Visit… if You Dare!

  • Vicky Tippawong
  • Posted on September 6, 2022

Murdock Whitney HouseDo you believe in ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night? You just might be able to see — or feel the spirit of one — in Winchendon this fall!

The Isaac Morse and Murdock Whitney homes — owned and managed by the Winchendon History & Cultural Center — will present an Evening of Overnight Paranormal Investigation with Drag Queen/Paranormal Investigator Monique Toosoon in October.

There has long been talk of ghostly sightings or sensations in these historic buildings, and professional paranormal investigators have periodically visited the Murdock Whitney and Isaac Morse houses in search of paranormal experiences. The properties, which were built in 1775 and 1850, respectively, are said to contain the spirits of their former owners. The youngest child of the Morse family, and the only son, met an early demise at the age of seven.

According to the WHHC, “Everything from disembodied footsteps to haunting music emanating from the walls end even full-body apparitions have been reported at these locations. A ghostly woman is said to wander the property and become ‘extremely agitated’ when people enter her bedroom, and objects have been seen to move by themselves.”

murdock whitney houseOn October 30, Monique Toosoon, Drag Queen and Paranormal Investigator with “a kiss of sensitivity,” will bring an array of ghost hunting equipment and “plenty of sass” to the mansions. Only 20 tickets are available for the event, and guests are encouraged to bring sleeping bags, air mattresses or cots if they are brave enough to plan on sleeping over.

The most courageous guests will also have the chance to undergo a solo vigil in the dark on the third floor. Reportedly, even staff refuse to visit the third floor alone.

This just might be an experience you’ll never forget!

Eerie Experiences

Since being settled in the 1700s, communities throughout this region have had their share of unsettling experiences… leading to tales of ghostly sightings and paranormal encounters.

One of the most familiar stories is that of four-year-old Lucy Keyes, who wandered from her home in Princeton in 1775, never to be seen again… at least, not alive. Night after night, Lucy’s mother Martha scoured the woods, calling for her daughter. The child’s disappearance devastated the family; Martha died in 1786, never knowing Lucy’s fate, and reportedly driven to near insanity of the loss.

But the story doesn’t end with the passing of the Keyes family. There are those who, to this day, swear they have heard Martha’s voice calling for her lost daughter in the woods and report seeing unexplained child-sized footprints in the snow.

Such stories abound amid the historic graveyards and homes of North Central Massachusetts. And whether you believe in ghosts… or are skeptical… you might just want to learn more about the darker sides of life in early New England.

The Winchendon History and Cultural Center, of course, is a good place to start. The two mansions, both open for visits, are said to be haunted. You can even stay overnight — the Isaac Morse house is now a bed and breakfast where you (and maybe a ghostly “friend”) can enjoy all the comforts of (haunted) home.

The fiji mermaid at the SK Pierce MansionIn Gardner, the S. K. Pierce Mansion, a looming 10-bedroom Victorian at 4 W. Broadway, is well known locally as the Haunted Mansion. Once the home of local industrialist Sylvester Pierce, the mansion has been through many owners and many uses — from a Mason hall to, reportedly, a brothel — since being built in 1875, and has been vacant off and on, as some owners felt unable to live with the resident ghosts.

The S. K. Pierce Mansion has been restored in recent years with an eye toward being open for tours. The historical/paranormal tours begin September 15; reservations can be made online at skhauntedvictorianmansion.com. And a Special Guest Tour — one night only — has been scheduled for October 8, with former Mansion resident Victoria Casanova recounting her many experiences while living in the eerie home. A limited number of tickets are available on the website.

But if you’re not quite ready to experience apparitions, but would like to learn about the lives and daily struggles — and some of the tragedies, wars and pandemics they faced —of local residents, head to Templeton on October 28 and 29 for a “haunted walk” through the town center and into the Revolutionary War-era cemetery with the Narragansett Historical Society. You just might feel the cool touch of a visitor from long ago on the nape of your neck as you stroll amid the old slate gravestones!