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Explore the dark side of New England with these spooky sites

Some of the flying monkeys on lakefront roofs in Burlington, Vt., were mascots at a Wizard of Oz-themed store in the 1970s. PHOTOS BY J. W. Ocker

J. W. Ocker is the creator of the website OTIS: Odd Things I’ve Seen (www.oddthingsiveseen.com), where he writes about his visits to oddities of nature, history, art, and culture across the country. He is the author of two macabre travelogues, The New England Grimpendium and The New York Grimpendium, which recount his travels to hundreds of death-related sites in those regions.

Just in time for the Halloween season, Ocker shares his list of 49 spooky sites in New England.


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Snedeker Demon House, Southington

 Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrain Warren are as controversial as the cases they investigated, but their escapades filled the “possessed house” horror movie subgenre better than anyone else’s. The 1986 Snedeker case at this funeral-home-turned-residence became the 2009 film “A Haunting in Connecticut.”  208 Meriden Ave., www.atlasobscura.com/places/snedeker-house


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Grave of Sarah Winchester, New Haven

It took Winchester rifle heiress Sarah Winchester 40 years to build the most famous of haunted houses: the Winchester Mansion in San Jose, Calif. But she’s buried in New Haven, where she was born. Evergreen Cemetery, Ella Grasso Boulevard, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2012/06/winchester-mystery-house.html

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Ray Family Vampires, Jewett City

 The tuberculosis-mistaken-for-vampirism story is a common one in early New England. In 1854, the Ray family found themselves creating another chapter as they exhumed family members and burned them to ashes to stop the wasting sickness that was besetting them.  Jewett City Cemetery, Anthony Street, www.atlasobscura.com/places/jewett-city-vampires

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Home of Jason Vorhees, New Preston

The downtown area of New Preston was used in one of the first scenes of the 1981 “Friday 13th, Part 2,” the movie that gave us our first real look at Voorhees. The rest was filmed in surrounding areas, including Kent.  Main Street, www.atlasobscura.com/places/new-preston-and-kent-connecticut

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Poplar Plains Cemetery, Westport  

This small cemetery was the scene of the death of one of the victims in Wes Craven’s jarring, breakout 1972 horror movie, “The Last House on the Left.”  Wilton Road

Severed arm of Saint Edmund, Mystic

 Saint Edmund was archbishop of Canterbury during the time of Henry III and Pope Gregory IX. His arm holds an honored position in the Chapel of Our Lady of Assumption at Saint Edmund’s Retreat.  1 Enders Island, www.atlasobscura.com/places/connecticut-severed-arm


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Hartford Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford

 On July 6, 1944, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus tent caught fire, killing 168. A memorial to the tragedy sits on the site of the tent’s center post.  Fred D. Wish School, 350 Barbour St., www.atlasobscura.com/places/hartford-circus-fire-memorial

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Archer-Gilligan Murder House, Windsor

 On the down side, this house was the scene of possibly 60 arsenic murders in the early 1900s when it was a retirement home run by Amy Archer-Gilligan. On the up side, the story went on to inspire the 1940s play and movie, “Arsenic and Old Lace.”  37 Prospect St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/10/archer-gilligan-murder-house.html

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Cushing Brain Collection, New Haven

 This elegantly displayed public collection on the lower floor of Yale University’s Whitney Medical Library is full of brain specimens collected by Dr. Harvey Cushing from 1902-32.  333 Cedar St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/04/cushing-brain-collection.html

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Center Church Crypt, New Haven

 Center Church can’t store old pews in its basement because its basement is a cemetery, one that was open to the air back when New Haven Green itself was a cemetery. The city raised the ground and removed the headstones everywhere but under the church. The remains of some 10,000 people still lie beneath the green.  311 Temple St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2010/08/center-church-crypt.html


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Mexican Tomb Figures, Orono

 The University of Maine’s Hudson Museum features a stunning collection of figural pottery from the shaft tombs of western Mexico. Free. 5746 Collins Center for the Arts, www.umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum


