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Houghton Mansion

Berkshire Eagle 10-31-05


Houghton Mansion is Studied - By Jack Dew - Berkshire Eagle - Monday 10-31-05 

NORTH ADAMS -- Faces of the dead showing up in third-story windows, mysterious lights in empty rooms and disembodied footsteps on the stairs. These sights and sounds have all been reported as evidence of the haunting of Houghton mansion, an aging Victorian building that has stood on Church Street since the 1890s and is now the home of a Masonic temple.
On Saturday night, about 30 people paid $35 each for the privilege of hunting ghosts in the aging building. They began with a crash course in paranormal detection from representatives of the New England Ghost Project, a group based in Dracut that has hunted ghosts and the paranormal in buildings around the region.
Sitting on folding chairs in a darkened ballroom, the audience watched a presentation explaining the basics of hunting a ghost, using devices that detect electromagnetic fields, or digital recorders to capture voices.

They saw pictures taken with infrared or digital cameras that the Ghost Project's Ron Kolek said showed evidence of the paranormal. Kolek pointed to a hazy spot on the screen that he said was the image of a little girl the group found in a house in Massachusetts. "We asked her if she would move, and she said 'I don't think so.'"

But he reassured the crowd that they don't have to do a ghost's bidding. "Tell them to go away," Kolek said. "You've got to remember, this is your house, your world. They are no longer a part of it."
The audience heard voices caught on tape that Karen Mossery, the Ghost Project's specialist on Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, said had been imprinted by ghosts or spirits.
Houghton mansion was the home of Albert Charles Houghton, who was North Adams' first mayor. According to the history of the building kept by the Masons, his daughter was killed in a car accident and his chauffeur, John Widders — who had been driving — committed suicide in the cellar of the Houghton barn, apparently overcome by guilt. Albert Houghton, who had apparently escaped the accident without serious injury, died nine days later.
The New England Ghost Project investigated the building in September 2004 and concluded that it is haunted. Several of the North Adams Masons have started their own organization, the Berkshire Paranormal Project, and conduct ghost hunts of their own.
Saturday's audience was mostly full of those who already believe. Maureen Anglin, and her son, Conor, had toured a Charleston, S.C. jail where Conor said he had seen the ghost of a man who had been tortured. Maureen — a self-described psychic and medium — said she was so overcome by the energy of the ghosts that she had to leave the room.
"It's interesting. The photographic evidence is interesting," she said of last night's conference. "I'm familiar with EVPs, I have them on my answering machine quite frequently."

Joshua Mantello, the Berkshire Paranormal Project's founder and lead investigator, led a group up the mansion stairs to the little-used third floor, an electromagnetic field meter in front of him. Its red light flashed, and the device beeped occasionally, and Mantello would pause to try to determine whether it was a ghost or just interference from a nearby electrical outlet or light socket.

"The paranormal has become mainstream," he said. "There is 'Ghost Hunters' on (the) Sci-Fi (channel), 'Most Haunted' on Travel Channel, and now TLC has a show. It's hit the mainstream. We have always heard that this place is haunted, so we thought, 'let's get an investigation going.'"

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