Ghosts, ghouls and the ghastly
Finding spooky thrills in the Boston area
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:10
With Halloween here, it’s easy to get in the festive mood—but Oct. 31, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, is not the only time ghosts and spirits abound. There are many places that are haunted every day of the year.
Wandering Boston will likely take you through many ghosts’ territories. The Boston Commons, a popular, seemingly safe hangout space, is in fact known to be haunted by ghosts. Many visitors report sighting two ghostly women dressed in 19th century garb, who often smile kindly at passersby but vanish whenever anyone tries to get close.
The Everett Theatre on Fairmount Ave. looks like a normal run-down theater from the outside, but has a gory history. In the 1700s, the theater witnessed a terrible slaughter in which, during a sold-out show, two murderers cut down the stage lights and killed everyone on one balcony. Although the theater is now closed, people still report seeing ghosts on the balcony and hearing the screams and cries of the long-dead victims.
Boston is home to another haunted theater, the Cutler Majestic Theatre, located in the heart of the city and currently owned by Emerson College. Since 1903, when it was built, the theatre has earned a reputation for being one of the most haunted buildings in the district. Local legend tells the story of a former Boston mayor dying during a performance; to this day his ghostly figure is still seen sitting in the very seat that he died in. Other patrons report witnessing a little girl with a married couple, clothed in turn-of-the-century outfits, haunting the now-unused balcony.
Cambridge, too, is home to a myriad of haunted locales. Even the local YMCA is known for the green ghost that wanders the grounds. If you’re in the mood for some treats to sweeten your ghost hunting, visit Verna’s Donut Shop, the basement of which is supposedly severely haunted. Many report seeing shadowy figures hiding amongst the boxes; Verna’s own granddaughter used to refuse to visit the basement’s bathroom unescorted.
Chinatown, another place a hungry ghostbuster might frequent, also contains a few haunted hotspots. The Tai Tung Village Mural, which adorns a children’s playground, is known to give visitors a good spook. On calm nights, people sometimes report feeling a chilly aura as they view the mural. Others even speak of witnessing ghostly figures emerge from the mural in the form of a small child or a short man.
The truly brave soul searching for a guaranteed haunting will venture to Salem, Mass., the infamous site of the 1692 witchcraft trials and executions, where multiple tours and museums cater specifically to chill-seekers. The Museum of Myths and Monsters is noted for being Salem’s oldest haunted attraction, and both the Derby Square Tours and Spellbound Tours are highly recommended for those wishing for a wider-ranging or more mobile route.
The two most popular haunted venues in Salem, only for the most adventurous, are Gallows Hill and the Hawthorne Hotel. Gallows Hill saw many a witch hanged in its day, and visitors frequently recount experiencing unknown phenomena that indicate that the accused witches’ spirits are still haunting the Hill. As for the Hawthorne Hotel—anyone who has seen “The Shining” knows how terrifying hotels can be, and the Hawthorne Hotel is a real-life example of the horrors that can beset a hotel. Many report strange occurrences linked to the elevator, which is believed to be haunted. The sixth floor, however, is where the true haunted events occur—probably because the sixth floor is home to a double murder over a lover’s quarrel, at least according to the locals’ claims. Here many patrons experience feeling strange cold spots, and chandeliers are seen swaying without causing a noise.
Those who love all the chills, scares and spooky stories associated with the Halloween season need not resort only to scary movies once October ends—nearby Boston is home to enough creepy places to quench even the bloodthirstiest of ghost hunters.