New England is laden with haunted tales and supposedly haunted places — from private residences, to city halls, to buildings people refuse to occupy as a result of sinister energy.
Many of these places have hosted ghost hunters and paranormal investigators over the years who have documented hair-raising noises, inexplainable orbs of light and human touches with no human to be seen.
We’re highlighting seven supposedly haunted spots around New England as we enter October and the season of Halloween. At one house, a detailed injury waiver is required to enter. At another, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see a samurai and monk congregating in a French gothic ballroom. And driving under one particular covered bridge could end in a real fright for the driver.
While some of these places are open to the public, others are private residences.
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S.K. Pierce Victorian Mansion – Gardner, MA
Mediums and paranormal researchers have pronounced this Victorian mansion as “certified haunted.” Built by wealthy South Gardner chair manufacturer Sylvester K. Pierce in the late 1880s, the Sci-Fi Channel series “Ghost Hunters” filmed an episode there.
“This attraction is not for the faint of heart,” the mansion’s website says. “There is a good possibility that you will witness paranormal activity. The entities in this mansion are extremely advanced and have demonstrated a unique ability to impose their will ‘physically’ on guests.”
For this reason, a detailed injury waiver must be signed before guests enter the mansion, which has seen many different owners. The mansion is currently undergoing renovations before it reopens for tours and overnight stays.
Many ghostly residents have been reported, including S.K. Pierce himself, his family members, a nanny named Mattie Cornwell, a murdered prostitute, a young boy, and several others, the website says.
John Paul Jones House – Portsmouth, NH
This historic pre-Revolutionary War-era house is a staple stop on guided haunted walking tours in downtown Portsmouth.
The house was built in 1758 as a wedding present from sea captain Gregory Purcell to his wife, Sarah Wentworth Purcell. John Paul Jones, a Naval commander on the USS Ranger, rented a room twice at the house from Sarah throughout his lifetime, after her husband died, before he left Portsmouth forever in 1782.
Several manifestations reportedly exist in the house, including a white, pale female apparition looking out the windows of the home, thought to be Sarah Purcell. And though he died in Paris, John Paul Jones himself has been seen wandering the halls.
Many staff members and visitors have reported haunted experiences over the years since the home opened as a museum, owned by the Portsmouth Historical Society and open for tours.
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Captain Lord Mansion – Kennebunkport, ME
This federal-style 1812 home, built by a wealthy shipbuilder, has been made into a romantic and elegant seaside inn with antique accents at every turn. But guests, staff and owners alike have had personal experiences with a resident female spirit, Phoebe Lord, according to HauntedHouses.com.
Phoebe was the lady of the house, married to Captain Nathaniel Lord, with whom she had eight children. The captain died not long after moving into the home, and Phoebe raised their family there after he died. The mansion stayed in the family for generations after.
Phoebe is often seen floating around the mansion, sometimes transcending the spiral staircase or passing through the present-day Lincoln Bedroom Suite.
A former resident of Belcourt Castle wrote a book about all of the paranormal experiences that have occurred at the grand 60-room mansion over the years.
Construction on the mansion began in 1891, built for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a wealthy banker, publisher and politician. Other residents have included 1950s Newport socialites Louis and Elaine Lorillard, who hosted the Newport Jazz Festival there in 1955 and 1956. Ruth and Harold Tinney bought the mansion in 1956 as a private residence and home for their exotic furnishings.
Harle Tinney, who married their son and lived in the home, believes the antique furnishings brought paranormal energy with them, she has said.
HauntedHouses.com says 15 known spirits have been identified at Belcourt Castle – including a monk, knight, Samurai warrior, dancing girls and a French queen and king. The most haunted room seems to be the French Gothic Ballroom.
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Emily’s Bridge – Stowe, VT
Perhaps different from the others on this list, this haunted attraction in Vermont is an 1844 covered bridge. A broken-hearted girl is said to have hanged herself there, and she now haunts it, according to Atlas Obscura.
Legend has it that in the mid-1800s, a girl named Emily was supposed to meet the man of her affection at the bridge to elope, but he never showed up. She allegedly hanged herself from the rafters of the covered bridge, and is today said to be an angry specter that terrorizes drivers and pedestrians.
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Providence City Hall – Providence, RI
“Ghost Hunters” visited Providence City Hall in 2012 after an employee called on them to check out the 1875 building. The episode was called “City Hell.”
Employees have alleged it’s haunted by a spirit who rides the elevator, moves chairs, creates breezes, whispers, touches people, slams doors, opens drawers and smokes cigars, according to HauntedPlaces.org. Some have speculated it’s the ghost of former mayor Thomas Doyle, who served the city starting in 1864 and ultimately died while in office.
According to the Tavern’s current owner, the ghosts are Lysander Walker, a recluse who shot himself in the sitting room on Oct. 3, 1928, and Mary and Elizabeth Williamson, two little girls who died of scarlet fever in the house in the 1700s. Walker’s death certificate hangs in the restaurant today.
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Restaurant staff says they’ve had quite a few creepy encounters – including lights going out unexpectedly, hearing voices of little girls, and even a choking diner getting a helping hand from an apparition. Diners should never worry, staff say, as the spirits appear to be friendly.