As one of the oldest towns in the country, Cambridge has a rich history of human stories. Every corner of the town has centuries of accumulated memories. These are some of the local rumors and myths, some tragic, some malicious, that when recalled on a cold dark night in just the right spot, bring echoes to the present. Are these just your thoughts or are you just more attuned? Or is there something actually out there?
Pictured: Harvard Square’s Old Burial Ground where early settlers and prominent residents of Cambridge were buried.
The Cambridgeport Baptist Church, where Magazine Street ends in Central Square, burned down in 1881.
Residents reported hearing cries of agony, low moans, and shrieks that disappeared in the wind. Legend has it that back in colonial days, a local woman who lived alone, Ann Hopkins, was burned at the spot of the church. As she burned, she screamed, “The curse of fire shall be upon this spot forever!’’
The reports diminished after the church was rebuilt.
Pictured: Cabridgeport Baptist Church in 1997.
The guides at the Haunted Harvard Square Ghost Tour tell visitors about an incident that happened at the Porcellian Club, one of the oldest, secretive final clubs at the school. A group of men wanted to trick a skeptical man into believing ghosts were real.
A man dressed as a ghost and woke the other man up, who then swallowed his tongue and died. The man now allegedly haunts the halls as a warning.
Pictured: Porcellian Club building, ca. 1900.
Sometimes, screams can be heard late at night at Newtowne Market Square. The area is now known as Winthrop Park, a small rectangle of land by Mt. Auburn and J.F. Kennedy Streets, next to Pete’s Coffee.
A slave known as Phillips was sentenced to be burned alive at this spot for the murder of her master at Avon Hill near Porter Square.
At the southwest door of University Hall in Harvard, an ongoing dinner party can be overheard, according to the 1982 Harvard University Gazette. The hall was used for dining in the 19th century.
Pictured: Inside Harvard’s University Hall in 1969.
A ghost stalks the pews at Christ Church looking for his British regiment.
He was allegedly thrown from a wagon during the Revolutionary War and buried under the church, which was sympathetic to England back then.
Pictured: Donna La Rue in dressed a full 1600’s costume as Mistress Elizabeth de la Rue during a Colonial Cambridge Tours in 2008 at Christ Church Protestant Episcopal.
An old man haunts the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.
The ghost sometimes pushes a book cart near a World War II memorial hallway.
Five Hessian soldiers playing cards supposedly haunt the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House on Brattle Street.
Pictured: Gavin Kleespies, the executive director of the Cambridge Historical Society, showed some of the large size maps in the archives of the Hooper Lee Nichols House in Cambridge in 2011.
Dr. George Parkman was murdered in his home at 33 Beacon St. in 1849 for failing to pay back his debt to John Webster.
Webster chopped up Dr. Parkman and scattered his parts into the toilet and furnace. Webster was eventually caught and hung thanks to dental evidence found in the furnace.
Pictured: Daniel Berger-Jones during a Cambridge Historical Tour.
A nurse at Cambridge Hospital confessed to 31 murders in 1902. “Jolly” Jane Toppan overdosed patients on morphine and atrophine and reportedly climbed into their beds as they passed away.
She was deemed insane and she was sent to Taunton’s State Lunatic Hospital.
Pictured: The Old Burying Ground on Massachusetts Ave. in Harvard Square.