Post by Graveyardbride on Oct 10, 2018 18:32:25 GMT -5
John Proctor ‘Witch House’ for Sale
Many will recognize the name John Proctor from studying the Salem witch trials or seeing the The Crucible, the 1950s play by Arthur Miller which was turned into a popular 1996 movie in which Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Proctor. But not many outside the Salem area know the Proctor family home still stands in present-day Peabody and the house is currently for sale.
Listed at $600,000, the six-bedroom, two-bath house at 348 Lowell Street has loads of Colonial-era charm, according to real estate agent Joseph Cipoletta, of J Barrett & Company, with many historic features intact and maintained by the Raponi family, the current owners.
According to Kelly Daniell of the Peabody Historical Society, precisely how much of the building John Proctor occupied is unknown. He also operated a tavern at the location. While the current residence definitely stands on land on which Proctor and his family farmed and operated their business, the structure could have part of the original dwelling inside, or, perhaps, it was rebuilt on the original foundation. Some testing of the house indicates it was built after Proctor’s death, she continued, but in-depth testing hasn’t been completed because the house is privately-owned. “For it to come on the market, it was very uncommon,” Daniell added. “We were really excited.” The historical society is one of the interested buyers, she confirmed.
A snapshot of John Proctor’s life. Roughly 30 years before John Proctor was accused of witchcraft and hanged during the infamous trials, he was a successful tavern owner and farmer. He didn’t actually own his home or farm – he began leasing it in the 1660s and applied for a tavern license in 1666. The farm itself was 700 acres and lay within what was then Salem Village, before the area split to become Peabody. “He and his third wife (Elizabeth) ran a successful tavern up until the witch trials,” Daniell explained. While Lowell Street is a major artery through downtown Peabody today, back then the tavern was a “main stop” on what was the Ipswich Road. “It was in a pretty prominent place, even in the 1690s,” she continued.
But the father of 17 would end up among the 20 put to death during the witch hysteria. Proctor was hanged August 19, 1692. Elizabeth Proctor was also condemned to death, but her execution was delayed because she was pregnant. Though by the time she gave birth, in January 1693, the trials had ended and Elizabeth was spared, the family had lost everything.
The aftermath of the trials. After his father’s death, Thorndike Proctor took on the family’s financial obligations and was eventually successful in forcing the government to repay a portion of the money from the goods lost during the trials. The family also bought Proctor’s Ledge, the location in Salem where the condemned “witches” were hanged. A memorial was recently erected at the site.
For approximately two centuries after Proctor’s death, his descendants lived on the farm. Eventually, the house and acreage were sold, sometime in the mid- to late-1800s. Since that time, the home has passed through a succession of owners. “It hasn’t had that many owners,” Daniell advised. “Historically, that’s unusual. Property changes hands frequently, especially ones right on Lowell Street.” The late Vincent Raponi Sr. and his wife, Marion, purchased the property in the 1960s and preserved many of the home’s historical elements. Marion Raponi just passed away earlier this week. “They absolutely were the best caretakers,” she insisted.
Present day. Cipoletta said he purposely waited until October list the Proctor home because of the tourism traffic and interest Halloween brings to Salem and the witch trials history. An open house this past weekend drew some who were just interested in seeing the inside, he said. As of Tuesday, around 36,000 people had viewed the property listing online, and, considering the amount of shares it has received on Facebook, “that would be a record for me,” Cipoletta declared. Enquiries about the property have come from as close as the Peabody Historical Commission and Salem Witch Museum to as far away as people emailing from England. “It has been maintained practically as a museum by the current owner, who went far and beyond to maintain the home’s authentic, first-period feel,” he added.
From private to public? Former Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti, who currently sits on the city’s historical commission, said if there were to be a public offer on the property, the money could come from both the commission and historical society, plus grants and community preservation act dollars. “We are looking if it’s financially feasible to purchase the John Proctor House,” he explained.
If this happens, there would be opportunities to conduct additional research on the home, plus archaeological digs on the grounds, Daniell added. “The house itself is an artifact,” she said.
Sources: Arianna MacNeill, Real Estate Boston, October 10, 2018, and Trulia www.trulia.com/p/ma/peabody/348-lowell-st-peabody-ma-01960--2001204152
For additional information on John Proctor and the Salem witch trials, see:
“Ghosts of the Salem Witch Trials”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2734/ghosts-salem-witch-trials
“Hard and Forceful Punishment at Salem”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2460/september-1692-forceful-punishment-salem
“The Violent Wizards of Salem”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/7288/violent-wizards-salem
“Wonders of the Invisible World in Salem”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/4250/wonders-invisible-world-salem