New England is home to some of America’s oldest buildings, and there are countless ghost stories to accompany that story. And this is particularly true on the North Shore, where the dead have stories that date back to the 17th century.
With Halloween here, let’s take a look at some of the places you can visit on a North Coast Ghost Tour:
Located at 11 Brown Square and built in the early 19th century by shipbuilder Moses Brown, the Garrison Inn has one of the longest histories of any building in Newburyport. It also has a reputation for being haunted.
Brown Square House – which was actually two row houses – was converted into a boarding house in 1849 and later renamed after journalist and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1922.
Over the past century, guests have claimed to have witnessed the presence of Moses Brown, his granddaughter Sarah White Banister and a mysterious baby girl.
On the hotel’s website, in response to the question of whether the place is haunted or not, the FAQ section simply reads, “That’s if you want it to be.”
If you like very, very old haunted houses, Georgetown’s Brocklebank Museum has a treat for you.
The house was built in the 17th century and belonged to Captain Samuel Brocklebank, whose family were among the first to settle in the area. In 1755 Dudley Tyler bought the property from the Brocklebank family to turn it into a tavern. Ten years later, Solomon Nelson bought it and turned it into a tavern until his son, Major Paul Nelson, made it into a store in 1811.
Author and anti-slavery activist Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother, Reverend Charles Beecher of the Old South Congregational Church, purchased the property in 1858.
The property is now a small, city-owned museum and is home to the Georgetown Historical Society at 108 E. Main St.
Another old house turned into a museum is the Parson Barnard House at 179 Osgood St. in North Andover. Built in 1715, the house belonged to Pastor Thomas Barnard, minister of the nearby North Parish Church.
The Andovers played a big part in the witch trials of 1692, with more people on trial for witchcraft here than in Salem, and Parson Barnard has spoken out against the procedure.
The following ministers lived at Parson Barnard House, which was converted into a summer residence at the end of the 18th century.
Centuries have covered many accounts of paranormal activity in the Parson Barnard house, including the tale of a ghost hunter being touched by invisible hands, especially in the attic.
This establishment, built in the 1870s, was supposed to revolutionize the treatment of the mentally ill. Instead, it fomented untold abuse, with overcrowding (it was built for 500 patients and by the 1940s had over 2,500) dragging cramped patients into basements and attics and to roam covered with their own garbage.
The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, as it was originally named, was also the birthplace of pre-frontal lobotomy.
After budget cuts in the 1960s, the facility shrank in size and scope until it closed in the 1990s. Most of the hospital was demolished and turned into an apartment complex. Part of the front facade remains.
In 1671 two fishermen – Harry Maine and Andrew Diamond – arrived in Ipswich and shared a house at 32 Water St.
Diamond built a successful business by erecting docks in Ipswich, while his partner made a living in a less noble way. He was a pirate.
On dark nights, Maine is said to have lit bonfires on the beach to disorient ship captains so that their ships crash into the sandbanks. Maine and his pirates would then kill the survivors and plunder the ship’s loot.
Eventually, Maine was arrested and executed, supposedly by being chained to the Ipswich Bar and left to drown as the water rose.
The treasure Maine stole and accumulated was believed to be in his house, but it has never been found.
This lavish mansion was built in the 1920s as the home of inventor John Hays Hammond. Hammond was a fan of medieval art and architecture, as evidenced by the design of the castle.
Hammond died in 1965, and his ghost is said to have been sighted several times in the castle. Psychic fairs have been held there over the years, and attendees have reported more supernatural activity than psychics serve.
Today the castle is a museum and guests can take self-guided tours through the property, possibly meeting Hammond in person, so to speak.
Salem has more than his share of haunting legends. One of them is that of the Joshua Ward House.
Built in 1784 for merchant Joshua Ward, this building was one of the first brick houses built in Salem. George Washington is said to have stayed there in 1789. It was converted into a tavern in the 1800s and into a hotel in 2015.
Joshua Ward House shares land with the former home of Sheriff George Corwin, who has issued arrest warrants against people accused of witchcraft and inflicted particularly cruel punishments.
Its proximity to Corwin’s house is believed to be the cause of many ghost sightings at the Joshua Ward House. One of these ghosts is believed to be Giles Corey, a famous victim of the witch-trial hysteria that Corwin executed by crushing him with large stones.
Built in the 1640s to defend the new colonies from attackers, the fort was ultimately named after Massachusetts Supreme Court justice Samuel Sewall after the American Revolution.
Over the centuries, Fort Sewall saw actions against the French and the British, and in 1814 the USS Constitution was able to escape the British Navy with the help of the gunners from Fort Sewall.
The federal government donated the fort to the town of Marblehead in the 1920s, and the site still has bunkers and underground prison cells.
There have been reports of paranormal activity at the fort, and it is believed the site may be haunted by a death row pirate Sewall.
Located at 244 Central Street in Saugus, this national historic site was the birthplace of the American steel industry in the mid-1600s.
During this time, prisoners of war from Europe were often sent to Massachusetts as indentured servants, and many worked at the Saugus steel plant to earn their stay in the New World.
The Ironworks closed in the 1660s and the site became the home of Samuel Appleton. Wallace Nutting bought the house at the turn of the 20th century and eventually sold it to an antique dealer.
The current buildings are reconstructions of the originals.
There are, of course, many more so-called haunted places on the North Shore to discover. And while you’re in the area, here are some fun things to do in Salem this Halloween week.