Nestled into the peaceful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts is the Houghton Mansion, the third home of North Adam’s first mayor, Albert Charles Houghton, President of the Arnold Print Works, the largest printing and dying works in the world. His wealth built the town from the once small village of Houghtonville to the city today.
All was right in Houghton’s world until a leisurely ride in his new Pierce Arrow automobile into nearby Bennington, Vermont, on August 1, 2014, turned to tragedy and became the reason why the Houghton Mansion is one of the five most haunted locations in Massachusetts.
Houghton Mansion: A Brief History
John Widders, a family friend and caretaker of Houghton’s horses, also became the family’s chauffeur after being instructed how to use these new ‘horseless carriages.’ So, Widders, Houghton, his daughter Mary, and family friend Sybil Cady Hutton began their journey to Vermont.
After coming upon a crew working on the narrow mountain road that was not designed with cars in mind, Widders attempted to go around the workers and hit the road’s soft shoulder, which later gave way and sent the car rolling down the steep embankment. Sybil Hutton died at the scene. On route to the nearest hospital, Mary Houghton succumbed to her injuries and died on the way. Widders and the elder Houghton suffered only minor injuries.
Although Widders suffered only minor physical injuries, emotionally, he felt responsible for the deaths, and his body was found a few days later in the barn behind the mansion, his death the result of a gunshot wound to his head. Houghton never emotionally recovered from the tragedy either and died in the mansion ten days after his daughter’s death, some romantically say of a broken heart. However, closer to the truth is that his injuries were more significant than previously thought. And on the day of his funeral, every mill, office, and place of business in the city closed.
After the death of Mr. Houghton, one of their surviving daughters, Florence, moved into Houghton Mansion with her husband to look after Mrs. Houghton. Two years later, in 1916, Mrs. Houghton passed away.
In 1926, Houghton Mansion was sold by the surviving Houghton
daughters to the Lafayette-Greylock Freemasons, who turned the site into a Masonic Temple and erected a lodging house on the spot where a formal garden once stood. However, after struggling to maintain the 25,000-square-foot mansion, the Masons were forced to sell the building in 2017. It was purchased by hotel developer Benjamin Svenson for $160,000.
Paranormal Activity and Evidence
Local and national paranormal groups have investigated the mansion over the years, not the least of these being Zak Bagans and the crew from the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, as well as Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters.
The first phenomenon noted was reported by the Masons, back from the start of their ownership of the mansion until the sale, who witnessed many supernatural occurrences, including footsteps and doors slamming.
For example, one Mason explains that he was waiting inside the mansion near the side entrance hall on a snowy day. He heard the side entrance door open and close and heard the sound of footsteps walking in. He checked and saw the snowy footprints on the ground in the hallway leading away from the door, as one would expect. But, mysteriously, no one was in the house, and no one tried to enter that door.
Mary Houghton’s room is a paranormal hotspot, where one Mason says they had previously caught EVPs of ghostly screams, as well as the command “GET OUT!” Similar EVPs have been captured on the third floor of the mansion too.
On the third floor, where the butlers and maids lived, a full-bodied apparition was seen standing at a doorway at 11:00 pm. People who visit that floor have left crying because of the dark energy there. A photograph of the mansion shows a ghostly face staring out the third-floor window; many have seen this apparition while walking by the house.
Interestingly, the lights in this third-floor room don’t work because the electrical fixtures in the room are dead. Still, people living in homes nearby report that they have seen the lights on in this room at night, one of the many reasons the Houghton Mansion is one of the five most haunted locations in Massachusetts.
- Apparition: A faint, dark shadow quickly and briefly moves on a wall, sets off the motion-sensing alarms set up in the hallway, and vanishes.
- Residual noises: Yelling, footsteps, doors slamming, doors squeaking, shuffling, and clanging
- EMF Fluctuation/Residual noise: The EMF Detector spikes up when a little girl’s yell is heard. Seconds after the outcry, several more unexplained spikes are received.
- Apparition/Temperature fluctuation: A small mist that appears in midair with a sudden temperature drop (from 75°F to 64°F) and which is recorded on an infrared camera.
- EVPs: “Ran for help”
- Shadow figures in the hallways
- Orbs appear in photographs.
- Flashlight responded to binary questions asked of Mary’s ghost
- EVP’s in Mr. Widder’s room
- Rem Pod responds to questions in Mary Houghton’s room
- Disembodied voices
- Little girl in the basement plays with toy triggers
- Knocking on walls
The Houghton Mansion has remained vacant since it was purchased in 2017. There are rumors the new owners will transform the mansion into a hotel, and ghost tours have temporarily ceased. Still, according to townsfolk, the ghosts haven’t left, which is why the mansion is one of the five most haunted locations in Massachusetts. They’re simply waiting for the subsequent transformation of the estate to resume their hauntings.