Rebecca Nurse Homestead: Home of a remarkable story

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Verica Sitnik
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The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, and also a large monument which is settled over Rebecca Nurse’s remains, is located at 149 Pine Street, Danvers, Massachusetts. The house is a historical colonial building constructed around 1700.

Rebecca Towne Nurse was born on February 21, 1621, and was executed during the Salem Witch Trials on July 19, 1692. Around 1644, she married Francis Nurse, a tray maker who also made useful wooden household items.

Rebecca Nurse Homestead, historic colonial house. Author: Dave CC BY 2.5

The Nurse family had eight children and lived on a homestead which was part of the land that belonged to Townsend Bishop in 1636. Rebecca’s husband worked to gradually pay off the cost of the house over his lifetime.

The red facade of the house, Rebecca Nurse Homestead. Author: Daderot CC BY 3.0 

On March 23, 1692, public outcry greeted the accusations made against Rebecca Nurse, but she was nevertheless arrested. Rebecca was 71 years old, and she was one of the most elderly victims of the witch trial. Her trial began on June 30, 1692, and finished with a sentence of death on July 19, 1692. During her trial, Rebecca insisted that she was not guilty, and her words are remembered: “I am innocent as the child unborn…”

A fanciful representation of Rebecca Nurse’s trial by John R. Musick. 

After she had been hanged, according to the custom, her body was buried in a grave along with others who had been convicted, considered unfit for a Christian burial.Nurse’s family secretly dug up her body and buried her properly on their family homestead. Her descendants erected a granite memorial over her remains, and today it is known as the Rebecca Nurse Homestead Cemetery.

Old tools at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead house. Author: Daderot CC BY 3.0 

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead house is believed to have been built around 1700, though parts of it may remain from an earlier house on the same site dating from the 1630s that was built for Townsend Bishop. The house has a central entrance and a two-story First Period structure.

Interior view of one of the two rooms on the first floor. Author: Daderot CC BY 3.0 

The first kitchen in the house was added around 1720, then extended in 1850 and reconstructed in the 1900s. In the present day, the house consists of four rooms, two on the ground floor and two rooms above. There is also a central chimney. Behind the older structure stands the lean-to kitchen, which has a chimney. The Rebecca Nurse Homestead house has been extensively restored, but the walls, flooring, and beams are still original. Two older rooms and the lean-to are augmented with period furnishings.

Two older rooms are augmented with period furnishings. 

Another outbuilding on the land of the homestead was the home of  Dr. Zerubabel Endecott, the son of the Governor, built circa 1681 and demolished in 1973. Ruins of the structure may be readily seen. There is also a reconstruction of  Salem Village Meetinghouse on the grounds,  built in 1984 for the filming of the movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah. The Nurse Graveyard, a dairy shed, and shoemaker’s shed are also a part of the property.

Rebecca Nurse Homestead – Danvers. It is believed that the house was built ca. 1700. Author: Daderot CC BY 3.0 

In 1992, there was a ceremony to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the trials. The remains of George Jacobs, another victim of the witch trials, were reinterred there. After Rebecca’s death, her great-grandson Francis occupied the house, marching from it to the Battle of Lexington. The Putnam family took possession of the house from 1784 and owned the house until 1908.

The house has been extensively restored. Author: Jessica CC BY 2.0

The house was restored the same year by the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association. The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities took the house as a donation in 1926. The property was transferred to the Danvers Alarm List Company in the year 1981.

Interior of the house of Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Salem, Massachusetts. Author: Dave CC BY 2.5

Today, the property is still in possession of the Company, and during the warmer months is open to visitors. The property is linked to Historic New England, as the Stewardship Easement Program protects it.