sites of public execution


In the early 20th century, Winter Island was the center of a flourishing fishing industry off the northern coast of Salem, MA. Today, Winter Island is a quiet recreation area where people come to picnic, boat and listen to music during the annual summer blues festival. However, there is a strange lawn sign in front of the large green on the island, naming the area "Execution Hill".

Bryan Sheehan was one of many executed here in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1772, approximately 12,000 people turned out for his hanging on Execution Hill, adjacent to the remnants of the former Coast Guard administration building. Just before being hanged for rape, Sheehan admonished the assembled multitudes to avoid falling in the wrong crowd, noting that had been his downfall.


Site of Public Executions by Hanging
18th - 19th century

(Execution Hill, Winter Island, Salem, MA)

20 x 21", 2007