Schooled by Ghosts at the Houghton Mansion

2015-07-19 03.32.11

It was to be my fifth investigation at the Houghton Mansion, which meant that my intrigue level was fairly low. I was well-versed on the history and had a good idea what to expect. While I was excited to be returning to one of my favorite haunts, I was looking forward to the social aspect more than the actual haunting. I would be in for a shock. My fifth visit was a wild ride I will never forget.

On previous visits, I investigated with like-minded investigators, eager to seek out the truth and experience the haunting firsthand. I wasn’t disappointed. While conducting an EVP session in the basement of the mansion, I saw a partial apparition materialize before my very eyes before it darted across the room and disappeared. This trip would be different. I would actually learn something about ghost behavior.

The Houghton Mansion is a somber place with a sad story.

In the spring of 1914, A.C. Houghton took several friends and family members for a pleasure drive in their new Pierce-Arrow Touring Car. When the car hit a soft shoulder of the road, it tumbled down the steep embankment, rolling over three times, killing Houghton’s daughter Mary and her childhood friend, Sybil Hutton. Feeling immense guilt over the accident, the driver of the car, John Widders, a long time friend and servant of the Houghton’s, put a gun to his head three days later and ended his life. Mr. Houghton died ten days later, possibly from undiscovered injuries incurred during the accident. Most of them never left the mansion.

In 1920, Houghton’s surviving daughter sold the mansion to the Masons, who built a tremendous Temple behind the house. The mansion has been under the care of the Lafayette-Greylock Lodge ever since, adding another layer to the haunting.

Since my last visit, I began teaching a Paranormal 101 class in the town of Gardner, Massachusetts, located 75 miles west of the mansion. Through the classes, I’ve met several talented psychic mediums who agreed to attend the Houghton Mansion investigation with me.

I have a theory that the ghosts at haunted locations usually follow the strongest medium during investigations. If they wish to communicate, they have a better chance at cutting right to the source, instead of being forced to navigate through tricky equipment to get their message across. This proved to be true at the Houghton Mansion, as well. While our group experienced ample activity, the other group didn’t have the same experiences.

I co-hosted the event with Jason Stanton, host of Ghost Chat Radio and author of several paranormal books. Since eleven people showed up for the investigation, we divided into two groups. My group consisted of Ken Murray, a budding psychic medium with immense talent, Dianne Truax, an experienced psychic medium, as well as Barbara Niles, Patricia White, Chantel Szlesok, and Lynda Szlesok, who were all developing sensitives.

While we spent the night investigating all the hot spots and gathered ample evidence, the three locations where I actually learned something were in the basement, in Mary’s room and in a third floor room filled with lockers used by the Masons.

The Basement

2015-07-19 07.59.17

I knew there was a dark entity in the basement of the mansion. We encountered him there several times before and saw him in the form of dark shadows moving in the darkness. There was also supposed to be a little girl there who answers to the name Laura. While the Houghtons had a daughter named Laura who died at the age of three, many aren’t convinced this is the same little girl. They theorize that the mansion was built on an existing foundation, so the ghost of the child could belong to the first house that sat on the property.

As we came into the basement, our adrenaline was running high. The mansion’s basement is downright creepy. It looks like it could be featured in a horror movie without needing any additional props. We went to a central room to the right of the staircase where most of the activity has been reported. I started my recorder before we entered the room, knowing that I might catch the ghosts off guard.

The chairs are arranged in a loose circle, which makes it easy for conducting EVP sessions. As we selected our chairs, I captured this chilling EVP of an entity giving us further instruction.

Before beginning the session, someone in the group needed fresh batteries. It’s not uncommon for investigators to discover their brand new batteries drain down to nothing in haunted locations. It takes energy for ghosts to communicate, and they will often pull energy from the batteries in our equipment. While the investigators were swapping out batteries, I caught this EVP.

As we settled into the session, the mediums in the group could feel an energy building. The darkness grew to epic proportions, filling the room with a sense of anger and loathing that even the non-mediums could feel. At one point, one member of the group became so overwhelmed with the dark energy, she needed to remove herself from the building to recoup her energy.

