By Thomas D'Agostino
Many people are aware of the mansion in Gardner called the Victorian. The building has been the subject of several television shows, books and historical accounts. Arlene and I have had the fortunate pleasure to become acquainted with the two previous owners and even more, a few of the ghosts that reside within the mansion.
One in particular is the ghost of Mattie Cornwall, a former nanny to the Pierce family, original owners of the manse. Mattie was a young woman when she arrived from Nova Scotia to take on employment with the Pierce family. Her duties were various and included caring for the children, overseeing mail delivery, some cooking and other various chores. Unfortunately she died at an early age and although her body may have gone to rest, her spirit stayed on as permanent caretaker of the house.
When Arlene and I visited the home in 2006, Mark Veau, then owner, gave us the grand tour. During the tour he related all he knew about the home and we recorded the event for our next book, Haunted Massachusetts. During the visit, we met Mark's wife and the two children. It was a memorable day as we made new friends on both sides of the veil. While we were upstairs in one of the bedrooms, I saw a small woman in a long dress walk past the door. When I brought that to Mark and Arlene's attention, we were quite puzzled as no one was dressed in such a manner or was there anyone upstairs.
Mark then took us to a room where his daughter saw the ghost of Mattie looking out the window. As described, it was the same form I saw passing through the hall. A psychic once told Mark that the woman servant did not like his dog running through the house, as it would upset Mr. Pierce. That was quite strange as the dog was not around at the time and the person would have no idea they even owned one.
While the home stood empty for a spell, two locals decided to break in and have an adventure. The police were alerted but when they arrived one of the adventurers was sitting on the sidewalk shaken while the other was making haste in the opposite direction of the home. They later told the police that a small young woman appeared in front of them while they were in the hall and sternly told them to leave. Legend has it that the two never again walked on the same side of the road when passing the property.
There is a closet upstairs where Mattie kept her knitting and sewing equipment and threads. She would save the strings that came with packaging and create various crafts. Mark's cat was found upstairs one day playing with a roll of yarn from the closet. This was strange as the closet was closed and latched, preventing anyone, or anything, from getting into it. Could Mattie have opened it to retrieve some sewing materials or perhaps to give a small amount to the cat to play with?
A group of investigators were called in to try and communicate with the ghosts of the Victorian. They recorded audio and shot photos of the rooms. One of the photos, when developed was of a great mirror in the parlor. In the photo, the reflection of a boy and a small woman in Victorian dress can be easily seen.
Since our first visit, we have become friends with Edwin and Lillian who purchased the home from the Veaus. Subsequent investigations proved that Mattie still resides in the home, watching over her employer’s estate. We held several investigations and visits to the home over the years and have recorded much evidence that the Victorian is alive with spirits of the past.
Dark Carnival Entertainment now owns the home. Overnight stays are available for those who wish to test their courage. Perhaps if Mattie likes you, she will give you a grand tour.