature modern bathrooms with luxury European-style walk-in showers, antiques, and fireplaces, some of which work.
There is a room for everyone! The Deluxe Rooms fit everything mentioned above in 252 Sq Ft. without crowding. An example of a Deluxe Room can be seen on the Salem Inn’s website. It is quite charming, with wood floors, small area rugs, a Queen antique bed frame and headboard, two end tables with lamps on either side of the bed, a chest of drawers, and a nice small round table and two chairs in the corner between the two windows.
There are two romantic Deluxe Suites, each with a spacious 406 Sq Ft, that features a King-Size four-poster bed, kitchenette and sitting area.
The Peabody House offers four comfortable and spacious Family Suites with kitchenettes, living and dining rooms. Three are Family Suites, and one is the Premium Family Suite. Family Suites are where families can spread out in 525 Sq Ft to enjoy the Queen bed, Trundle bed, kitchenette, living room and dining room.
Premium Family Suite has 1025 Sq Ft, for a large family group. Family members have two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom with European-style walk-in shower, kitchen and living room/dining room.
The West/Cogswell House
Elizabeth Derby was the eldest of seven children in the wealthy Derby family. Her father Elias Hasket Derby owned merchant ships. Captain Nathaniel West commanded one of his ships. Elizabeth and Nathaniel fell in love and eloped during the Spring in 1783 when she was 21, because her family didn’t approve. Her father softened eventually and gave Nathaniel more responsibility in the family business and made him an heir, bringing up West’s class standing.
On the bright side, Elizabeth and Nathaniel had six children together. He also had children outside their marriage. Elizabeth should’ve listened to her father, as her life was unhappy in this marriage, and her life ended before it should have.
Captain West had an eye for the ladies the entire time he was married to Elizabeth, who unhappily had to put up with twenty years of his infidelity until the divorce laws changed in 1806. If a woman could prove that her husband had committed adultery, she was now entitled to her fair share of her own land and money, as well as the customary one-third of her husband’s wealth.
On Nov. 11, 1806, the nasty divorce trial of West v. West began in Supreme Judicial Court in Salem. Elizabeth had the prostitutes that he slept with come to court and testify, as well as the women who had his children. “Elizabeth Derby West submitted a statement by a woman claiming Nathaniel West fathered her two children. She also produced a letter in which West made financial arrangements for a child, though the child shouldn’t have the name of ‘West.’”
Captain West fought back by offering “evidence” his wife offered local women money to claim he fathered their children. His lawyers further claimed that his infidelities happened before the 1806 law was written.
The judge ruled in favor of Elizabeth. The two parties came together to work out a fair settlement. Elizabeth received the Danvers Estate farm, called Oak Hill that she had received from her father’s will, alimony of $3,000 a year, plus funds to provide for the children still at home, 12-year-old Edward and 9-year-old Sara. The older children, 19-year-old Martha, Harvard student 18-year-old Nathaniel Jr, and 16-year-old Elizabeth probably chose to live with their father.
However, Elizabeth lost in the court of public opinion, and was shunned by Salem society. While the Captain’s behavior was adulterous, she had put up with it for twenty years, which was used against her! People were horrified at the way she proved her case, giving the impression that she was out to ruin him.
Elizabeth was dropped from a society charitable group that she was a member of, and members of her church wouldn’t sit near her during services. She lost most of her friends and was unwelcome to private events. She paid a price for fighting for her rights, though she helped women stand up for themselves in the long run.
She died just eight years later in 1814, at the age of 52. Her funeral was a small family affair, with no one coming from the town. “The body was brought from her farm in Danvers in the Danvers hearse, followed by seven coaches and chaises. No one but the relatives attended excepting a minister.” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/west-salem-scandal-1806-part-3-sandra-wagner-wright)
She left her hard-won gains to her three daughters, and forbade them to give anything to their dad. She also left some funds to her oldest son who was in Harvard, and probably something to her younger son as well.
However, each daughter wound up eventually giving their share of the Oak Hill Estate to their dad. Sarah, who was a TB victim, bequeathed it in 1819, Elizabeth in 1826, and Martha in 1840.
In 1824, Captain West had four rooms of the Oak Hill Mansion taken to his home at 34 Chestnut Street, and added them to make his mansion bigger, creating a new Federalist mansion. These were some of the beautiful rooms that Elizabeth had renovated and redesigned to fit her sense of taste.
