We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
What began in 1693 as a respectable Massachusetts settlement eventually became a town with an extremely bad reputation. After much of the town was abandoned in the early 1800s, vagabonds and seedy sorts began to move into the abandoned buildings. The area was also known for its population of stray and feral dogs. As time progressed, there were rumors that residents of Dogtown had begun to practice witchcraft and that curses were being placed on traders venturing near the town by Thomazine "Tammy" Younger, also known as "Queen of the Witches." To top it off, there are odd words and phrases carved into boulders surrounding the town. Today, the remains of Dogtown are held in trust by neighboring towns and are open to hikers and wanderers. The rumored witches may be gone, but who knows what they may have left behind in the woods.
2. Mordecai Lincoln Mill, Scituate
This abandoned and locked mill has a horrifying past and a spooky present. After the drowning of a young girl in the adjacent pond, numerous passerby have reported seeing the figure of a child standing in the windows, sometimes scratching at the glass panes. There have also been documented reports of screaming and cries for help coming from the mill and nearby pond.
3. Spider Gates Cemetery, Leicester
Also known as Quaker Cemetery and "The Eighth Gate to Hell," this burial ground has been around since 1740 and gets its name from the odd designs on its gates. Local legends assert that the cemetery may be a gate to another dimension and eerie tales about the burial ground are many. A young boy is purported to have hung himself from a tree in the cemetery, satanic rituals are said to have been conducted on a stone area called "The Altar," and there are the usual reports of ghostly sightings and strange noises.
4. Metropolitan State Hospital, Waltham
A psychiatric hospital that opened in 1930, this place has a reputation for unpleasant methods and conditions. Doctors in the hospital's Gaebler Children Center were said to have heavily medicated child patients and disciplined them brutally. In 1978, patient Anna Marie Davee was murdered by another patient, Melvin Wilson. Two years later, Wilson showed police the places on the hospital grounds where he had buried pieces of Davee's dismembered body. This place was part of the inspiration for "American Horror Story: Asylum."
5. Taunton State Hospital
Opened in 1854, the most terrifying resident in this Massachusetts asylum may have been Jane Toppan, a serial killer who admitted to killing over 31 people while working as a nurse. Many also reported a "shadow man" who would crawl on walls and observe the patients. Sounds like a restful place of healing to me.
6. The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River
"Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." This macabre rhyme will be familiar to anyone who has grown up in the Massachusetts area. In 1892, Lizzie Borden of Fall River was tried and acquitted for the gory murders of her father and mother. Her guilt has long been debated, with many believing that she did indeed carry out the killings. The story of Lizzie Borden and a visit to the scene of the murders is just the kind of grisly thing to fascinate and terrify thrill-seekers. Many visitors have reported feeling ill upon staying in the home, citing an oppressive feeling and a sense that they are being watched. The very brave can rent a room for the night in the infamous Borden house and test their courage.
7. Hoosac Tunnel, North Adams
You know a place is cozy when its nickname is "The Bloody Pit." This railroad tunnel took 25 years to complete, during which time 190 workers were killed. After the tunnel finally opened 30 more people lost their lives in various freak accidents and mishaps. An explosion killed an additional 13 miners, bringing the death toll up to almost 250 people. There have been reports of ghostly figures and phantom lights seen within the tunnel.
8. The Houghton Mansion, North Adams
Another one for North Adams. The Houghton mansion has been called the scariest place in New England. It was named for Albert Charles Houghton, a former mayor of North Adams who built the house in 1890. Ever since Houghton was mortally injured in a car accident and died of his wounds on the property, there have been countless reports of spectral voices, footsteps belonging to no one, and flickering lights. It doesn't help that Houghton's driver shot himself on the house grounds, supposedly out of guilt regarding the car accident that killed his employer. Walking tours of the house are available for $5.
9. Fort Revere, Hull
This military fort was in use from the Revolutionary War all the way to World War II. Decommissioned in 1947, many have reported strange noises and shadowy figures lingering in doorways.
10. USS Salem, Quincy
This decommissioned war ship has been counted among the most haunted naval vessels in the world. It served as a hospital after the 1953 Ionian Earthquake and entire rooms of the craft were used to house the stacked bodies of the dead. The ship has been investigated by several paranormal television shows and is a must-see for fans of the supernatural and nautical life alike.
11. Danvers State Mental Hospital
This hospital was the setting for the movie Session 9 and the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft's "Arkham Sanatorium." What was originally meant for be a hospital for 600 patients eventually came to house over 2,300 mentally ill individuals. Such incredible overcrowding meant that conditions were dirty and staff could not keep up. On numerous documented occasions, patients would die in their rooms and would not be discovered until days later. Danvers is sometimes considered the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy due to the extent to which it was practiced and refined there.
12. Freetown-Fall River State Forest
Also called "The Cursed Forest of Massachusetts," this place is truly creepy. The list of things reported to go on here is dizzying: blood sacrifices, UFOs, ghosts, black helicopters, mysterious orbs of light, strange disappearances, giant snakes, poltergeist activity, murders, and on and on. Ronald Reagan reported seeing strange lights in the sky here and there have been an inordinate amount of documented suicides in these woods. Also interesting are the reports of sightings of Pukwedgies, humanoid creatures from Wampanoag native tradition.
13. Cutler Majestic Theatre
This is one of the oldest theatres in America and has its fair share of haunted happenings to match. There are reports of a married couple that haunt the theatre as well as a little girl who will accept hidden gifts left by patrons. Perhaps the creepiest part of this spot is a room called "The Nightmare Room." Once inside, visitors often state that they feel extremely uneasy and experience difficulty breathing.
14. Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded
The Belchertown Town State School was built in 1922 to serve the mentally ill and became known for its inhumane conditions. Patients were sometimes left strapped to their beds for days at a time and staff sometimes removed patients' healthy teeth to make feeding them easier. The school was also infested with vermin. Today, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
15. S.K. Pierce Mansion, Gardner
In the market for a house? You may want to consider this property in Gardner. The owners are selling this massive victorian 10-bedroom home for a mere $350,000. The reason? Ghosts, of course. From drowning to death by fire and even murder, this house definitely has spectral potential.
You never know what ghastly spot could be lurking just around the bend of a familiar road. What are your favorite creepy Massachusetts places or urban legends?