S.K. Pierce Mansion - Atlas Obscura

S.K. Pierce Mansion

This historic Victorian mansion is allegedly so haunted that a signed waiver is required to enter. 

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Overlooking the nearby hills, the S.K. Pierce Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts, is hard to miss with its dark gray and red paint and stunning architectural detail. There are countless historical homes and mansions across the state and New England but few claim to house paranormal activity and even fewer have achieved a reputation like that of the S.K. Pierce mansion. What started off as a home for one of the city’s wealthiest residents took a turn for the worse and it is a story marked with tragedy, death, mystery, and whispers that its former residents still occupy their old abode.

Sylvester K. Pierce was one of the most successful businessmen in Gardner and made his fortune in furniture manufacturing as the city was renowned for making chairs earning it the nickname, “Chair City.” Pierce bought his own factory at age 25 and at age 53 decided to build a home befitting his public stature directly across the street. It took 100 men almost two years to complete the mansion, which covers 7,000 square feet over four stories. Inside there are 10 bedrooms, three bathrooms, and 11-foot ceilings, with ornate woodwork and marble fireplaces throughout. A tunnel also once existed in the basement that directly connected to Pierce’s factory. Throughout its storied history, many renowned guests have visited the home including President Calvin Coolidge, Minnesota Fats, Bette Davis, P.T. Barnum, and Norman Rockwell. Pierce himself was also a member of the Freemasons and the house was a meeting place for the society.

Pierce and his family had big dreams for the mansion but tragedy struck when his wife Susan succumbed to a bacterial illness just weeks after moving in. After a year in mourning, he married a woman 30 years his junior. Pierce himself passed away in 1888. After his second wife died, the family’s three sons bickered over the ownership of the home and business. Eventually, Pierce’s son Edward converted the home into a boarding house. It was during this time that rumors of drinking, gambling, prostitution, and possibly even murder began to haunt the house. A young sex worker was allegedly strangled in one of the bedrooms, a Finnish immigrant named Eino Saari burned to death in his room in 1963, and a young boy might have drowned in the basement.

In 2009, Edwin Gonzalez and Lilian Otero purchased the home and moved in unaware of its true history. Shortly after, they began hearing disembodied voices and seeing apparitions. Perhaps most disturbing, they discovered female pelvic bones buried in the basement. After two years of increasingly intense experiences, the couple moved out abruptly.

The home was purchased again in 2015 and restored to its original condition with tours being offered. Over the years, guests and visitors have reported voices, screams, moving furniture, slamming doors, foul odors, strange shadows, sudden temperature changes, and more. The home is purportedly haunted by members of the Pierce family, their servants, the young prostitute who was murdered, Eino Saari, several children, a cat, and other unidentified individuals.

Today the mansion is open with guided tours being offered regularly and currently there is a waiting list of over 3,000 people who wish to spend the night in the infamous home. The mansion is elegant, commanding, and foreboding with history seeping in every corner complimented with masonic symbols, old artifacts, a gloomy ambiance, and disconcerting dolls scattered throughout that seem to follow you with their eyes. If you are brave enough to step into the mansion to see if spirits still walk amongst us, the S.K. Pierce mansion is waiting for you.

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Tours are offered both in the afternoons and evenings.

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