Meanwhile, her ex-husband merely remarried Julia Houghton just three months after Elizabeth died. The couple had a son, Richard, in 1818. Captain West “prospered and remained a leading member of society.”
In a move to down-size, he built West House in 1834 from the money he had made from his marriage into the Derby family business, as a retirement home. The happy couple lived in one, while renting out the other two townhouses. He died at ninety-five in 1851.
In 1874, the West House was sold out of the West family. The new owner was Union Civil War general Williams Cogswell, who was well-liked and respected. He was twice elected the Mayor of Salem.
Many families lived in this handsome home. At some point, it became three rental units, and the townhomes were not maintained through the years. They became funky, run-down rentals, slipping each era down a notch. By 1983, they were unlivable, described as being dilapidated, but still a candidate for restoration because of their solid bones. The property was put on the real estate market, in hopes that it would sell before it fell down for good. It was rescued by Salem newcomers Dick and Diane Pabich who wanted to invest in a property. Its looks didn’t scare them as they were attracted to what the building would look like when they had restored it.
They had a long to-do list before them, but they were undaunted, and not afraid of hard work. They did such a great job restoring the home, that the city of Salem was ecstatic, and had them list it on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dick and Diane became innkeepers! Wanting to expand their inn, they bought the Curwin House, and restored it to its former glory. The third house they bought was the Peabody House. The most painstaking work involved removing the tile and then the linoleum that was nearly impossible to peel back, because a former owner thought that is was supposed to stay there forever. It was worth the hassle, because under the linoleum were the beautiful hardwood floors.
Besides the living, spirits attached to this inn are also really pleased with the results, and have become active as they try to work out their restlessness and find some peace.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Spirits who have loved their homes while alive, sometimes choose to spend their afterlives in their favorite place, where they have good memories.
Linden Bed and Breakfast, MS (A family’s forever home in life, has become a favorite place in their afterlife).
McRaven House, MS (So many spirits of former residents reside in their favorite home that the living owners have opened up a historic tour and ghost hunt business, as the living cannot live here comfortably).
Ernest Hemingway House Museum, FL (The spirit of Ernest still loves to write and type away in his writing studio, and will wave at passerby as well).
The Salem Inn, MA (The spirit of Nathaniel West has chosen to reside in his last home, the West House. The spirit of a child who used to live in the West/Cogswell townhomes also loves it, and her parents may also be here. The kitty may have lived in one of the townhomes).
When a woman or man who think they are in a committed, loving relationship are harmed emotionally or physically by their beloved, are sometimes stuck in this world. If they get no justice or revenge, this can make them even madder than before and very active).
East Wind Inn, VT (From reports in the records, in the 1800s, there was a woman found stabbed in the chest and strangled, near or in the East Wind Building. This spirit murder victim is way too upset to leave).
The Old Faithful Inn, WY (A bride was murdered by her beloved husband, who turned out to be a brutal, self-centered narcissist. Both spirits are stuck here, victim and murderer).
The Hotel Alex Johnson, SD (A bride was shoved out a window because of greed).
The Salem Inn, MA (Two possible scenarios: A 21 year-old woman who was head-over-heels in love with her husband suffered emotionally from many years of his betrayal and unfaithfulness, or a woman was murdered by her beloved in the West House of the Salem Inn).
There are two theories floating around as to why this female spirit is haunting this place.
Captain Nathaniel West had an eye for the ladies, and had many affairs with women and prostitutes over twenty years, to the point that his wife Elizabeth divorced him in a nasty show trial. While she got Oak Hill Farm back and some funds to raise her kids, she lost the judgement of public opinion. Her behavior at trial was deemed worse than Captain West’s twenty years of infidelity. Her spirit still may be in emotional turmoil about what happened after the trial).
A medium had a talk with the Room 17 female spirit, and reported that she was murdered by her husband, causing her to be angry and unable to rest. She is stuck in her anger, wanting payback).
Child victims of disease and accidents sometimes like to reside where they have felt love and security.
Longwood, MS (The spirits of three of the Nutt children still reside in the family’s unfinished forever home).
Bee Bennett Mansion, CA (Two spirits of young boys have a blast together, and are quite a handful for the living to deal with).
Yarmouth Port Colonial House, MA (Spirits of full-of-fun youngsters happily play in a place they still love)
Salem Inn, MA (The spirit of a young girl resides throughout two of the three houses that make up the Salem Inn. Her spirit parents may also be with her).
