Eight Real Haunted Houses in Massachusetts
Unfazed by Spooky World and other manufactured haunted houses? These historic properties are for you.
Lizzie Borden House — Fall River
This two-and-a-half story wood frame house in Fall River was once home to Andrew Borden, his daughters Lizzie and Emma, and Andrew’s second wife, Abby. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby were found hacked to pieces. Both of their heads were brutally bludgeoned—Abby was discovered upstairs, and Andrew on the downstairs sofa.The murder weapon and mutilated victims suggested this was a crime of passion, and Lizzie’s stoicism at the crime scene quickly made her a prime suspect. She was charged with three first degree murder counts, but was found not guilty, leaving the grisly murders “unsolved.” The ghosts of the Borden family are said to roam the halls; if you’re unlucky enough to reserve a room in the murder scene-turned bed and breakfast, you may even hear Lizzie’s murmurs.
S.K. Pierce Mansion — Gardner
Sylvester Pierce once oversaw the renowned S.K. Pierce and Sons Furniture Company in Gardner, Massachusetts. In the 1880s, he began construction on his dream home—a 7,000-square-foot mansion with 10 bedrooms, which took nearly two years to complete. But what was once a promised land soon became hell. Pierce’s wife, Susan, died of a bacterial illness weeks after moving in. In 1888, Pierce passed away in the home. In 1902, his second wife, Ellen, succumbed to cancer. The Great Depression drained the remaining family’s fortunes and the mansion became a boarding home for various unsavory activities—it’s said that a prostitute was strangled to death in the red bedroom on the second floor. All of these individuals, and more, supposedly remain in the house today. Guests have been known to hear voices, witness full-body apparitions, and even be pushed by unknown forces. You definitely won’t need that Ouija board to contact these former tenants.
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn — Sudbury
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn is America’s longest operating inn—its original section was built by tavern owner David Howe for his wife. In 1716, they expanded their home and opened the Howe Inn. The inn remained in the family until the death of Lyman Howe in 1861. Jerusha Howe was Lyman’s sister and the business’ last Howe landlord. She was a beautiful woman, and famous for rejecting suitors. But she couldn’t resist the English traveler who fell for her during his stay at the inn. When he left, he promised to come back for her, but Jerusha never saw him again. Now, she remains in her bedroom (Room 9) waiting for her lover to return.
Thaddeus Clapp House — Pittsfield
Built in 1871 by Thaddeus and Lucy Goodrich Clapp, this house was renovated into a bed and breakfast by a woman named Rebecca Smith. During renovations, she commissioned playwright Peter Bergman to write and direct a play that would take guests through each room of the house on opening night. During rehearsals, actors encountered the ghost of a woman with black hair and a bright red coat. The holidays are a particularly busy time for these ghostly inhabitants; guests have reported glowing rooms and unexplained temperature changes. New guests will soon find out what paranormal activity this Halloween will bring.
The Mount — Lenox
In 1901, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton bought 113 acres of land in Lenox and built the Mount, where she and her family lived for 10 years. She was an avid collector of ghost stories, and now her home has become a hub for happy haunts. Past tenants and visitors to the estate tell of ghostly sightings of men and women in period dress as well as Wharton herself reading. You never know who, or what, you’re going to find on a tour through this historic house.
Joshua Ward House — Salem
The land beneath Joshua Ward’s mansion was once home to Sherriff George Corwin, known as “the Strangler.” At the height of the Salem witch trials, Corwin hanged several men and women in his jail. The sadistic warden was known for his creative methods of torture, one of which included tying a prisoner’s neck to their ankles until blood spilled from their nose. In 1697, Corwin died of a heart attack, and his body was left in the basement for years in order to protect it from mutilation by his enemies. It is believed that many of his innocent victims still wander the land looking for revenge. And reports of visitors being choked by an unknown entity demonstrate that Corwin is still grasping for authority.
Ventfort Hall — Lenox
Ventfort Hall was built in 1893 by George and Sarah Morgan, the sister of powerful banker J.P. Morgan. The 28,000-square-foot Gilded Age “cottage” has 28 rooms, including 15 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms. In the 1980s, when the Ventfort Hall Association began renovations on the mansion, the spirits of its many tenants awoke to join the party. Visitors have since reported hearing footsteps in the halls, smelling sweet perfume in Sarah’s dressing room, and seeing figures dressed in 1920s garb. George, who was a womanizer in his day, has been known to attract female visitors to his library.
Houghton Mansion — North Adams
On August 1, 1914, Albert C. Houghton, his daughter Mary, and members of the Hutton family climbed into Albert’s brand new Pierce-Arrow car and made their way to Vermont under the direction of newly trained driver, John Widders. Thirty minutes into the trip, they came across a construction crew in Pomal, Vermont. In his attempt to drive around them, Widders sent the car tumbling down a steep embankment. All but Mary were thrown from the vehicle, and Mrs. Hutton died instantly when it rolled over her. Hours later at North Adams Hospital, Mary succumbed to her fatal injuries. Early the next morning, unable to forgive himself for the accident, Widders shot himself in basement of the mansion. Nine days later, Houghton died of a broken heart. Paranormal activity reports suggest that Houghton will not abandon his favorite home, and Mary is keeping her promise to always care for her father.