Secrets of the Oliver House


Still standing tall in Middleborough, Massachusetts is a beautiful Georgian style home on a 55-acre estate. Houses built in colonial New England were similar in style and structure, but the plethora of unrevealed history contained within the Oliver Estate makes it especially unique compared to the rest.

Assistant Ghost Tour Manager, Chris Andrade, has been a volunteer at the house for a handful of years now, and with each day, she finds there are still new things to learn about it.

“History books don’t even begin to touch on the part of American history that it plays into,” she shared.

No one has lived in the Oliver House for quite some time, but vacant it is not.

To maintain its condition and historical accuracy, 100 percent of the money made from the tours they host goes right back into the house.

These tours are offered once or twice every month. The prices range from $20 to $50 per person depending on the type and length of the tour, and they even welcome private teams to come and investigate the house for $300. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, private team investigations are limited to eight people.

When I said the house isn’t vacant, I wasn’t just referring to its volunteers and visiting enthusiasts. Walking the halls and the grounds are presences far beyond the living.


It was a pleasure to chat with Andrade. I gained an immense wealth of mind-blowing, truly interesting knowledge about American history that left me wondering how on Earth my history teachers managed to leave the Oliver House out of our grade school curriculum.

So, that’s where I’ll begin.

As Andrade told the story, it was the year 1769 when the house was built as a wedding gift for a man named Peter Oliver and his bride, Sally Hutchinson.

It had pale-yellow clapboard siding on the front and sides, and unpainted cedar shake siding on the back. Its 26 windows and eight fireplaces welcomed natural light and heat, and the shutters were painted a dark green color to match both the front and side doors. Outside the back door was a picturesque garden maze leading to acres of woods.

The backyard

Far back beyond where the Nemasket River runs through the property, there was a Native American tribe that made a home in those very woods. The Wampanoag tribe was led by Chief Metacomet, or King Phillip (his adopted English name). They lived rather comfortably with fertile land and a river full of herring to fish in. When settlers came, they introduced the natives to diseases they were not used to, and most of them eventually ended up being wiped out by smallpox.

The property became a burial ground for the tribe. Supposedly, 1500 or so natives are buried in the woods behind the Oliver House and the burial mounds are still apparent throughout the property, as are some very outgoing elementals.

All houses were built with balloon framing, so there was a lot of space in the walls, especially behind chimneys, which people would use as small rooms. If there was an Indian attack by someone

Through the front door of the Oliver House is the main staircase. To the left is the men’s parlor – also known as the Benjamin Franklin room, and behind it on the back-left corner is the dining room. Between the Franklin room and the dining room is the library closet and another closet referred to as “Earl’s drinking closet.”

The Benjamin Franklin room

To the right of the stairs is the women’s parlor, and behind it on the back-right corner is the old kitchen. Between the parlor and the old kitchen, there’s a fireplace with a hideaway behind it and stairs leading down to the cellar.

The foyer looking into the women’s parlor

On the second floor above the Franklin room is Peter’s bedroom, which leads into a closet connecting his room with the Henry or “Harry” Champion-Jones room on the back-left corner.

Along the back hallway are two bedrooms for governesses or helpers, and then on the back-right corner is the children’s room. Wrapping back around to the front-right, above the women’s parlor, is Sally’s bedroom.

Before the children’s room, there is a set of servant stairs that lead down into the old kitchen and up into the attic. The attic is one of the only parts of the house that no one has ever seen, as it’s too hazardous. The volunteers hope to explore it one day.

The seemingly complex layout is larger than the house itself, though, in its time, it was rather luxurious. It still sits on the same huge estate, which wasn’t uncommon for people of the Olivers’ and Hutchinsons’ social ranking, as Peter’s father was the judge who presided over the Boston Massacre trials, and Sally’s father was the governor of Massachusetts.

Supposedly, Peter was roommates with Sally’s brother while he was at Harvard studying to be a doctor. After he met Sally, he basically told her brother that she was agreeable, and they ended up being together for almost five years before they got engaged – seldom occurrent in the 1700s.

Both families were loyal to the crown, which was also unheard of then, as people on this continent were trying to start a revolution specifically to get away from the crown.

The Sons of Liberty demanded that the two families switch sides and join them immediately, but they refused, as the crown provided funding and gave them their livelihood. Despite the Sons’ demand, they stood by the crown claiming it had never done them wrong.

The Olivers were known for throwing lavish dinner parties, and many famous historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, were guests at the house for these parties.

