(The Charlesgate Hotel)

1 Charlesgate East, Boston, MA

535 Beacon Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Status: Former Hotel and Residence; Former Female Dormitory; Luxury Apartment Residences


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Designed by J. Pickering Putnam in 1891 this building is impressive and unique to say the least. It’s a reminder of a Boston that is long lost; one of beauty, peace and elegance.

Of course, its also considered one of the most haunted sites in Boston, Massachusetts and possibly the entire United States but we’ll get to that below.

The original purpose of the building was a hotel and a residence for the Putnam family.

It is 7 stories high and shaped like an elongated C. Until 1908 long term residents of the hotel were even given a plot of land with grass and flowers on it.

The architect - Mr Putnam - lived in the building until his death in 1917 (and yes, the stories are true he did pass away in the building). His wife Grace continued to live there until 1923 when the building was sold to a hotelier; Herbert Summers. Mr Summers owned the hotel until 1937 when he too passed away.

Ownership passed to his wife, Fanny, who continued to live there with family until her death in 1947.

In 1947 the building was sold to Boston University who renovated it top to bottom and used it as a girl’s dormitory.

From 1970 until 1981 there were many owners and the building was used as a rooming house and cheap apartments; this is also when it gained a rather nasty reputation based on it’s tenants.

In 1981 Emerson College bought the building and it was used as a student dormitory again.

In 1996 the current owners, Charlesgate Realty Trust LLC, took over and made massive renovations again. Today, the building has 56 luxury apartments which can be bought or rented - $3000 a month in 2022.

The building is now private property and cannot be entered until you are a resident or a guest.


Paranormal Activity

There are numerous stories and legends about the Charlesgate.

Yes, a man did commit suicide in the building but it is the only suicide historically verifiable. Apparently, an alarm clock – even though it was not set – went off the same time every morning at his time of death from that point on. At this point the building has been renovated so many times it would be impossible to locate where the suicide took place making this legend untestable.

The first floor is said to be haunted by ghost horses who died in their stable when the Mud River flooded. Its certainly possible – and many people have seen the horses – but there are no building plans showing there was ever a stable on the grounds.

Putnam’s young daughter, Elsa, is said to have chased her ball down one of the hallways and fell down an open elevator shaft to her death. There is no historical account of this fatal accident but the rich have been hiding things from the public since time eternal so who knows. The apparition of a young girl is seen to this day running, laughing and playing in the halls.

Elsa is said to be always looking for new playmates. Should you be able to enter the building you could always apply and see what happens.

Harry Houdini himself performed seances in the Charlesgate as part of a series of test for a medium. During these tests spirits of the dead were invited into the building but Houdini ultimately declared a medium a fraud.

During the times the building was used as a dormitory it is said students used Ouija boards in their rooms and contacted the ghosts trapped in the building. I don’t know about you but I did the same while living in residence in the University of Guelph and while some residences are haunted for sure this story is really neither here nor there.

There is also a story that the mafia owned the building in the early 20th century – again there is no historical proof of this – and they executed multiple people in rooms and the elevators. People report seeing the apparitions of these victims throughout the building; especially in the elevators.

There are stories of numerous student suicides when Emerson College used the building as a residence. This is just plain inaccurate as the College would have records of these suicides and it has not one report of a student suicide here in it’s records.

While we were unable to find any reports of paranormal activity since the building was converted into apartments that’s also neither here nor there. After all, if you tell people your apartment is haunted, they may think you crazy. There are uncountable records of places suddenly becoming un-haunted when new owners took over.

Activity Reported by Students And/Or People Staying in the building during it’s transitory history (1947 – 1995): apparitions; shadow figures; sudden unexplainable gusts of cold winds; doors and windows opening and closing on their own; objects moving on their own; alarms going off without ever having been set; toilets flushing on their own; toilets slamming up and down on their own; lights turning on and off by themselves; radios, record players and CD/cassette turning on and playing music on their own; batteries being completely drained in seconds; disembodied voices; unexplained noises of various kinds; sudden drops or increases in temperatures; faces appearing in windows; phantom footsteps; light anomalies and, of course, feelings of unease and anxiety as well as being followed, being watched and never really being alone.

On a personal note – there are certain locations that seem to resist being researched – Sloss Furnances in Birmingham, Alabama is another site like this – and this is one of them. I had no end of computer problems, Wi-Fi connectivity issues, internet issues etc while trying to do the research on the Charlesgate.

When looking up the address on Google Maps the location for the building kept changing and bouncing all over Boston. I’ve never had this happen before.

Maybe some places just do not want to be noticed. Makes one think. . .