Daily Archives: October 11, 2023

Sanctuary from Salem 2023

The last time I wrote that title—with another date, 1693—it was nine years ago and I was referring to Salem Witch Trials refugee Sarah Towne Clayes, who found sanctuary in Framingham, Massachusetts, the hometown of both of my parents. Her house was a decayed relic at that time, with little prospects of rehabilitation, but now it has been completely restored! You can see and read about it here: and kudos to the Framingham History Center and the dedicated preservationists who saved this important house. This time, the refugee is me: I have found sanctuary from Salem in my childhood home in York Harbor, Maine. The comparison references the title only of course: my situation hardly rivals Sarah’s, having lost her two sisters to the mob, running for her life. I feel a bit uncomfortable using the same title, but I also feel fortunate to have a place to live outside of Salem and I wanted to convey that feeling. I had to get out of town: away from the sonorous tour guide right outside my door, the haunted halloween party hall right next door, and all that trash and traffic and all those people in little black felt witch hats and Hocus Pocus t-shirts. I’m still working in Salem, so ironically I have developed just a touch more empathy for Salem tourists as I try to make my way back into town. Just a touch. On the other hand, I feel tremendous empathy for my fellow Salem residents who commute by car outside of town! I’m still working on my contributions to our Salem book (as well as a talk I’m giving at the First Church in Salem next week) so it’s still Salem most of the time, but during my down time I can walk or drive around York and see some beautiful scenery. So that’s pretty much this post: some of my favorite places in York.

Our house, a summer “cottage,” one of many built in the summer colony of York Harbor; the buildings of the Old York Historical Society  in York Village, and the First Parish Church.

The McIntire Garrison on Route 91, and one of many walking trails in York just down the road. Then it’s back to York Harbor, following the river.

A view in Cape Neddick, and more favorite houses–more coming!

York is HUGE, encompassing over 54 square miles according to the US Census Bureau. Even though I grew up here, I don’t know it that well, because it is so huge and because it has grown over the decades: when I was driving around last weekend I discovered lots of new developments and even a new road I knew nothing about. I always thought there were four distinct villages within York—-York Harbor, York Village, York Beach, and Cape Neddick—but apparently there is another, Bald Head. York was settled even before Salem and was the first incorporated city in America. I’ve got a lot of territory to explore and a lot to learn, so stay tuned over the next few weeks as I dig a bit deeper.


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