It was around 1772 or 1773 when Benjamin Franklin received word of a packet of letters that had been written between Judge Oliver, Governor Hutchinson, and Thomas Whately. The three had exchanged communication back and forth with the King, discussing funding and such until the Sons of Liberty intervened.

Unbeknownst to Sally, those letters were stashed in her bedroom closet.

Her closet was catty-cornered to face the rest of the room. Just above the inner frame of the door was a small lip – maybe two inches in width and effective in its secrecy, as not many people ever knew it was there, including Andrade and her fellow volunteers at the house – until recently, that is.

After discovering the hiding spot just a few years ago, they came up with a theory that they believe the American Revolution may not have happened without, albeit insignificant in this regard at the time.

“Ben Franklin being a man and a guest in this house wouldn’t necessarily have made his way upstairs into the women’s chamber to steal this packet of letters from her bedroom. What we think happened is: who would know that room better than anyone, even Sally?” Andrade asked.

Sally’s chambermaid.

Chambermaids made next to nothing. Besides the occasional schilling, they got room and board.

“So, put yourself in a chambermaid’s position,” she continued. “What if all of a sudden, this powerful man comes and offers you a great sum of money to get his hands on these letters? Her being in that bedroom wouldn’t raise any red flags and she would know where these things were.”

However he got them, whether their theory is correct or not, Franklin did, in fact, get a hold of the letters.

He read their contents and decided to sit on them; keeping them out of the public’s hands for as long as he could. He soon traveled over to Holland for business during which he made the Sons of Liberty aware that he had them. They wanted him to bring the letters back promptly, and so he did. He told them that if he handed the letters over, they had to give him their word that they’d stay quiet about them.

Well, they took possession of the letters and did the exact opposite of what Franklin requested. The Sons read them aloud from the steps of Faneuil Hall.

People wanted to be free from the King, so this obviously angered them. To express their savagery, they stoned one of Peter’s brothers in the streets of Plymouth. He made his way to Oliver Hall, which was on a hill across the street from the house on their property.

They wanted the Olivers gone no matter what it took. The foundation of their lives was crown money and they didn’t stand for it. It wasn’t long before the Sons of Liberty looted and burned Oliver Hall to the ground.

The Olivers were given an ultimatum by the Sons. They could choose to turn away from the crown or leave with what was on their backs and never return. So, the Olivers scooped up their children and fled for their lives up to Boston, then to Canada, and eventually to London, where they stayed for the rest of their lives. They never came back to the United States, even to visit.

The Oliver House was left behind.

The Sons of Liberty took over, inventoried and sold all the Olivers’ belongings, bought tons of Oliver-made ammunition from Oliver Mill, and then turned that ammunition on the Red Coats.

It was from Oliver Mill that this very ammunition fired the shot heard ‘round the world: the shot that started the American Revolution.

The house was also part of the underground railroad. Prior to Abraham Lincoln abolishing slavery, slaves would pass through on their way to the free states.

There was a tunnel that went from under the barn into the basement of the house that wasn’t initially made for slaves to use. When Judge Oliver would come through, if he wanted to go undetected from the Sons of Liberty, this tunnel was used to sneak him in under the radar. It’s been collapsed for a long time, but the entrance has been partially identified inside the house.

How the slaves knew that the Oliver House was a safe haven is unknown, but it’s assumed that there was some sort of hidden sign, such as a candle in a window for them to see at night, or simply by word of mouth.

As far as the volunteers know, the hideaway next to the cellar stairs is the only one in the house.

Following the Olivers, the house became home to a few governors, a merchant, and then the Westin family, who ended up having the house for the longest amount of time into the 19th century. They took over the mill and had quite a few children.

The daughter, Bethania, was born in the house, willed the house after her parents died, got married to Earl Sprout in the house, lost three of their children in the house, and at around 90-years-old, died in the house.

Hers is one of the spirits that still occupies the Oliver House.

Following the Westin-Sprout family, the Champion-Jones family lived there for some time. Descendants of both families, as well as the Oliver family, continue to visit.

“If you stand there and you think about all the people that have walked on those floorboards or touched the railings of the stairs going upstairs, it can really blow your mind.”

Visitors and volunteers regularly experience paranormal activity in the house and on the property, even from the spirits of pets that belonged to occupants of the house throughout the years.

“When you see a full-body apparition for the first time, it changes something in you. You just sit there and try to rationalize it,” Andrade explained.

Her very first encounter with a full-body apparition took place on July 1, 2017, during a Ghosts of the Revolution tour, about a year after she started volunteering at the Oliver House. The group was doing an EVP session up in Peter Oliver’s bedroom with a special guest.

