If you like stories about things that go bump in the night, you’re living in the right state. Massachusetts is lousy with ghost stories, and some of them are backed up by actual historical events or verifiable facts. We’ll leave believing in ghosts up to you, but you can’t argue that the stories below are enough to give you a serious case of the goosebumps.
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:
1. The Hull Mystery Buggy
In March of 1902, a mysterious vehicle rolled through the streets of Hull at midnight. It moved without clattering or making any kind of sound at all, and was spotted by the very staid and unsuperstitious Captain Joshua James. The buggy appeared to be heading towards Nantasket, and the captain followed. The buggy eventually disappeared into the sea mists.
On a subsequent evening, one Stillman D. Mitchell reported seeing the ghostly carriage between 11:53 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., who not only signed a statement swearing to the truth of his account, but reported his creepy encounter to the Boston Globe.
2. Mordecai Lincoln Mill Haunting, Scituate
This unassuming mill building on the side of a road in Scituate has a surprising history and shockingly dark past. It was built by Mordecai Lincoln in 1692. This fellow was actually Abraham Lincoln's great-great-great-grandfather. However, things at the mill took a turn for the ghastly in the mid-1800s. A young girl playing in the adjacent pond accidently slipped into deeper water and drowned behind the mill. Since then, passerby have reported hearing a child's screams coming from the mill and seeing a small figure pressed against the glass of the upper windows. There have also been (somewhat more dubious) reports of small, child-sized wet footprints on the pavement in front of the mill.
3. Theodore's/Smith's Billiards, Springfield
This old-fashioned pool hall is housed in a 118-year-old structure that is rumored to be incredibly haunted. Reports of balls rolling across the tables on their own, whispers in the corners of the hall and full-body apparitions. Employees say they've experienced quite a few scares around the establishment, and this place was even investigated by the Ghost Hunters crew.
4. The Lizzie Borden Haunting, Fall River
We all know the story of how Lizzie Borden gave her parents between 40 and 41 whacks with an axe in 1892 (though in reality, the victims were not hit nearly so many times), so it's no surprise that reports of hauntings at the Borden estate go back almost as far as the date of the murders. Creaking floorboards, the sounds of muffled cries and an ominous presence are all said to be common occurrences in this home. The brave can rent a room for the night and test their courage.
5. The Lady in Black, Fort Warren
The Lady in Black is one of Massachusetts’ most famous hauntings. The legend goes that Mrs. Melanie Lanier of South Carolina traveled to the fort to rescue her Confederate soldier husband. When the pair were caught sneaking out of the fort, Melanie fired an old pistol at the guards. The weapon exploded and sent a deadly shower of shrapnel into her husband’s head, killing him. She was hung on George’s Island on February 2, 1862 in a set of long black robes. The Lady in Black is said to roam the grounds of the fort to this day, moaning and even giving chase to terrified visitors.
6. The Houghton Mansion, North Adams
This one is truly spooky. The Houghton Mansion has been called the scariest spot in New England, the history of the place backs up that reputation. Built in 1890 by Albert Charles Houghton, former mayor of North Adams, life on the estate turned grim when Houghton was killed in a car accident. His driver was allegedly so overcome with guilt that he shot himself on the house grounds. Both deaths are confirmed, and visitors often report ghostly voices, the feeling of being touched and flickering lights in empty rooms.
7. The Ghost of Eunice Williams, Greenfield
For Greenfield locals, this ghost story is a classic. The legend goes that during the verifiably real Deerfield Massacre of 1704, when the English settlement of Deerfield was raided during the French and Indian War, a large group of townspeople were rounded up and marched out of the village. Eunice Williams had just given birth, and collapsed from exhaustion by the river. She was killed in the water, and it is said that her ghost still haunts the area that the bridge now spans. She reportedly appears to motorists on dark nights.
8. The Deerfield Inn, Deerfield
Built in 1884, this historic inn has had plenty of time to rack up ghostly encounters. The structure is supposedly haunted by two spirits. One is said to be the ghost of the former owner of the inn, Cora Carlisle. She is reportedly quite harmless, and there are even reports of rooms being tidied by the ghost while guests lie asleep in their beds. The other spirit is named Hershel, and he supposedly loves to wreak havoc in room 148.
9. The Irish Mourner, Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline
Few things could be creepier than hearing the sound of ghostly wailing, but that's just what many visitors to Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline have reported over the years. The story goes that a local Irish mother would come to the cemetery and sing a mournful song in Gaelic for her lost son. After her own death, the bereft mother lingered and kept on singing. The eerie phenomenon began sometime in the 1880s, and there have been quite a few reports of the ghostly wailing since.
10. Harold Parker State Forest Haunting
Located about 20 miles north of Boston, this lovely forest takes on a more sinister reputation after dark. It was once the site of an 18th-century community of farmers, and the ruins of their homes and boundary markers can still be found in the woods. Historical records also reveal that there are a large number of unmarked graves scattered across the park. As if this wasn't creepy enough, hikers have reported spotting a spectral, weeping woman walking out of the waters of Berry Pond. This apparition may be tied to a historical account of a young woman drowning in the area after being overcome with what may have been a seizure, but was interpreted at the time as demonic influence.