Autumn in New England is one of the best times of year to visit one of the prettiest parts of the US. But let’s face it. With a hint of chill in the air and the crunch of dead leaves under your feet (oh wait…was that something you heard rustling in the near distance?), heading to New England during the fall season can lead to some pretty hair-raising encounters. Perhaps spookiest of the New England states is Massachusetts, where a fascinating and sometimes bizarre history amounts to just the sorts of chills and thrills to make for a most memorable Halloween.
If you’re looking to get spooked in the Bay State then check out our guide to Massachusetts’ historic haunted places you can actually visit.
Don’t get us wrong, Boston is an awesome city. But some seriously creepy stuff has happened there over the years. There’s the 17th century Granary Park Burying Grounds where three signers of the Declaration of Independence – Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine – are buried. Patriot Paul Revere’s remains are here as well, and it is said his spirit (on horseback even!) can be seen traversing this ancient graveyard’s narrow paths.
Need a proverbial hand to hold and someone else to deal with the pesky logistic of seeing this and many more supposedly haunted sights around town? Consider booking a night out with Ghost & Gravestones Boston Frightseeing Tour. The tour takes you raround the city in an Old Town Trolley stopping along the way to point out Boston’s “most chilling murder sites and haunted places.”
In north central Massachusetts, not too far from the New Hampshire border, is Gardner. Aside from once being celebrated as “Chair City” and “The Furniture Capital of New England,” Gardner’s biggest claim to fame (or is that infamy?) is the SK Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion. This 7,000 sq ft, 10-room mansion built in the 1880s was once (and perhaps still is) the home of Sylvester Knowlton Pierce, a wealthy businessman and owner of the successful SK Pierce and Sons Furniture Company.
After Pierce’s death, his company and his mansion suffered decline. It is said that a prostitute was strangled in one of the house’s bedrooms and that an immigrant guest was burned alive in another. There are tales of a small child drowning in the basement as well. These and other stories are considered by many as reasons for many ghostly sightings and odd occurrences tied to the property’s history – including full body apparitions, moving furniture, sudden and drastic drops in temperature, and more.
These days, the house is open to the public as a haunted attraction. You can even spend the night there. But guests must be willing to sign a waiver to enter. And as much as it’s now a popular entertainment option, the accounts of paranormal activity here and its gruesome past cannot be denied.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
So goes the well-known poem about Fall River, Massachusetts’ most notorious residents: Lizzie Borden. Back in 1892 at the age of 32, Borden was accused of hacking to death her father and stepmother with an axe. Although widely thought guilty by the general public, she was found innocent went put on trial with no other suspect ever being prosecuted. The origins of America’s original axe murderer remain a mystery to this day!
If you’re up for looking for clues into the murders, consider paying a visit or even booking a room at the actual southern Massachusetts house where the brutal murders took place. That’s right! The former home of the Borden family is today the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum. The eight-room Victorian House B&B welcomes overnight guests and visitors to its museum daily.
And then there’s the north coast city of Salem, that’s never quite managed to shake its 300-year-old association with the witch trials of 1692 when 20 innocent residents were executed for supposedly making a pact with the Devil. These days, locals make the most of their macabre heritage as best they can and aim to shine a light on the tragic happenings. The city’s even become something of a hub for people interested in the supernatural and witchcraft.
Attractions around town that help visitors learn about the trials include the Salem Witch Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, and the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (aka the Witch House). There’s also a Witch Trials Memorial, which includes 20 granite benches inscribed with the name and date of each execution, historical walking tours, and an array of bewitching shops, and more throughout the city.
Are you attracted to spooky locations? If you love the feeling the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then book your ghoulish getaway right now!