A Salem witch trials home finds new life 325 years later

The Peter and Sarah Clayes home was saved after 20 years of court battles over the deed

There’s much talk about “witch hunts” in the headlines lately, but a relic from an actual witch trial is now on the market for $975,000.

The 4,253-square-foot, five-bedroom Framingham, Massachusetts, estate was once home to Peter and Sarah Clayes, the latter of whom was accused of being a witch during the infamous 1692 Salem witch trials.

The home’s back porch, which overlooks a 150-year old mill.

The trials were sparked by the reports of three girls, the daughters of a prominent reverend, having “fits” that included contortions and outbursts. The three girls said three townswomen had cursed them, and the trials soon began.

Eventually, over 200 people were jailed for witchcraft including Sarah and her sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty. Nurse and Easty were executed, but Massachusetts governor William Phipps stepped in and banned any further arrests, pardoned the accused and had them released from jail, including Clayes.

After her release in 1693, Sarah and her husband, Peter, settled on 35 acres of land that would become Framingham.

The living room and original fireplace.

The current structure dates to 1776, and according to an Associated Press interview with Framingham History Center executive director Annie Murphy, little of the Clayes’ original 1693 home is left.

In an interview with Inman, listing agent Peter Ferrini explained that the process of getting the Peter and Sarah Clayes house on the market has been a 20-year journey, filled with foreclosures and legal battles over deeds and titles.

“It was like the haunted mansion if you will,” he said. “It was open to the elements, windows were missing, there were walls that were open to the outside, the yard was overgrown, it was really a wreck.”

The original plaster stenciled walls.

Then, in 2015, Goldman Sachs released the deed, and the Framingham History Center was able to take over the property. The Center then created a special division for the home and began fundraising for its restoration, which included repainting the home, preserving the original floors, woodwork, plaster stenciling, and claw-foot bathtubs, and adding modern features, such as an A/C system and walk-in closets.

The home’s modern kitchen.

The home is now designated as a single-property historic district in Framingham and has been added to the Historic New England preservation roster.

“We had our first public open house this past Sunday, which had approximately 60 visitors,” Ferrini said. “Everyone was absolutely taken with the property and cannot believe the resurrection.”

“I think many people had passed the house for many years and always wished that it would be restored and cleaned up,” he added. “It’s just come back to life. When you can buy a property that is 300 years old and move into it and it lives and feels and flows like a brand new home, that is just phenomenal.”

Ferrini said whoever the new owner will be must be up to the task of living in a home with a historical designation, which requires that some features, such as the plaster stenciling and the facade, be left alone.

“You have to educate your clients on the scope of the items that will be protected and how it will affect them and the future of the property,” he said. “They’re actually quite manageable once people understand them.”

Email Marian McPherson.