B-52 Bomber Crash Site, Pisca-taquis County

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In 1963, a B-52 training out of Westover Air Force Base crashed into Maine’s Elephant Mountain. Seven of the nine crewmen died, and today the wreckage lies where it landed as a public memorial. Elephant Mountain, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2012/06/b-52-bomber-crash-site.html

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Pet Sematary House, Hancock

 The central filming location for the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “Pet Sematary” is a pleasant-looking red and yellow house whose eerie celluloid past is hardly noticeable.  303 Point Road, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2010/10/new-england-grimpendium-stephen-king.html

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Graveyard Shift Mill, Harmony

This still-working mill is spooky. The proof? It was chosen as the exterior for the mill in “Graveyard Shift,” a 1990 flick about a giant bat based on a Stephen King story.  20 Water St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2010/10/new-england-grimpendium-stephen-king.html

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International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland

 Never seen Bigfoot? A lake monster? Mothman? That’s because you’ve never been to this museum, dedicated to the monsters we love even though we’ve haven’t met them . . . yet.  11 Avon St., Portland, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2013/06/big-foot-forever-bff-return-to.html

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Stephen King House, Bangor

He’s a famous horror author, and you can walk right up to his fence . . . if you dare. It’s covered in wrought-iron spiders, three-headed dragons, and winged demons.  47 West Broadway, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2007/10/stephen-kings-house.html


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Lowell Cemetery, Lowell

 This 170-year-old cemetery features the grave of the woman Edgar Allan Poe fell in love with after his wife’s death, a massive white marble lion, and a dark statue that’s slipped into lore as the ominous Witch Bonney.  77 Knapp Ave., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2012/10/white-lions-and-witches-lowell-cemetery.html

Grave of a Werewolf, Southborough

 His name was Warner Oland. He played Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, and Dr. Yogami, the first werewolf in Hollywood history and the one who bites Henry Hull in the 1935 film “Werewolf of London.” He’s buried here.  Southborough Rural Cemetery, 11 Cordaville Road, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/10/grave-of-werewolf.html


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Edgar Allan Poe Square, Boston

 This square just off Boston Common is dedicated to horror master Poe, who was born about half a block away in a residence that was torn down decades ago. It will soon feature his statue.  Boylston and Charles streets, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/09/edgar-allan-poes-boston.html

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Graves of the James Brothers, Cambridge

 Henry James was the author of “The Turn of the Screw,” one of the most famous ghost stories in English literature. His brother, William, was a renowned psychologist who investigated the paranormal. They share a plot with family members.  Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., www.atlasobscura.com/places/graves-henry-william-james

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Padihershef the Mummy, Boston

 The first complete mummy-and-sarcophagus in the country was a gift to Massachusetts General Hospital, where it presided over the first public surgery under anesthesia. Today it’s still in that same operating room, which is open to the public.  55 Fruit St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2013/06/facelift-and-body-wrap-return-to.html

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Dungeon Rock, Lynn

 This cave was dug in the 1800s by a man searching for treasure after being directed there by the ghost of a pirate who died in that spot in the 1600s.  Lynn Woods Reservation, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2010/08/new-england-grimpendium-dungeon-rock.html

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Danvers State Hospital, Danvers

 This hospital opened in 1878. By 1992, it was abandoned. In 2000, the horror film “Session 9” filmed in its rotting innards. In 2006, it was demolished for condos, but remnants of the old asylum remain, including the façade of the main building and the hospital cemetery.  1101 Kirkbride Drive, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2008/09/ex-danvers-state-hospital-revisited.html

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Lizzie Borden B&B, Fall River

 This site of the infamous murders of Andrew and Abby Borden that popular opinion attributes to their daughter-stepdaughter, Lizzie, is now a B&B themed accordingly.  230 2nd St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2007/11/lizzie-borden-bed-and-breakfast-part-i.html


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Black Dahlia Memorial, Medford

 She became famous in California for her corpse, which was found bizarrely butchered, but Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, is memorialized in her hometown with a plaque near where her home once stood.  Salem Street, Medford, www.atlasobscura.com/places/black-dahlia-memorial