Once the session started up again, I began seeing a dark shadow pacing back and forth in front of a doorway (pictured above). I called several other investigators over to watch it and they saw it too. Typically when this happens, the activity comes to a grinding halt, but this time was different. The dark shadow person continued to pace back and forth for a full five minutes, allowing all of us to witness it. Unfortunately, none of us had a night-vision camera to capture it with. I’ll be adding that item to my wish list ASAP.

2015-07-19 05.46.37

Mary’s Room

While we had amazing experiences in all the rooms, perhaps the most interesting part of the evening for me was the exchange going on in Mary’s room. According to our psychic mediums, there were two women and a man in the room. The woman was fairly quiet, but the male was vocal. When Ken asked Mary if she rode side-saddle, knowing she was an avid rider, the male responded with “probably.” Then, he added an insult to the mix. “Fat bastard!” he said.

The insults weren’t contained to just Ken though. When Dianne asked who the woman was, the male spoke up again, saying, “slut.” Was he talking about the female entity or was his insult directed to Dianne?

Dianne commented that the woman was standing in the corner. She kept trying to get a reading on her, but the woman was illusive. Dianne knew she was an older woman, but she couldn’t glean much more from her. As soon as she made the comment, a male voice on the Spirit Box responded with, “It’s that poor bitch.” Was he talking about the female entity in the room?

When Ken mentioned that he no longer felt the male presence, but still felt the female, it appears that the male attempted to coach her. “You need to cloak,” he said clearly.

I find this interesting on several levels. First, who was the woman in the corner? When we detected the male, he quickly disappeared. I always thought that when they vanished like that, they actually left the room, but apparently I was wrong. Are they capable of cloaking themselves?

The second curiosity is the word he used: cloak. To me, it’s a word straight from an episode of Star Trek. I guess I figured that the afterlife would have their own special words for what they do, but this man was apparently once a Trekkie. Does this strike anyone else as being a bit surreal?

This brings me to the third interesting factor: the male ghost is probably not one of the Houghtons. For him to be aware of the terminology from a show that aired in the 1960s, he must have either lived in our time period or watched it on the mansion’s television. I might be making the wrong assumptions, but I just can’t envision A.C. Houghton camped out in the library room, watching old Star Trek reruns.

2015-07-19 08.38.29

The Locker Room

There is a room on the third floor that’s filled with old wooden lockers. We were told by Dave, one of the mansion’s caretakers, that the Masons used to use the room to change into ceremonial robes.

The minute we entered the room, our two mediums felt a sense of anger.

“They don’t like us up here,” Dianne commented. Ken was quick to add to her statement.

“They don’t like any of us up here, but they especially don’t like women in here,” he said.

It made perfect sense. Since the mansion was taken over by the Masons in the 1920s, the majority of the house became a male domain. While females were allowed in some of the public areas, they weren’t allowed in spaces the Masons felt were sacred areas. This included the locker room where they dressed.

Chantel asked if they wanted us to leave and a male voice responded with, “If you could.”

One of my mentors told me that there are often layers in a haunted location. One layer might be from one time period, while another layer could be from a different era. In some locations, they interact with one another but in others, aren’t aware the other layer exists. This seems to be the case in the Houghton Mansion, as well.

While we were talking to the angry Mason, a little girl was trying very hard to get our attention. In the audio clip below, you can hear her saying “Yohooo!” If the Masons objected to female investigators in the room, why would they let a little girl run around unless they didn’t know she was there?

I love going on investigations where I learn something and the Houghton Mansion didn’t let me down. I will certainly return to the mansion again and again, hoping for more insight.

For more information about the haunted Houghton Mansion, please visit their Facebook page by clicking here.
Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 11 books, including Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World,  Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector and Bones in the Basement, all available on, as well as and Smashwords. Click on any of the covers below to learn more about each of her books.

Dark and Scary Things- A Sensitive's Guide to the Paranormal World cover Devil'sToy Box  bones-in-the-basement-cover-small  The_Soul_Collector_Cover_for_Kindle

Can Pets See Ghosts?


The dogs knew the house was haunted long before the owners did. Wendy and Nina, two tiny white Maltese dogs, would stand at the bottom of the grand staircase at the Victorian mansion and growl.

