The Second Empire Victorian Mansion sits on the corner of West Broadway and Union Streets, looking every bit the haunted house. Built in 1875 by furniture magnate, S.K. Pierce, the three-story mansion is truly a work of art. With twenty-six rooms, a widows walk rising high above South Gardner, formal butler and maid pantries and beautiful hand-carved woodwork, the house is a true original. Like a grand dame years past her prime, the house has seen a mixture of history and tragedy. It’s also one of the most haunted houses in the country. After chasing out the previous owners, the house is now for sale once more. Do you have what it takes to live in a haunted house?
Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero purchased the house in 2008, hoping to fill it with beautiful antiques, while they restored it to its former glory. Lillian always loved Victorians, ever since she was a child, and owning the house was a dream come true for her. They knew the house was supposedly haunted, but they scoffed at the rumors. Neither of them believed in ghosts. The house would soon prove them wrong.
Shortly after moving into the mansion, they began experiencing strange occurrences. Footsteps were heard in empty rooms and dark shadows moved overhead without cause or explanation. Footsteps pounded down the grand staircase and a piano played on its own. Their dogs were hesitant to leave their sides, refusing to walk up the grand staircase. The first time they brought family members over to show off the house, a large planter moved across the floor in front of them, seemingly of its own accord.
(Photos above by Frank Grace: TRIG Photography)
The week they moved into the house, Edwin had his first glimpse at one of the ghosts that haunted the mansion. As he was setting up his home office in a room that had once been the Pierce nursery, he saw something out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to look, a ghostly man with dark haunted eyes was standing directly in front of him. Edwin jumped backwards, nearly falling on the floor, but when he turned back around, the apparition had vanished. Things would only get worse from there.
(Photos above by Frank Grace: TRIG Photography)
During their nearly two years in the mansion, they experienced more of the mysterious apparitions, along with doors slamming in the middle of the night, items disappearing and reappearing in other locations, as well as items being thrown across the room. Perhaps the most chilling prospect though, was the ghostly inhabitant’s ability to overtake the living.
(Photo above by Jason Baker Photography)
Lillian’s experiences with the resident ghosts always differed from Edwin’s. Once she embraced the possibility of the haunting, they began to touch her on a deeper level. Instead of scaring her, like they often did with Edwin, they approached her emotionally, taking advantage of her maternal nature. She began to envision them as children. As she opened herself up to them, they took full advantage of the situation.
Most paranormal investigators know that darker energies often mask themselves as children, hoping to gain the trust of the living. In Lillian’s case, the ghosts sent her on a mission to the dark basement to dig in an old kiln where she found several old bones, one of which was identified as a child’s pelvic bone. After she was overtaken a second time, where she was paralyzed in a three-day fugue state and was later pinned to the bed by invisible hands, the couple had enough. They fled the mansion. The accounts of their two-year experience, along with the history of the house and documentation of the haunting can be found in my book, Bones in the Basement, published in 2014.
The house has been vacant for two years now, watched over by a caretaker who checks the rooms several times a week. Proceeds from my book went towards roof and ceiling repairs, to keep the house protected from the elements. While a bevy of mediums have attempted to cleanse the house of spirit energy, many of the ghosts still remain, also documented in the various paranormal television shows the house has appeared on, including SyFy’s hit show, Ghost Hunters, Destination America’s A Haunting, and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures.
(Above: Joni Mayhan’s book: Bones in the Basement)
My hope is that the future owners who purchase the house can complete the repairs to the aging structure, while embracing the ghostly inhabitants who linger inside. Perhaps someone will turn it into a haunted bed and breakfast, giving the public a chance to experience the hauntings for themselves.
What does the house have to say about itself? Listen to the ghostly voice captured on a digital voice recorder in the basement.
If nothing else, prospective buyers should know what they are getting themselves into. The house is a beautiful piece of Gardner history, but it comes with an added bonus. It’s filled to the brim with ghosts.
Listing for the house: http://www.estately.com/listings/info/4-west-broadway–5#
You can check out Joni Mayhan’s paranormal masterpiece Bones in the Basement below.