A tragic car accident heaped misery on this wealthy family in the early 20th century, and this town nestled in the northwestern part of the state still hasn’t forgotten it. Albert Charles Houghton was the first mayor of North Adams and president of Arnold Print Works, what is now the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA). He and his family lived in an opulent mansion (Houghton’s third house in the town), which was built in the Neoclassical Revival style. On August 1, 1914, Houghton, along with his daughter, Mary, their chauffeur, John Widders, and a couple friends, Robert and Sybil Hutton of New York, went out for a morning drive up to Vermont in Houghton’s first car, a Pierce-Arrow touring vehicle.
In Pownal, Vermont, the car caught the soft shoulder of the road and careened down a embankment. The car rolled over Sybil, killing her; Mary died later that day; and Houghton died 10 days after. Widders was cleared of any wrongdoing, but couldn’t forgive himself for the accident. The next day, he used a horse pistol to kill himself in Houghton Barn. The mansion, on the National Register of Historic Places and rumored to be haunted, has been featured on Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and the show Ghost Hunters.