The spirits of pets sometimes like to stay where they died, to be near their humans, and/or in a place where they were loved.
Morgan House, MA (The spirit of nine year old Alphie still has the spirit of his dog DoDo to keep him company).
Lemp Mansion, MO (Charles Lemp’s dog was shot in the basement before Charles Lemp killed himself. The dog, mortally wounded, dragged himself up the staircase and died trying to follow his master. The spirit of this dog is still truly devoted and stays with the spirit of Charles).
Robert E Lee Mansion, VA (Three little child spirits who died here have the spirit of their family dog to keep them company).
The Salem Inn, MA (The spirit of a friendly kitty is on the welcoming committee for the inn).
When groups of homes become one big business, the spirits from each home feel comfortable in visiting the other sections.
Concord’s Colonial Inn, MA (Spirits from the East House enjoy visiting the other two homes that are part of Concord’s Colonial Inn).
Scarlett O’Hara’s Bar and Restaurant, FL ( It is made up of two 1879 homes that were connected to create one commercial establishment. The spirit of a man who was murdered in one of the homes loves watching the living in both homes, enjoying the activities of the bar and restaurant).
The Phoenix Old Spaghetti Factory, AZ (This popular Italian restaurant takes up two large, historic Phoenix homes, the Cooper House and the Baker House, that had long ago been changed into a single commercial structure. There were two murders in the Baker House, resulting in the spirit of a gentleman who makes the best of his situation, and an angry female spirit who dwells on what happened to her. Both spirits visit both of the original homes).
The Salem Inn, MA (Spirits who once lived in one of the three townhomes that make up the inn, may also travel to the two other houses).
Spirits who received poor treatment and sometimes death from tormentors while alive, can carry a grudge into their spirit lives and apply it to the living who remind them of their vile enemy).
Harper’s Ferry National Parks Services Guest House, WV (An unfriendly, resentful male spirit is triggered into bad behavior by people wearing Federal uniforms).
Col. Michael Swope Townhouse, VA (As a Revolutionary War POW, he was cruelly treated by his British captors, developing a strong grudge against anything British. He has carried this into his spirit life, and has on one occasion stopped a British would-be buyer of the townhouse from doing so. She was a psychic medium, and he appeared to her and told her how he felt. She respected his feelings and bought another property).
East Wind Inn, ME (The spirit of a female murder victim killed by the man she loved, is still very angry, and will sometimes shove the male owner if he goes to the third floor, as she isn’t fond of men).
The Salem Inn, MA (Because of her murder, or emotional betrayal, the spirit of the female victim tries to keep living men from staying in her Room 17).
When spirits try to find each other in a familiar place, they can’t see each other because they are on different spiritual planes.
Daytona Playhouse, FL (The spirit of a husband and the spirit of his wife cannot find each other at what was their home together. It is now a playhouse).
Pagoda On Five Mile Drive, WA (The spirit of a woman who drowned in a ferry accident just in front of the Pagoda tries to find the spirit of her husband who witnessed her death and then killed himself. He can’t see her and so far she can’t find him).
The Salem Inn, MA (The spirit of Captain West has not been contacted by the female spirit who may be Elizabeth Derby because they may be on different spiritual planes. The spirits of the child’s parents can’t seem to contact this spirit child as they are on different planes as well).
Most of the spirits seem to originate from the West/Cogswell House. Some may travel to the other two houses, but they spend a lot of their time there.
Spirit of Female
She is known as Catherine (the murder victim) or Elizabeth Derby (the survivor of an unfaithful husband, a nasty court trial with social repercussions, the betrayal of her own daughters, and the partial dismantling of Oak Hills and its destruction).
Her favorite place, that she has claimed as her own, is Room 17, located in the West/Cogswell House.
When a living male stays in her room, she will do her best to disrupt his sleep.
She causes loud noises in the room’s closet, bangs on walls, and stomps around the room to wake them up.
A Temporary Truce
To placate her, male guests have put a tumbler of whisky or any kind of alcohol on the table for her, which encourages her to let them stay.
Still My House/My House Now
The female spirit feels free to rearrange items in the West House, much to the annoyance of the staff.
She finds better places for them that she likes better, to assert her ownership.
She lets staff and guests know that she is there and still in charge, or is in charge now.
