It’s a fixture on Gardner’s West Broadway, in the middle of town. A ornate Victorian, brimming with history, but locked inside its 12 foot oak front doors are stories that only a few can tell.
“We saw it online, we quickly called the realtors, and we said we’d like to come down, and they are like ‘You want to see that house?’” Edwin Gonzalez says when he and Lillian Otero bought the Gardner’s Victorian Mansion 2 years ago. The two are part of only a handful of owners since it was built back in1875 by furniture tycoon S.K. Pierce. At one time, the home was a playground for the likes of P.T. Barnum and President Calvin Coolidge. But, when Pierce’s son Frank lost the mansion in a 1900’s poker game, something changed at 4 West Broadway.
“I’m not nervous around it,” Lillian says. “I do get very nervous, when Lillian’s not around I leave the lights on,” Edwin says. Little did Edwin and Lillian knows their beautiful Victorian came with company. Every minute of the day spirits inside their 26 room mansion started reaching out.
“On the footsteps are crazy. Yeah, we hear it constantly, especially in the 2nd floor landing and up and down the staircase,” Edwin says, and “the master bedroom door slammed on 3 different occasions, I mean full force just slammed.” “I heard three notes, and I was like, ‘Is that the piano, and one last note,” Lillian says. They soon discovered their home had been the subject of many paranormal investigations, uncovering information that would send most people packing, like why their master bedroom always smells like a campfire. “Back in 1963, we found out that a man spontaneously combusted right in the middle of the bedroom floor,” Edwin says.
Edwin and Lillian have since seen shadows in their hallways, have had images of children appear in photos, dug up bones in their basement, watched beds shake uncontrollably, and encountered what they say, is a very angry man.
“This house is very haunted,” says Kimberly Huertas, a psychic with Harvest Moon Paranormal in Dracut. Her group of investigators believe the Gardner Mansion is full of active spirits. She mentions something that might explain Edwin’s encounter with that troubled man, “its been said that this was a brothel at one time, or a rooming house, and there was a prostitute that was murdered,” Huertas says. She believes the murderer is still haunting the 2nd floor, and says she has connected with him on occasion. Digital pictures captured the energy after Huertas’ connection. Huertas was later overcome with emotion. “I always welcome skeptics, because by the end of the night, they won’t be skeptics anymore,” Huertas says.
Edwin and Lillian are believers. They have opened their home to tours and are getting acquainted with their new spiritual friends. So you can bet the Gardner Mansion won’t be on the market anytime soon. “Oh no, we love this house, we have so many good times here, in just a short period of time. Definitely, for now we are staying put. We love this house.”