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Houghton Mansion

North Adams Transcript 10-31-05

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North Adams Transcript Article

Waking Spirits - Ghost Hunters Investigate Mansion - Gillian Jones - North Adams Transcript - Monday 10-31-05 

NORTH ADAMS -- The Masonic Temple on Church Street is not just haunted, it's "extremely haunted — to put it mildly," says Maureen Wood, a psychic medium with the New England Ghost Project, on Saturday.

If so, the spirits at the former Houghton Mansion apparently weren't happy to have ghost-hunting guests Saturday night: Wood passed out after she said an upset entity, possibly former owner Albert C. Houghton, drained her of energy. The encounter was in a second-floor bedroom believed to be that of his daughter, Mary Houghton, who was killed in a car accident more than 90 years ago. Wood said she recovered quickly, partly with the help of her close friends, who practiced reiki, a stress-reduction therapy, on her.

About 45 paranormal enthusiasts attended the workshop, sponsored by the New England Ghost Project, at the Masonic Temple on Saturday night to learn how to investigate the paranormal and to discuss their experiences investigating the historic mansion, the former home of the Houghton family. The building is often cited as one of the county's most haunted places.

'Ghostbusters'

As the "Ghostbusters" movie theme played, the project's Executive Director Ron Kolek; Karen Mossey, an electronic voice phenomenon specialist, and Wood entered a darkened room filled with workshop participants. Kolek began the evening by showing photographs taken by himself and others that he believed captured images of ghosts on film. Some of the images where blurry with streaks of lights and other anomalies that he said could not be explained. Other photographs included images of faces of unknown people that were apparently not visible when the photos were taken.

Mossey presented several different examples of EVPs, which are recordings that capture unexplained voices on tape, including one of her deceased father and another of her dead son. She also showed a clip from the horror movie "White Noise," in which a man believes his dead wife is trying to communicate with him through the white noise of television and radio. Mossey's commentary about EVPs was included on the film's DVD; the EVP of her father and son also were included in the video and the film. Wood shared her personal experiences as a medium.

Tragic history

According to a history of the mansion by local historian Paul W. Marino, which was available at the workshop, Houghton, who was the first mayor or North Adams and president of the former Arnold Print Works, built the home in the late 1890s. Houghton lived in the house with his wife, Cordelia, and their youngest daughter, Mary.
In 1914, tragedy struck the family when Mary and a family friend were killed in an accident during a pleasure drive in the family car on Oak Hill Road in Pownal, Vt. While the chauffeur, John Widders, was not charged or held responsible for the accident, he apparently blamed himself and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in the cellar of the Houghton's barn. Mr. Houghton never fully recovered and later died. The mansion stayed in the family until the late 1920s, when it was bought by the Masons, which added on a lodge building.

At the end of the workshop, participants toured all four levels of the home, including the basement, with film and digital cameras and EMF (electromagnetic field) meters that are supposed detect energy possibly resulting from supernatural activity.

Getting chills

As they walked through the house, EMF meters could be heard beeping and some people said they felt chills and drafts in certain parts of the house.

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