A 10 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath 6,661 square foot house with intricate wooden details, original windows, doorknobs, and marble fireplaces. Servant quarters with formal maid and butler pantries, a classic Mansard roof and grand staircase showcase the victorian era style of this mansion. With a team of 100 men, it took a year and a half to complete building. You would expect something like this to go up for millions, right? Well this house was sold in 2015 for $315,000, the same price as most three bedroom homes in the town of Gardner, Massachusetts where the SK Pierce mansion resides. This beautiful home was built all the way back in 1875 by a very wealthy owner of a manufacturing business named Sylvester Knowlton Pierce. His business was across the street from the home he built, and was the reasoning behind Gardner, Mass. being known as “Chair City”. It also supposedly housed very prestigious guests such as Calvin Coolidge (the 30th US president), Norman Rockwell (a famous painter), Bette Davis (a popular actress at the time), and P.T. Barnum (a politician and business man). So how exactly did this place turn into a destination for people investigating the paranormal?
Very unexpected and mysterious misfortune struck the Pierce family shortly after moving into the house. Pierce’s first wife died three weeks after moving in. She had somehow picked up a bacterial disease that ate her flesh. Years later, during a downfall in the economy, SK Pierce passed away, and the rivalry between his son Frank and his second wife who was two years older than Frank began. The house ended up being passed to his second wife, Ellen, instead of his eldest son. This was not customary during the time and it angered Frank greatly. Eventually, Ellen died and her three sons fought in court over ownership of the house, ending in her son Edward winning. He utilized the size by turning it into a boarding home. Activities such as prostitution, drinking, and gambling ended up taking place at the boarding home. Among the darker activities was death. Edwards two-year-old daughter he had with his wife Bessie passed away from influenza. There was also a boarder by the name of Eino Saari who passed away from smoke inhalation in his room, though it is widely believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion because the surrounding room had hardly any damage. Bessie also died in 1951 while the family occupied the home. Edward then lost the house in a poker game and a new owner took his place named Jay Stemmerman.
Jay Stemmerman didn’t last long in the house, he abandoned it somewhere in the 1980s and it sat like that for a near 20 years. It was filled with paintings depicting odd characters and scenes making people question what went on in the house. These paintings were discovered when the house was purchased in 2008 by Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero, they were only able to stand living in the house for two years. They experienced many paranormal incidents including a message from a spirit leading Otero downstairs to a kiln where there were bones identified to be that of a young child. There had been stories in the past of a young boy dying at the home though no such reports were ever filed by the police. Edwin claimed to have seen the apparition of a young boy at his side in his office, many have speculated that it could be the ghost of the mysterious possible death of one. A book came out about the couple’s experience called “Bones in the Basement” by Joni Mayhan.
After a short two weeks on the market, this haunted home was owned by Rob and Allison Conti. They bought this house because of the title it holds as the second most haunted home in Massachusetts, and they quickly turned it into an attraction. You can stay overnight or just visit for a paranormal experience of your own. Many guests there have reported a lot of strange activity. People have seen doors slam, full body apparitions accompanied by voices, furniture moving of its own accord, foul odors, and sudden temperature changes. There was even a guest who was said to have been pushed down the stairs by a ghost.
A group of people who investigate the paranormal went to visit the haunted attraction. They claimed to be able to feel the spiritual energy all over the house, which was also measured by multiple psychics using various tools. There were 25 people in the investigation that split into five groups of five people. Rooms such as the Red Room that were linked to some sort of tragedy were looked into. Colleen Costello was one of the psychics that were able to receive entities in many of the rooms. Specifically, in the Red Room, her group heard the spirit of a homicide victim using a spirit box. A spirit box is a device that uses radio frequencies to detect the voices of spirits. They also pinpointed and communicated with a nanny who had died in the house. The nanny would answer yes or no questions using lights but strangely refused to answer the one male in the room. Another room that they experienced strange events was the billiards room where they communicated with the spirit of P.T. Barnum. In the basement, Costello encountered a slightly angry spirit that had unresolved business issues with the Pierce family, from what the group understood it was about a false accusation. They realized the spirit was in the basement when the pendulum, a divination tool to detect said spirits, starting rapidly swinging.
Nicole Costello’s story doesn’t end there with the rest of the group though. She ended up spending the night and had more evidence of the paranormal. In the middle of the night, she reported hearing footsteps on the second floor which she was staying on. She later made sure it wasn’t one of the other guest’s footsteps, none of them had stepped foot out of their room that night aside from people on the first floor who never went up the stairs.
There are still so many unanswered questions about this spirit-filled mansion such as why is there a tunnel below the house? Also are there more deaths there than have been reported? Did the strange paintings of half-beast half-human figures mean something more? There are many theories for all of these questions including the use of dark magic, child labor, human trafficking, and more. Would you dare to spend a night in this beautiful haunted mansion?