History of the Haunted Houghton Mansion in North Adams

The history of the haunted Houghton Mansion dates back to the 1890s when it was commissioned by Albert Charles Houghton, the first Mayor of North Adams, Massachusetts. Mr. Houghton was a business magnate who owned several companies such as the Houghton Chemical Works, Parker Mill, North Pownal Manufacturing Company and more notably, Arnold Print Works. When North Adams was incorporated as a city in 1895, Mr. Houghton was unanimously voted as the first mayor of the town.

albert charles houghton portrait
Albert Charles Houghton | Image credits: Wikipedia

The lavish Houghton Mansion was Mr. Houghton’s third home in North Adams, and undoubtedly the largest and most expensive one. Built in a Neoclassical Revival style, the structure featured numerous Greek architectural elements such as etchings and engravings. The roof was cladded with Spanish tiles while the building’s facade was overlaid with clapboards.

Mr. Houghton and his family—his wife Cordelia and his youngest daughter Mary—were believed to have moved in around 1900.

On August 1, 1914, Mr. Houghton and his daughter Mary were touring the outskirts of North Adams in their car when they were met with an accident. The car had rolled down a steep slope and rolled over three times before coming to a stop right outside a farm. Mary and her childhood friend Sybil Hutton succumbed to their injuries and passed away on the same day. While Mr. Houghton had escaped with minor injuries, he died ten days later in his own bedroom, reportedly from a broken heart. Stricken with guilt, the Houghton family’s chauffeur John Widders killed himself with a horse pistol a day after the fatal accident.

houghton car crash 1914
Photo of Mr Houghton’s car crash in 1914 | Image credits: paulwmarino.org

After the death of Mr. Houghton, one of her surviving daughter, Florence, moved in to Houghton Mansion with her husband to look after Mrs. Houghton. Mrs Houghton passed away two years later in 1916.

In 1926, Houghton Mansion was sold by the surviving Houghton daughters to the Lafayette-Greylock Freemasons, who turned the site into a Masonic Temple. A lodge house was erected on the spot where a formal garden once stood. The Masons later opened up the mansion to paranormal enthusiasts who are willing to pay for a night in the haunted building.

houghton mansion meeting room
Main meeting room used by the Masons | Image credits: Laura Merwin

In recognition of the building’s significance to the history of North Adams, in 1985, Houghton Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

However, the Masons struggled to maintain the 25,000-square-foot mansion. After owning the historic building for over 90 years, the Masons was forced to sell the building. In 2017, Houghton Mansion was purchased by hotel developer Benjamin Svenson for $160,000.

Hauntings at Houghton Mansion

Today, Houghton Mansion is reputed to be the most haunted place in North Adams. Visitors exploring the haunted building have reported hearing the voices of a man and a lady, who are said to be Mr and Mrs Haughton. On numerous occasions, shadow figures have been spotted roaming along the mansion’s common area. Visitors also claimed to have felt an overwhelming sense of sadness at Mary Houghton’s room.

Apart from the Houghtons, the mansion is also believed to be haunted by former residents of the site. The mansion was built upon the existing foundation of a home built prior to the construction of Houghton Mansion. The basement is said to be one of the most haunted spot in the entire property. In particular, the ghost of a young girl can often be seen walking across the basement and fading into the walls.

houghton mansion basement
Basement in the Houghton Mansion | Image credits: Laura Merwin

The enigmatic activities held by the Masons are believed to have attributed to the unearthly events happening in this historic building. Several Masons who have spent time at Houghton Manson have also reported unusual activities that cannot be explained. In one incident, two Mason was spending the night in the lodge when they heard the side door of the building open and shut on its own, and stomping sound. Believing that their members had arrived, they went to receive them. However, no one was there, neither were there footprint in the snow.

Over the years, numerous paranormal investigations have been conducted in the mansion. This includes the hosts Zak Bagans, Nick Groffs and Aaron Goodwin from Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, as well as Southern New Hampshire-based paranormal investigation group Spectral Visions Paranormal. During the investigation by the Ghost Adventures team, the group experienced inexplicable events such as loud footsteps from the empty rooms, cold spots, and electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recordings.

Tours at Houghton Mansion

As of October 2021, Houghton mansion is no longer open to the public for tours. Prior to the sale of the mansion to a real estate developer in 2017, the building was opened to the public for guided tours. For a small fee of $5, tourists could enjoy a tour of the property and visit the various facilities built by the Masons. This included a tour of the third floor, which is said to be an active spot for the paranormal.

houghton mansion facade
Houghton Mansion | Image credits: Spectral Visions Paranormal

After the sale, Houghton Mansion was kept off limits to the public. For a period, sections of the property was used by local restaurants as catering kitchens as well as for the storage of equipments.

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