, Salem, MA

Local News

July 20, 2013

Salem keeps Pioneer Village open

Weekend tours began this month


Peterson said Gordon College has been supportive as she’s taken over the reins at Pioneer Village.

She was given the keys to the village this month and did a walk-through and quick cleanup with her staff. They did a trial run of tours earlier this month and offered the first public tours on July 12.

The city will continue to charge the same admission price that Gordon College charged: $6 for adults and $4 for children and students. Revenue from ticket sales will be put into its own account and not mingled with Witch House funds, said Peterson.

The city-run Witch House on Essex Street is the 17th-century home of Jonathan Corwin, a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials.

Doing research for Pioneer Village has led Peterson to look at the Witch House’s story differently, she said. Both properties depict Salem’s early years, but from different perspectives.

“They emphasize each other. It’s a great way for the city to welcome visitors to 17th-century Salem,” she said. “... I think people will be surprised at many of the things I’m finding in my just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg research. It’s amazing to put those puzzle pieces together, and it enriches my understanding of what we have here at the (witch) house as well.”

Long-term plans for Pioneer Village will be decided after the summer. Any multiyear contract with a nonprofit or other entity to manage the property would have to go out to bid.

Peterson, who came to the Witch House in 2008, feels there is potential for expanded programming, special events and other initiatives at Pioneer Village.

“I’d love to see it not just barely getting by, but active and alive,” she said.

“This remarkable property can be a resource for many nonprofit, community, cultural and educational institutions,” she said in an email to the Salem News.

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