NORTH ADAMS -- A new special airing Halloween night will highlight one of the city's spookiest places.
The Houghton Mansion will be featured in an episode of "New England Legends" titled "The Spooky Berkshires," airing Thursday, Oct. 31 at 10 p.m. on PBS affiliate WGBY Springfield. Time Warner Cable customers can tune in on Channel 2, and over the air viewers, channel 57.
"For me, the Houghton Mansion is the quintessential New England haunted house," Director and Executive Producer Tony Dunne said Tuesday. "It's an incredible mansion with incredible character, and the story behind it is so tragic, so heartbreaking, you really feel for these people."
Legend has it that the Houghton family haunt the mansion at 172 Church St., now the Lafayette-Greylock Masonic Temple. The city's first mayor, Albert C. Houghton, died 10 days after being injured in an automobile accident on Oak Hill Road in Pownal, Vt. The accident also claimed the lives of his daughter, Mary, and her friend. The family's chauffeur, John Widder, committed suicide the day after the accident.
The crew interviewed local historian Paul Marino, Masons Josh and Nick Mantello and David Merrick, and Transcript reporter Jennifer Huberdeau to flesh out the legend, Dunne said.
"We actually take you to the spot where the accident happened in Pownal," he said. "People recount some of the stories they've experienced at the mansion."
The series' first episode will also have the crew travel to Lee's October Mountain, where visitors have reported seeing Bigfoot, UFO, and ghosts.
The second episode, "Mysteries in Stone," airs at 10:30 p.m. and takes viewers to "America's Stonehenge," a 4,000 year old stone calendar in Salem, N.H. The crew also travels to Boston's North Shore for stories of pirates, buried treasure, and a man who spent years digging through solid rock in search of old.
Host and Executive Producer Jeff Belanger said legends like these are unique to many New England communities.
"We live in an era where areas are getting strip malls, chain stores and big box stores, but these legends still exist," he said.
Dunne noted these legends are one of the last places the oral tradition exists, and have roots in Puritan society of 1600's.
"They were a fearful people," Dunne said. "They were scared of the new land, and brought old European traditions with them. Some of those have stayed with us."
Legends like the Houghton Mansion speak to people in primal ways, Belanger said.
"When we talk about ghosts, we're really asking, ‘Is there life after death,'" he said. "When we talk about UFOs, we're really asking, ‘Are we alone in the universe?...When you have these experiences, it kind of shakes everything of what you thought you knew."
"Whether you believe it or not is irrelevant," Dunne said. "You cannot discount what hundreds of rational upstanding folks have seen and claimed to experience. The nature of it is what we can debate."
For more information on the series, visit www.ournewenglandlegends.com.
To reach Edward Damon, email