|The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
| The Mad Scientist and His Haunted Castle!
~ Rose Titus ~
The North Shore of Massachusetts is filled with dark legends and history, some of which is downright
haunted and even spooky. Who would guess that boring little Massachusetts once had its very own mad
scientist – yes, that’s right – a mad scientist, just like you see in your favorite black and white horror
movies – a mad scientist with his own castle by the sea – and the castle comes complete with an old pipe
organ – the very same type of pipe organ that made the traditional horror film music you know and love!
John Hays Hammond, Jr. was a genius, and also he was for sure a real nut. You might want to call him
an actual “mad scientist.” He is called the “father of remote control,” because he invented remote control.
Once he sailed a boat around Gloucester harbor without any sailors controlling it for an experiment – and
this being before modern technology – people witnessing the event thought it was a ghost ship. The event
terrified the sailors all around Gloucester, but it made Hammond rich.
He sold his invention to the military and made a fortune, becoming an extremely wealthy man. He
continued to invent and held the most patents of anyone in the United States at the time. Now he had
money to create his dream – a real medieval castle by the ocean. And it still stands today so you can go
visit. He called the castle “Abbadia Mare” – Latin for Abbey by the Sea.
You can join a tour and learn what an eccentric character he was. Although a brilliant mind, he seemed
to have a childish outlook on life and played annoying jokes on people like an overgrown kid. It is said that
when he had overnight guests, he would sneak around the castle at night, pretending to be a ghost,
deliberately trying to scare people. And he could get around unseen because of the “secret
passageways” in the castle.
One of the upstairs bedrooms has hidden doors, so that when guests went to sleep at night, they would
wake up in the morning and not be able to find their way out of the room. The doors are covered with
wallpaper that lines up with and matches the wallpaper in the room, so that when the doors shut, it makes it
harder to see the doors the next morning in order to exit. This was another of Hammond’s notorious
pranks on his hapless and unfortunate houseguests.
He invited many of the famous celebrities and other brilliant scientists of the day to visit his castle
where he held parties and pipe organ concerts – the Hearsts, George Gershwin, Helen Hayes, the
Marconis, David Rockefeller, the Barrymores, Noel Coward, and others. He was even friends with Nicola
Tesla. He loved to entertain and have wild parties!
The castle itself has a great many ancient and medieval artifacts – including a human skull on display.
It is believed to be the skull of one of Christopher Columbus’sailors. There is also an ancient Roman
sarcophagus near the indoor swimming pool. Also near the pool, a statue of Hammond himself, wearing
nothing but a fig leaf.
Both he and his wife Irene, an artist, were interested in the occult and communicating with the dead. It
has been said that when he was not working on top-secret inventions to sell to the military, he may have
been experimenting with telepathy and other paranormal phenomena. He invited psychics to the castle to
conduct ESP and telepathy experiments. One psychic, Eileen Garrett, was actually put in a Faraday cage
while the experiment was being conducted. It was said that her performance astounded those conducting
There were also séances held at the castle. Some believe that this fascination with ESP and
communicating with those in the afterlife may have left an effect on the castle. As it is now used as a
location for weddings, some brides have reported seeing a “mysterious red-haired woman” who then
vanishes. Museum staff believe she may be a ghost.
Strange voices have been heard echoing through the halls, and it has been said that the ghost of Mrs.
Hammond has been seen looking out of the windows. There are also rumors of the ghost of a caretaker
remaining in the area.
Hammond loved cats, especially black cats, and had several cats wandering the castle at all times. In
fact, he often said he would like to be reincarnated as a cat. After his death, a strange black cat appeared
at the castle. None of the people who worked at the castle knew where this particular cat came from, but
the cat took to occupying Hammond’s favorite chair.
Today, the ghost of Mr. Hammond is alleged to haunt the property, and he is buried there on the
grounds, along with his many cats.
Don’t forget to visit the gift shop.
If you want to know more about John Hays Hammond and Hammond Castle, check out these
resources – or go and visit for yourself:
1. Fowler, Natalie, “Top Ten Haunted American Castles,” Fate Magazine, Issue 734.
2. Muise, Peter, Legends and Lore of the North Shore, History Press, 2014.
3. D’Imperio, Chuck, Massachusetts Treasures, Bright Leaf, 2018.
4. Seifer, Marc J., Wizard: The Life and Times of Nicola Tesla, Birch Lane Press, 1996.