Friday, October 15, 2010
Gloucester's Haunted Castle
In celebration of Vanessa's Haunted Halloween Party over at A Fanciful Twist --http://afancifultwist.typepad.com, I thought I'd share a place that I've once visited, used to drive by several times in a week when I lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Gloucester's Haunted Castle
Hammond Castle was built in the 1920s by American Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. Hammond holds the second largest number of invention patents next to Thomas Edison. He was a very wealthy man. His fascination with historical European culture led him to include many artifacts from old Europe in the furnishings - he even incorporated ancient tombstones inscribed in Latin and had them made parts of the walls. There are many ghost stories about Hammond Castle. Some think that Hammond brought spirits into the house along with the artifacts he collected. Others think that Hammond and his Wife summoned the spirits through their experiments with Spiritualism.
Even if you don't see a ghost during a visit to Hammond Castle, the site has plenty of eccentric features to entertain. Among the features are a working drawbridge, the tomb of a child from ancient Rome, the skull of one of Christopher Columbus's crewman, an eighty-five foot tall pipe organ (the largest ever installed into a private residence, an indoor swimming pool complete with facades taken from Medieval European storefronts and many, many historical artifacts.
The Cats of Hammond Castle
During their lives at Hammond Castle, John Hammond and his Wife, Irene had dozens of pet cats. Whenever one would die, Hammond would preserve the cat in formaldehyde. He would then lead a slow vehicular funeral procession around Cape Ann that would start and end at the castle. Ultimately the preserved feline would wind up in the master's future burial vault, much like an Egyptian pharaoh taking his pets with him into the afterlife. The burial vault is on the property.
John Hammond expressed a wish to be reincarnated as a cat. Some believe that Hammond did indeed return as a black cat that lived on the grounds in the years after his death. The stray chose the place to live and frequented the stone Bishop's Chair that Hammond liked to sit and smoke in.
The Dead Spot
There is a section of floor in the main hall of Hammond Castle that is bleached lighter then the rest of the floor. This is the result of the Hammond's experiments with Spiritualism. John Hammond created an elaborate Faraday cage that surrounded psychic mediums with an electrical field during seances. The concept was that the electrical field would keep out psychic impressions of the living around the medium and only allow in the spirits. The electrical field bleached the floor where the cage once stood. Some say that the "Dead Spot" has focused the energy of the castle's spirits into this small area.
The Supernatural at Hammond Castle
Items have been known to disappear, reappear, or be moved by unseen residents. There is a spectre who sometimes appears in the organ loft. Workers at the castle hear voices when nobody else is around. A ghostly red-haired woman occasionally appears amongst guests at weddings held at the castle.
Castle of the Damned
During the Halloween season, Hammond Castle is transformed into the haunted attraction, Castle of the Damned. The annual Halloween haunt is put together by an interactive theatrical group that aspires to provide more than the traditional haunted attraction. The attraction varies from standard methods of scaring its guests and relies on more visceral means (through haunting images and scenery) to leave a more lasting horrific impression on those who pass through.
Sometime soon, I'm going back down to my old stomping grounds and visit Hammond's Castle. Another stop that's a must for anyone at Halloween----SALEM! The home of the Salem Witch Trials. But that's another story for another day. I hope you enjoyed this post and hope you get the chance to visit this truly unique castle.