Gardner’s Haunted S.K. Pierce Mansion to Open for Public Tours
One of New England’s most infamous haunted locations will soon be open for the general public to tour.
The S.K. Pierce Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts made the announcement on its official Facebook page Monday night that it will soon be open for tours.
“Exactly seven years and one month after our 2015 purchase, the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion will open its doors to allow for touring of this historic home," the post read.
The mansion was built in 1875 by Sylvester K. Pierce, a wealthy furniture magnate at a time when Gardner was known as the “Chair City.” It was the dream home of Pierce and his wife, Susan, and they designed every little detail of its 7,000 square feet and 10 bedrooms.
But just weeks after moving in, Susan Pierce mysteriously contracted a bacterial illness and died. Pierce later married Ellen, a much younger woman. Ellen inherited the house when Sylvester died in 1888, and when she passed away years later, Pierce’s three sons bickered constantly over who had ownership of the great mansion and the family business.
During its heyday, the mansion was host to the likes of former President Calvin Coolidge, famous pool player Minnesota Fats, Bette Davis, P.T. Barnum, and Norman Rockwell is even said to have worked out of the house for a time. It was also a well-known meeting place for the Freemasons.
But the Great Depression came and all but killed the furniture business. Eventually, Sylvester’s youngest son Edward took control of the mansion, but it fell on hard times as Edward tried to make money by turning it into a boarding home. Drinking, gambling, prostitution—the once great mansion became a den of sin. Some even say there were murders in the home.
There were seven verified deaths in the mansion over the years. One of them was Finnish immigrant Eino Saari, who was one of the boarders in 1963. Saari died in a fire, as a result of smoking in bed—although strangely, there were no burn marks on the walls, leading people to believe that Saari may have actually spontaneously combusted. People visiting the mansion today often report smelling smoke in this room, and hearing phantom screams.
Another sordid tale involves a prostitute killed in the mansion’s Red Room, strangled to death. Both she and her killer are believed to haunt the room.
Edward eventually lost the mansion in 1965, gambling it away in a poker game. The new owner allowed him to stay, but he had to live in a small room in the basement, where he died two years later. A dark, brooding shadow entity haunts the basement to this day, and people feel it is Edward refusing to leave his family’s great mansion.
For decades, the SK Pierce mansion sat vacant. Eventually, new owners would try to revive it to its former glory, but nobody stuck around very long. Edwin Gonzalez and his wife Lilian Otero had plans to live in the mansion and also open it for paranormal investigation, but the ghosts got to be too much for them and they eventually had to move out – still paying the mortgage on the mansion while also paying for another home an hour away, because they couldn’t stand to be any closer to it.
In 2015, they sold the mansion to Rob and Allison Conti of New Jersey, who put a lot of time and money into restoring the mansion while also allowing for paranormal investigation. They hope to eventually open it as a bed and breakfast.
Now, you can step inside this Victorian mansion and learn all about the history and the haunts for yourself. The first day of tours will be Thursday, September 15, and will be conducted by one of the mansion’s 11 trained tour guides.
“Each will provide a unique vision of the Mansion's history, both historical and paranormal,” the post read. “Our tours are approximately one hour with an additional 30 minutes made available for browsing and photos.”
All tours must be booked in advance through the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion website. No walk-ins will be accepted.