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Prison Ruins, Rutland

  The graffitied ruins of a 110-year-old prison camp near Rutland State Park include a cave-like vegetable cellar built into a hill, the remains of the solitary confinement cells, and a prison graveyard.  MDC and Prison Camp Roads, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2013/08/on-my-own-recognizance-rutland-prison.html

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Grave of the Boston Strangler, Peabody

In the 1960s, while serving time for serial rape, Albert DeSalvo confessed to a series of murders attributed to the Boston Strangler. He was stabbed to death before the mystery could be resolved.  Puritan Lawn Memorial Park, 185 Lake St., www.atlasobscura.com/places/grave-boston-strangler


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Ghost Town of Monson, Hollis

Monson was settled in 1730, but within four decades, the people gave it up for ghosts. Today it’s a park where you can still see the cellar holes.  Adams Road, www.atlasobscura.com/places/monson-new-hampshire

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Smuttynose Murder Victim Graves, Portsmouth

 In 1873 Karen Christensen and her sister-in-law Anethe were axe-murdered by a fisherman on an island off the coast of Maine in one of the seaboard’s most infamous stories. They are buried side by side.  South Cemetery, South and Sagamore streets, www.atlasobscura.com/places/graves-smuttynose-murder-vic

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Josie Langmaid Memorial, Pembroke

 In 1875 Josie, 17, was on her way to school when she was murdered by a woodcutter. Her strange monument memorializes her life by directing visitors to the exact spot where they found her body. And the exact spot where they found her severed head.  Academy Road, www.atlasobscura.com/places/josie-langmaid-monument

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Dover Asylum Fire Monument, Dover

 It’s a simple pillar monument set on a hill behind a retirement home, but it tells the story of a fire that burned an asylum to the ground there in 1893, killing 41 of the 44 patients.  County Farm Road, www.dover.lib.nh.us/DoverHistory/fire_at_the_insane_asylum.htm

Christopher Wilder Suicide Spot, Colebrook

 After a rape and murder spree in 1984 that spanned the country, Christopher Wilder was caught by police at a gas station here. Well, almost caught. He shot himself before they could bring him to earthly justice.  Main and Bridge Streets, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Wilder

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Epic of American Civilization, Hanover

 In 1932 Jose Clemente Orozco spent two years painting a 24-panel mural that covers 3,200 square feet of the inside of Baker Library at Dartmouth College. The panels tell the history of the New World using the imagery of human sacrifice, Aztec gods, and skeletons.  6025 Baker Berry Library, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2009/07/epic-of-american-civilization.html

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Betty and Barney Hill Sites, Kingston

 The Hills’ alien abduction claims introduced the culture to the phenomenon as we know it. Their fateful journey can be traced down Route 3 and is commemorated with an official sign. You also can visit their graves in Kingston. 664 US Route 3 Lincoln (sign); Greenwood Cemetery, North Road, Kingston (graves), www.oddthingsiveseen.com

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Birthplace of H. H. Holmes, Gilmanton

 Herman Mudgett, a.k.a. H. H. Holmes, was one of the earliest of the modern serial killers. He became infamous for his murder castle in Chicago, where he rigged an entire building to help kill and dispose of his victims.  500 Province Road. www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2009/04/mudgett-house_06.html

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Grave of Claude Rains, Moultonborough

 He was the Invisible Man in the classic Universal Studios horror film of the same name, and today his grave is marked by a bullet-shaped black tombstone in a small cemetery in this town, where he spent his final years.  Bean Road, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2008/10/claude-rains-grave.html

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Crowley’s Magickal Retirement Cabin, Hebron

 In 1916, occultist and sensationalist Aleister Crowley spent a few months holed up in the cabin of a medium named Evangeline Adams in Hebron, engaged in what he called a “magickal retirement.”  Church Road, www.atlasobscura.com/places/aleister-crowley-magickal-retirement


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Grave of the Vampire’s Clasp, Smithfield