Edwin Gonazalez and Lillian Otero had purchased the gothic looking Second Empire Victorian mansion, also known as the S.K. Pierce House, months earlier and were eager to move into their beautiful home. Reports that it was haunted didn’t bother them, because they weren’t believers. This would change in a matter of months, but the dogs were one of the first indicators.

“They would wake up in the middle of the night, growling at the hallway, absolutely fixated on something I couldn’t see,” Edwin said. He’d open his eyes to scan the dark hallway, afraid of what he might find. On several occasions, he saw a black shadow mass move across the doorway, blocking out the lights in the hallway.

Can our pets actually see ghosts?

Christina Tregger Achilles, co-founder of New England Paranormal Observation Science Technology (NE POST), had a similar experience at the S.K. Pierce House with her dog Sierra, a tiny fawn-colored pug.

“Our friend Ben caught her on camera, reacting to things that were happening upstairs. She would be sleeping soundly, then would wake up and stare at the third floor stairs just before something would bang or bump,” she said after touring the mansion with co-founder, Chris Cox.

“She continues to sense things. I catch her watching something as if she’s watching a tennis match,” she added.

Are they seeing or hearing something we can’t? While there aren’t any hard facts to support the concept that dogs and cats can see ghosts, it has been documented that they do have much keener senses, making one wonder what they are capable of picking up on.

While it’s not proof, their vision is very different from ours. It is geared towards movement to assist them in hunting, also allowing them to see better in low light situations. Cats also have a better grasp on colors at the red end of the spectrum, allowing them to differentiate between blues and violets better than we can.

Also consider the use of full spectrum cameras on paranormal investigations. Researchers using these cameras, which photograph a broader array of the color spectrum than what can be seen with human eyes, often capture strange shapes and anomalies in the photos. Is this what our pets are seeing?

And they can also hear better than we can, lending more truth to the concept.

A dog can detect sounds that are well beyond the spectrum of human hearing. While humans typically hear sounds from 12Hz to 20,000 Hz, a dog can hear nearly four times greater, in the 40Hz to 60,000 Hz range. If you don’t believe this, just blow on a dog whistle or download an app for your smart phone and test it yourself.

When I tried this, I was dismayed to discover that I could only hear up to 12,000 Hz. But when I pressed the button at the 20,000 Hz range, every pet in my house sat up to look at me. Is it possible that spirit communication transpires in a frequency that is either above or below the range we can hear?

It has long been speculated that ghostly phenomena exists at a different plane of existence. Researchers collecting EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) will often record spirit responses on digital recorders that cannot be heard by human ears at the time they are recorded. A true EVP response will not be heard at the time the question is asked, but will be captured on a digital recorder, suggesting that spirit communication is conducted at a higher or lower range of the audible spectrum, something we as humans cannot hear, but our pets might be able to.

People have been reporting this occurrence for years.  Nick Mantello, co-founder of the Berkshire Paranormal team, is one of the caretakers for The Houghton Mansion. Located in North Adams, Massachusetts, the three-story mansion has been featured on many paranormal shows, such as the SciFi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, as well as the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. When he visits the mansion for routine visits, he often brings his dog Kronk with him.

Kronk often stares at the corner in the Masonic Temple, a building that is still used by Freemasons of the Layfayete-Greylock Lodge. Kronk often stares and then barks in areas of the mansion where paranormal activity has been captured. One of his least favorite areas is a corner of the Lodge in the Masonic Temple.

“I’ve told people this story about the corner of the Lodge. The dog just don’t like it,” he said. He captured Kronk’s reaction on the video link below.

The stories are endless. Sandra Chase, an avid paranormal enthusiast had an experience she recently shared with me. Her husband passed away in 2007. He was fond of playing computer games and would often pet their dog while he was playing.

“About three months after he passed, the dogs and I were in the living room. Rags was sleeping on the rug. All of a sudden, she got up and went over to the computer chair, put her head under the arm, and started wagging her tail,” she said.

Is this proof of paranormal activity?

Unfortunately it’s not, but it’s something pet owners will continue to pay attention to. Until dogs and cats are able to tell us what they’re seeing, we’ll always be left guessing. Some of us don’t need proof to understand what is happening.

“They just know,” Lillian Ortero said.

I have a tendency to agree with her.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of The Soul Collector, which is an account of her most terrifying paranormal experience.  Find this book and her others on