Experiences of a Staff Member and Others
Her unseen presence is felt by the living as a cold breeze that rushes past them and up the stairs.
A desk clerk was freezing one morning, so she went over to the nearest fireplace to light it.
She heard a disembodied female voice call her name.
On her way back to the desk by the staircase, she felt a cold breeze swoosh by her and go up the stairs.
Other staff members and guests have had similar experiences.
My Peace/Tit for Tat!
If this is Catherine, she searches for some peace by still being the spectral owner of the house, feeling that she can still be part of the life that was so brutally taken from her.
If this is Elizabeth, she has taken ownership of Captain West’s property, as he took possession of Oak Hills, even taking three of her rooms for his own house, thanks to her daughters. He then sold it, and now it is no more. After several owners, four more of her rooms wound up in the Boston Art Museum before tearing it down.
So, why not stay in and claim his last house? “No court can touch me now.”
The Spirit of Captain Nathaniel West
He has been seen on the third floor where the Family Suites are located.
He must enjoy the antiques, all the amenities offered, and the beautiful hardwood flooring.
His heavy boot steps are heard throughout the third floor, and the rooms below.
He keeps to himself, enjoys watching families, and remembering his own fond memories.
The Spirit of a Young Child
She appears to be four or five-years-old.
She has been seen playing on the staircases and front steps of the inn.
Staff have heard her giggling.
She likes to drop pebbles onto the lobby desk from the staircase above.
She misses her parents and family.
When lonely, this child spirit follows the staff around.
They have heard child-like footsteps behind them. When they turn around, no-one living is there.
This young spirit will sometimes appear and sit on guests’ beds who remind her of her parents.
The Spirit of a Friendly Kitty
There are no living house cats at the Salem Inn.
Apparently, this spirit kitty can trigger allergic reactions to sensitive guests.
It greets the living in the parlor, rubbling up against them, and perhaps even jumping into laps.
It sometimes appears as a black cat.
On the Move
People have seen the spirit kitty move from room to room.
It travels through all three houses that make up the inn.
Lucky guests may be chosen to be this kitty’s bed companions.
One female guest who stayed in Room 11 of the West/Cogswell House, felt a kitty presence sitting on her feet.
She rudely kicked it off.
Two Unknown Spirits
A female guest who stayed in a Captain West/Cogswell House room, reports hearing a disembodied conversation between a spirit woman and a spirit man discussing their child.
Perhaps, the parents of the spirit child are here also.
They may be discussing how they can get their spirit girl to leave with them to go to the spirit world.
Perhaps they are not on the same plane of existence, and need a medium to help them.
Guests and staff have been experiencing the full paranormal sports package since the Salem Inn opened.
There is a book in the parlor where guests can write down their paranormal experiences.
A psychic was able to communicate with the female spirit who told her that her husband murdered her.
This could be Catherine, an actual murder victim, or Elizabeth, who was deeply harmed by her husband’s behavior, leading to a nasty trial and community condemnation of her, causing stress that killed her only eight years later.
I believe that the female spirit is Elizabeth, because of all she suffered from marrying the wrong man. He was an adulterer, and took her hard-earned court prize, Oak Hills, after she died before her time, because after his daughters gave it to him. He sold it outside the family, and it eventually was torn down. Death has given her no peace, and her anger burns still.
Perhaps the reason that the spirit of Nathaniel West stays on the third floor is to avoid Elizabeth, who may not know that he is here too!
It is considered one of the most haunted inns in Salem. While there isn’t much hard evidence, the amount of personal experiences reported over the years would fill volumes! While the owners won’t admit it, staff and guests know that spirits share the space with the living as they work through their memories and their restlessness. They make their demands, and have some fun too as they interact with the unsuspecting living.
West/Cogswell House, 7 Summer St, Salem, MA 01970-3315
Curwin House, 15 Summer Street, Salem, MA 01970-3315
Peabody House, 331 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970-3315
The Salem Inn’s homes are located on Summer Street, between Chestnut Street and Essex Street, an easy walk to downtown Salem.
- “NRHP nomination for John P. Peabody House”. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
- “NRHP nomination for West Cogswell House”. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
- Peabody House = https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/83000581
- https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LZXF-LTT/capt-nathaniel-massey-west-i-1756-1851The Scandalous 1806 Divorce of Elizabeth Derby West – New England Historical Society
- The Ghosts of the Salem Inn – https://salemghosts.com/the-salem-inn/