Two years ago, when we relocated to North Adams from Austin, TX – A close friend in Texas remarked – “Hey, North Adams – that’s where the Houghton Mansion is!” Houghton who? I grew up in North Adams and I’d never heard of this place and its ghostly past.
The Neo-Classical Revival Style mansion was built in the 1890s by President of the Arnold Print Works and first Mayor of the City of North Adams, Albert Charles Houghton. The Houghton family moved into the home in the early 1900s. In 1914, Albert Houghton purchased the family’s first car, a 7 person Pierce-Arrow touring car, and sent their longtime family chauffeur, John Widders, to learn to drive it. Shortly thereafter, in that same year, on an August morning, Albert Houghton, his daughter Mary, and visitors Dr. and Mrs. Robert Hutton of New York, decided on a pleasure drive to Bennington VT. Chauffer Widders was at the wheel and in Pownal VT while avoiding a horse-drawn construction crew, the Pierce-Arrow slipped on the road’s soft shoulder and tumbled down an embankment. Mrs. Hutton died instantly and Mary a few hours later. All of the men survived the accident. Widders, though exonerated of all wrongdoing, blamed himself and at 4 am on the morning of August 2nd, he shot himself in the head in the cellar of the Houghton home. Mr. Houghton, bereft, died a few days later on the 11th of the month.
The mansion is said to be haunted by both Albert and Mary Houghton, and the darker, John Widders. The Mansion, now a Masonic Temple hosts events throughout the year including midnight tours, overnight stays and séance investigations. The Houghton Mansion Halloween Event on October 26th includes all of these plus special workshops, visitors and more.
Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, is also said to be haunted and October programming there includes Friday night ghost tours and a Special Saturday Night Spirit Ghost Tour on October 19th.
Other Berkshire County haunts include the Hoosac Tunnel and Mt Greylock’s Bellows Pipe Trail – The Old Coot. There are no tours associated with these haunts – but you’re welcome to visit – if you dare. The foliage is sure to be vibrant.