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Weekend Outlook: Haunted Houghtons, Pumpkin Parades

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The Houghton Mansion on Church Street is rumored to be haunted.

Houghton Mansion Get TV Debut

Get your ghost on and tune into The Travel Channel tonight at 9 to watch an expose on the haunted happenings at the Houghton Mansion in North Adams.

The massive mansion on Church Street, built by the city's first mayor, has gained notoriety over the last few years for being the home of haunts. Now the headquarters of the local Mason's chapter, some say the century-old building contains the spirits of Houghton's daughter Mary who was killed in an automobile crash and the family's driver, who killed himself in remorse.

"The Ghost Adventures" team of Zak, Nick and Aaron were locked into the mansion in June; the results of their investigation will premiere tonight. It will also feature a number of residents, including local historian Paul Marino and Berkshire Paranormal members like Josh Mantello.

Marino provided the newspaper clippings, headlines and photos used in the episode. He also took the team on a tour of the house and of the family plot in Southview Cemetery, where the mayor, his wife, their eldest daughter and 35-year-old Mary. The plot also contains the grave of chaffeur John Widders in a far corner. "It's interesting because none of the other servants are buried there," said Marino.

Some have speculated that Widders and Mary Houghton were romantically involved, although there is no evidence of that.

In fact, Marino said one of his paranormal encounters was related to that gossipy tidbit when the New England Ghost Project was at the mansion some time ago. He was doing a walkthrough with them when they entered a back bedroom and medium Maureen Wood asked him if it had been a playroom. She and Mantello grinned at each other.

But in less than a minute, Wood was soon coughing up a storm, as it seemed to get deeper and deeper into her lungs. She gasped that she had to get out and project members rushed her outside and doused her with holy water and sage. Her cough disappeared within a few minutes. Mantello also started coughing but was able to overcome it.

"When she asked about the 'playroom,' what she was visualizing was Mary fooling around with the chaffeur," said Marino. "Somebody didn't like that and punished her. Whether that's true or not I don't know but that's how I interpreted it."

The mansion's interior was used in the 1980s for the made-for-television movie "A Mistaken Charity," about two penniless elderly ladies at the turn of that century who fled an old ladies' home to return to their own home.

Mr. Houghton's study, the kitchen, dining room, front parlor and third-floor bedroom were used for the shots. (The Park-McCullough House in North Bennington, Vt., was used for the exterior shots.) Marino had been helping out at the Masonic Temple and noticed a light on in the bedroom one night after filming was completed.

"I went there after dark with the director to move a refrigerated Coke machine back into dining room where the Masons had had it," said Marino. "When we were finished, I went up the backstairs turning on lights as I went. Just as I was about to step into the room I realized the light couldn't be on because all the light fixtures had been removed and the room had been plastered.

"The only light would have been the light I turned on coming up the stairs — and I'm sure that it wasn't on before. I turned around and did a very fast walk back down the stairs, turning off lights as I went."

Marino went back outside — but no lights were on.

After those incidents, being filmed for a nationwide show isn't a big deal. "It was interesting," said Marino, who's program director at Northern Berkshire Community Television.

This is not the mansion's first brush with paranormal investigators — members of SciFi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" show have appeared at several programs there as The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or TAPS, as well as the aforementioned New England Ghost Project.

The Masonic Temple will be open for a "Houghton Night with the Spirits" on Saturday, Nov. 1. Doors will open at noon and a speaking program begins at 1. For more information, call 413-652-7989.

"The Ghost Adventures" can be seen locally on Time Warner Cable Channel 43.

A Spooky Bedtime Story

The Visitors' Center at Western Gateway Heritage State Park
presents a dramatic reading of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," designed for adults Friday at 7. The Washington Irving tale will be retold as a family shadow theater puppet presentation at 2 on Saturday in the Visitors' Center along with a historical talk about Halloween. On Saturday at 7, adults can enjoy "The Haunted Depot," a guided tour of the center's Haunted Railroad Depot. The programs are free; donations are accepted. For information, call 663.6312.

Halloween Parades Galore

The Pittsfield Department of Community Development Recreation Program will hold the 64th annual Halloween Parade, sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union, on Friday, October 24th at 7 pm. The parade route will begin on North Street at the corner of Fenn Street and end at Wahconah Park.
The Cheshire Halloween parade begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Cheshire School and marches to the police station. All children are invited; those under age 5 must be accompanied by an adult. Refreshments and prizes will be given to all participants at the end of the parade.

The parade is sponsored by the Cheshire Recreation Committee and the Police Department

On Monday, Northern Berkshire Family Net is hosting a costume parade 5:30 p.m. at Haskins Center on Route 8 in North Adams. Participatin is free, but registration required by calling 413-664-4821.

Pumpkin Patch Kids
United Neighborhood Organization in North Adams is sponsoring a Halloween trip to Ioka Valley Farm Pumpkin Patch on Saturday for UNO children up to age 10. Trip leaves from Bracewell Avenue playground at 1 p.m. Pick your own pumpkins, hayrides, spooky tunnel, animal petting area, refreshments and more, free courtesy of UNO. Call 413-663-5516 to register.

Final Harvest

The North Adams Farmers' Market is open for the final day of the season on Saturday from 8 to noon at the corner of Marshall and Center streets.

Gallery Treats

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts is offering a free Halloween-themed children's tour through the galleries on Saturday at noon for members only. It includes crafts, cider and doughnuts. Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. Reservations are not required but recommended. Call 413-664-4481, Ext. 8112, for more information.

Cemetery Walkabout

Local historian Paul W. Marino holds the last historical walk of 2008, a tour of Hillside Cemetery, on Saturday at 2:30. For more information, call 413-207-1344 or e-mail

Early Trick-or-Treat

The North Adams Big Y is hosting Halloween fun for children from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Children are invited to come and decorate a treat bag and go trick-or-treating in each department. Children must be accompanied by an adult; costumes are optional.

Halloween Parties for the Young at Heart

Two venues are hosting Halloween parties on Saturday night. The 4th annual Halloween Bash at The Hill Top in Plainfield kicks off at 8:30 and runs until midnight with Top Shelf DJ's "Come One Come All for a Scary Adventure of a Nitetime." The cover charge is $3; call 413-743-9007 for more informatin.

Berkshire Young Professionals are holding their Halloween Bash at 9 in Bier Hall at Pittsfield Brew Works, 34 Depot St., Pittsfield. For information, call 413-997-3506.

Find a Treasure

The Stamford (Vt.) Senior Citizens annual craft fair and bazaar runs from Friday evening through Sunday at the Stamford School on Main Road. A wide variety of handmade items and raffles will be available.

Sweet Brook Care Centers Resident Council will hold its annual Fall Bazaar and Fundraiser on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sweet Brook, 1561 Cold Spring Road (Route 7) in Williamstown.



Tags: historical building,   houghton mansion,   paranormal,   

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