On top of the normal July heat and humidity, Andrade and the other volunteers were dressed in full costume as characters from the 1700s. She was no stranger to getting easily overwhelmed in large crowds, especially because of her empathic sensitivities, so she decided to venture off to the next bedroom to catch her breath and gather her thoughts.

“I started walking through the huge closet to get back to the group of people in Peter’s room. I looked to my left and there was this girl standing there in the same kind of dress I was in, with a bonnet on her head. I was like: ‘What the hell? Why is Christy [the Ghost Tour Manager] hiding in the closet?’.”

Her initial thought was that she was being pranked.

“I looked at the girl again and I realized ‘Oh my God, this isn’t Christy!’,” she said. “Her most prominent feature was her eyes. They were huge. It didn’t look natural.”

It took Andrade a moment to realize that she had a bonafide apparition standing in front of her. She scanned through some options in her head before reacting. Had she announced to the group in the next room over what was standing in front of her, they would have either stormed the closet or pushed themselves down the stairs to get out of the house as fast as possible.

“So, I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “In a split second, I looked back over at this girl, and just as quickly, she put her finger up to her lips as if to say: ‘Don’t tell.’ She took one step backward and into the wall she disappeared.”

They tore the closet apart searching for the chambermaid Andrade had seen, but she was nowhere to be found. It took her days to fully wrap her head around the experience and get confirmation that she wasn’t going insane.

“Christy just told me like a year ago: ‘I knew you had seen something because you were different.’”


I visited the Oliver House in the summer of 2017 with my mother and my ex-boyfriend. We participated in an overnight trip to Middleborough with our paranormal investigation team and conducted an investigation in the house and on the property.

Upon our arrival, the sun was still shining brightly. Our stakeout wasn’t due to begin until sundown, so the house remained empty until then. We took advantage of the nice weather and leisurely observed the charming atmosphere. The three of us took turns posing for pictures in front of the big yellow house. That in itself was a treat.

Volunteers came and let all of us inside at dusk. We set everything up and jumped right in. Hours were spent moving from room to room, during which a decent amount of activity accumulated through the use of ghost boxes, EVPs, and other equipment.

Sally Hutchinson’s bedroom on the front-right corner of the upstairs, looking out onto the front lawn. Credit: Chris Andrade

Some time into the investigation, I wandered alone up to Sally’s room. I remember feeling drawn to the area in front of her closet and window. I always trust my intuition because I’ve lived my whole life exceptionally in tune with the supernatural, and it’s never failed me.

I stood in that spot for a while, looking out the window onto the front lawn where we’d taken pictures that afternoon, and eventually, my mother and boyfriend followed. I explained to them that I’d felt nothing significant before entering this room and that I was heavily affected by a male presence in the exact spot I was standing.

It sparked curiosity in us, but nothing more immediately came of it, so we carried on with the rest of the investigation.

Our time in the Oliver House flew by, as time well-spent usually does. Before we knew it, it was the next morning, and we were back in the car on our way home to New York.

My ex, who started the trip as a skeptic, left it feeling a little more open – much to my excitement.

He spent the drive skimming through all the pictures we took at the house, zooming in on some of them to get a closer look.

Ironically, as he got to the picture of his then skeptical self standing in front of the house, he let out a gasp.

Naturally, I turned to see if he was okay, and he looked back at me with an expression much like he’d seen a ghost (ha).

When he turned his cellphone around to share what had made him gasp, I, too, had to pick my jaw up off the car floor. I was overwhelmed with excitement and a whole lot of goosebumps, so we pulled the car over to sit and study the photo.

Up in the very window where I’d felt the male presence the night prior, this is what we saw:

Out of the hundreds of pictures we’d snapped, both inside and outside, how is it that the only one of him was clearly photobombed by an apparition?

Perhaps, it wasn’t a coincidence at all. Perhaps, it served, instead, almost as a challenge accepted in the face of his skepticism.

You don’t believe in ghosts, you say?

Whoever was looking out at us that day, I haven’t got a clue, but I do know that what I see when I look at that picture is genuinely unmistakable.

It isn’t every day that someone comes face to face with such a striking apparition as the one Andrade encountered, but she did say that every person who leaves the house leaves with some sort of personal experience, and boy can I vouch for that.

Andrade fully believes that there are more secrets that the house hasn’t given up yet, but she trusts its walls that have talked before to reveal in due time what else they hold within.