 Simon Whipple’s gravestone, past the edge of the forest that lines Union Cemetery, has an epitaph that is both poetic and ominous. Some of it is lost to time, but what can be read says, “Altho’ consumption’s vampire grasp /Had seized thy mortal frame . . .”  Union Cemetery, Smithfield Road, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/10/grave-of-vampires-clasp.html

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H. P. Lovecraft Bust, Providence

 He’s the iconic Providence horror writer who invented the tentacled god Cthulhu, and in 2013, more than 75 years after his death, was honored with a bronze bust in the Providence Athenaeum, where he used to visit.  251 Benefit St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2013/08/head-and-shoulders-among-his-peers-hp.html

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Books of Human Skin, Providence

 Brown University’s John Hay Library has three examples of anthropodermic bibliopegy, the art of binding books in human skin. One is a 16th-century anatomy book. The other two are 19th-century versions of a story called “The Dance of Death.”  20 Prospect St., www.library.brown.edu/about/hay

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Grave of Mercy Brown, Exeter

The case of Mercy Brown, 19, is New England’s most famous case of a corpse exhumed and ritualistically treated to destroy the vampire she was feared to have become. In 1892, her family exhumed her body, burned her heart, and drank her ashes. 467 Ten Rod Road, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2007/12/grave-of-mercy-brown-vampire.html


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Grave of a Mummy, Middlebury

 Harry Sheldon was a collector in the 1800s who wanted a bona fide mummy in his collection. The one he got? Prince Amum-Her-Khepesh-Ef. Unfortunately it was a 2-year-old prince and badly preserved. So he stuck it in an attic where years later it was found and buried in a Middlebury cemetery.  West Cemetery, Route 30, www.atlasobscura.com/places/grave-of-amum-her-khepesh-ef

The Lottery Site, North Bennington

 Lincoln Square is an easily overlooked median, but it helped inspire Shirley Jackson to write her chilling 1948 short story, “The Lottery.” She lived just a few houses away, and got the idea while shopping at the square.  Intersection of Sage, Prospect, Nash, and Main streets, www.atlasobscura.com/places/lincoln-square-lottery

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Grave with a Window, New Haven

 Dr. Timothy Smith saw death misdiagnosed enough in his career that he was afraid of it for himself. So he had a window installed in his grave so that people wouldn’t make the same mistake.  Evergreen Cemetery, Town Hill Road, www.atlasobscura.com/places/grave-timothy-clark-smith

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Walloomsac Inn, Bennington

Built in 1771, the impossibly decayed structure is now a private residence in a prominent part of town, just across the street from the churchyard where Robert Frost is buried.  Monument Circle, www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2012/09/stopping-by-haunted-house-walloomsac-inn.html

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Green Mount Cemetery, Montpelier

 With its funeral art and natural setting outside the capital, this is one of the more beautiful and eerie cemeteries in New England, especially in fall.  251 State St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2010/09/new-england-grimpendium-green-mount.html

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Flying Monkeys, Burlington

Some of the terrifying metal flying monkeys dotting the roofs of the Champlain lakefront were originally mascots at a Wizard of Oz themed waterbed store in the 1970s. The rest came about due to the popularity of the originals.  One Main St., www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2008/11/flying-monkeys.html

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Ted Bundy Birth Site, Burlington

 It is a bland office building, but it stands on the spot where the serial killer was born. In 1946 it was the site of a women’s shelter, where Bundy’s mother gave birth to him.  346 Shelburne Road, www.atlasobscura.com/places/birthplace-ted-bundy

Town of Beetlejuice, East Corinth

 The downtown area of East Corinth is where Tim Burton filmed the exteriors of his 1988 horror comedy, “Beetlejuice.” The place still looks the same, except the bridge isn’t covered and the hill where they built the facade for the Deetz house is back to being an empty hill. www.atlasobscura.com/places/east-corinth-vermont-beetlejuice

J. W. Ocker can be reached at www.oddthingsiveseen.com.

Correction: An earlier version of this story inappropriately mentioned the site of the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island. The Globe apologizes for its inclusion.