Haunted Pierce Mansion
Listed as the number two most haunted home in all of New England (which is no small feat considering the history of the area) and the ninth most haunted house in the United States, the Pierce Mansion is a haunted house for the ages. Constructed in the late 1880s, the Pierce Mansion sits as one of the area’s oldest and most paranormally active homes. Located in Gardner, Massachusetts, just over an hour from Boston, the home was built by successful businessman Sylvester Pierce after he achieved great fortune as the owner of the S.K. Pierce and Sons Furniture Company. His business’s success led to the entire city of Gardner being known as ‘Chair City.’
Massachusetts’ Haunted Victorian Gem
Sitting upon his hordes of cash, Sylvester Pierce decided it was time to build himself and his family a mansion that fit a man of his public stature. Situated on 4 W. Broadway Street, the mansion that followed was an architectural marvel for its time. It was nearly 7000 square feet and had ten bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 11-foot ceilings, and marble fireplaces throughout. It took over a year and a half for 100 construction workers to build. Hand-carved moldings and décor are seen throughout the entire home. Meticulous detail was number one to Sylvester Pierce, and each corner of the house is more ornate than the last, with extreme detail from the bathrooms to the servant’s quarters. Those who visited the home for dinner parties include former President Calvin Coolidge, Bette Davis, P.T. Barnum, and even Norman Rockwell. The home also served as a well-known meeting place for the secretive Freemason Society.
Tragedy Befalls The Pierce Household
Sylvester, his wife Susan, and their son held big hopes when moving into this one-of-a-kind home, but those dreams fell apart when just weeks after moving in, Susan Pierce mysteriously succumbed to a bacterial illness. After a year of mourning, Pierce married a woman named Ellen, a woman 30 years younger, and had two more children. Both Susan and Sylvester didn’t spend much time in their mansion, unfortunately, as Sylvester passed away himself a few years later in 1888, leaving behind his new wife and their three sons. When Ellen herself passed away years later, the three Pierce sons began to bicker and argue about ownership of the furniture business. The Great Depression ended up stifling the business, and eventually, Sylvester’s youngest son Edward took control of the mansion.
Hard times hit the family, and the fortune began to dwindle. Edward turned the mansion into a boarding home to bring in some extra income, where unsavory activities began to occur, such as prostitution, gambling, and heavy drinking. Even tales of murder arose from the saddened home, with a story of a prostitute being strangled in the infamous red bedroom on the second floor. Another tragedy was reported as well when a boarder, a Finnish immigrant named Eino Saari, burned to death in the master bedroom in 1963. Some believe that spontaneous combustion occurs in the home and is what caused Saari’s death, considering there was minor damage to the surrounding rooms. Yet another death occurred when reports of a young boy who was drowned in the basement began to surface.
What is it about this mansion? Could it be that its very first weeks were filled with misery, sickness, and death? Over the following years, guests of the mansion suggested that it is overflowing with paranormal activity. Boarders have encountered the spirits of Sylvester Pierce, his wife, and their son Edward. The alleged murdered prostitute, her murderer, a young boy, and a young girl have also been reported throughout the Pierce Mansion. Over the years, and in different owners’ hands, seven reported deaths have been documented in the home.
Paranormal Happenings At the Pierce Home
Guests have experienced it all here; you name it, the Pierce Mansion has provided it. Everything from voices, chanting, full-body apparitions, moving furniture, slamming doors, temperature changes, shadow people, foul odors, screens flying off of the windows, footsteps on the stairs, and an ominous lion’s roar that shakes the house have all been reported. Many believe that the roar comes from Sylvester Pierce’s spirit to show his displeasure with the home and how his life there turned out. He sees others enjoying the mansion, while he and his family had nothing but heartache here. Some visitors have felt the pressure of hands pushing against them; one visitor even reported the feeling of being pushed on the stairs, while another reported they were almost forced out of a third-floor window. Paranormal experts who visit the mansion have said that the entities here are some of the most powerful they have witnessed. They are capable of harnessing the electrical power in the home and use it to move large objects.
More recently, a woman named Lillian moved into the home with her husband Edwin, unaware of the history. Just a few weeks following her arrival, she began to experience strange and unexplained things within the walls of Pierce Mansion. She started to hear chants and whispers, which soon turned into screams and banging on the bedroom walls. They began to see apparitions in the halls, which beckoned them and called their names. The house had already made a paranormal name for itself, and a paranormal investigation group came in and asked the spirits here who the owner of the house was. Unsurprisingly, the ghosts here responded with ‘Lillian.’
Video evidence of the hauntings at Pierce Mansion are scattered throughout the internet, and a quick google search will bring up pages of investigative evidence.
A plethora of paranormal investigative teams have been to the mansion, including Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and My Ghost Story. Investigators have borne witness to the most hair-raising phenomena, such as disembodied voices saying that they would like to ‘squeeze every throat.’ The most concerning aspect of the haunting seems to be the foul odors detected by visitors all throughout the mansion. It’s well known in the paranormal world that foul and sulfur smells are linked with negative and sometimes demonic entities. Could the old home just have a strange smell? Of course, but with all of the happenings here, one begins to wonder why the home attracts such tragedy. Is the land the home sits upon cursed? Was Sylvester Pierce himself cursed? Could his wife’s death and the sadness that followed just have left an extremely negative energetic imprint on the home? It seems as if when talking of the haunted Pierce Mansion, we are left with more questions than answers. Perhaps our questions can be answered when we look to an insider’s view on what life in the mansion was like. A book named Haunted Massachusetts and Bones in the Basement: Surviving the SK Pierce Haunted Victorian is a book written by Joni Mayhan, who chronicles the previous owner’s experiences from within the home. The book truly tells the tale from the homeowners’ perspective, from the feelings they got when buying the home to the horrifying experiences they had while living inside it. If you’d like to learn about other haunted places in Massachusetts, check out our Haunted Inns in Massachusetts article as well as our Haunted Massachusetts road trip blog!