Mr. Jack Hammond himself is still enjoying
his castle; ever the spectral host and jokester!
In a 1924 letter to his father, John Hays Hammond Jr. shares what his aspirations are for his dream home and laboratory:
“My ambition is to leave a modest, but beautiful, museum.…I want only an authentic atmosphere, some furniture, and genuine architectural pieces — doors, windows, etc. In cold restrained New England, a place with the romantic beauty of the Italian and French past may prove the inspiration of many poor artists and students to come. It will give them something that I have been fortunate enough to know and enjoy. It also gives me satisfaction to think that I may be able to produce something of lasting worth.”
Tom and I visited this beautiful museum and grounds which are really a treasure to behold that is inspiring and awesome, an antique extravaganza set in four structures of the past, thanks to a creative, gifted inventor. He not only collected pieces of art and interesting artifacts, but found a way to offer quite an unusual museum that inspires everyone who walks in the door, a real blast from the past!
As the visitor walks down the steps from the upper parking lot, there are flower beds along the stairway to the entrance. The garden then wraps around the structures to the back, where there is grass and a glorious view of the bay itself. The gravesite of Jack Hammond himself is in the front garden in the corner.
Settled on a piece of ocean access property, there are four connected structures sitting side by side that are a step back in time. Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance French, and Gothic architecture can be enjoyed here.The far west building was inspired by a 15th Century French Chateau, complete with a draw bridge leading into a huge Great Hall, that captures the essence and feel of a 13th Century Gothic Cathedral, which is connected to a 13th Century Castle, with a direct passage into Hammond’s Research Lab.
The Bell Tower and Cloister add a special crowning touch. When we visited, the Chateau wasn’t open but everything else was available to peruse.
These structures are the home of Jack Hammond’s huge collection of 13th-16th antiquities and art from his favorite eras of time, creating a museum full of artistic endeavors that inspire visitors.
My favorite part has to be The Great Hall. A wide, stone staircase leads into The Great Hall that was the most amazing structure, sure to lift you up. It is the most impressive building among the four, a sure crowd-pleaser and quite the place to entertain Hammond’s guests. It has the feel of a Gothic cathedral with its eighty foot ceilings, stained-glass windows, religious artifacts and Hammond’s organ; that he invented with the help of experts.
The 13th Century Castle was my second favorite structure, being the main living space for the Hammonds. In the center of the first floor there is a courtyard with a small, rectangular pool, and with vegetation watered by a lever to provide artificial rain. The second and third floors are built around this courtyard. In the space in front of this pool, is a Roman stone burial box for a child who perished so long ago, something you don’t see everyday. The Library, Living Room, Drawing Room, and bedrooms were all located here, filled with antiques and beauty.
JACK HAMMOND JR, The father of modern Radio and Remote Control
John “Jack” Hays Hammond Jr. was born in San Francisco. At an early age, his family moved to South Africa where his father, a trained mining engineer, worked with mine owners and earned a fortune doing so. At the age of ten, Jack moved with his family to England. He fell in love with the artwork and architectural styles of past eras, especially the Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance French, and Gothic styles, which fueled his adult passion to collect both art and 14th to 15th century pieces of structures.
From England, the Hammond family moved back to the United States, settling along the Atlantic on a choice piece of ocean view property in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Young Jack’s abilities must of appeared early in his life. His father decided to take him along on a business trip to visit Thomas Edison’s main laboratory, in West Orange, New Jersey. Young Jack made quite an impression on Edison because of his intelligent questions, so Edison gave the Hammonds a more extensive tour of his facilities.
Edison’s personal interest in Jack continued and they stayed in close contact through the rest of Edison’s life. Edison was a great mentor to Jack, giving him helpful advice.
Jack went to Yale, attending its Sheffield Scientific School there. He became friends with another American inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, who also became a mentor to young Jack, seeing that Jack had a gifted, talented mind.
Jack graduated from Yale in 1910. Edison advised him that being an inventor can be very profitable. To find out what scientific inventions had become the cutting edge, he got a job in the patent office, as a sort of self-apprenticeship.
After leaving this job, Jack started his own company called the Hammond Radio Research Laboratory, on his parents’ Gloucester estate, like the Davidson brothers who set up their Harley Davidson Co. in their mother’s garage. Jack turned out to be the brilliant inventor that Edison and Bell both saw. Throughout his career, he was awarded 400 patents for his inventions in radio control, electronics, naval weapons, national defense and also consumer products, many for RCA.
Money flowed into his company, some of which he spent on his favorite hobby; collecting antiquities and elements of structures built long ago.
He met the love of his life, Irene Fenton Reynolds of Gloucester, who was married at the time. She fell in love with him also. Irene divorced her husband and married Jack, much to the disapproval of their families. Scandal!
After being told to leave the family estate, Jack bought the vacant land nearby and started to build his dream home seaside residence, from 1926-1929, that was truly one-of-a-kind. It was very large, with four structures that were attached together. All of his collections were put inside or outside near the appropriate structure. One of these structures became his laboratory. He could work and live in the same place, which was a very convenient set-up.
The eighty-seven foot tall Great Hall became a most impressive place to entertain visitors, decorated with real church stain glass windows, church artifacts, medieval items, even a knight’s armour. Hammond’s organ that he invented with the help of organ specialists, was put together and played for private and community concerts, sometimes by famous organists including Richard Elisasser and Virl Fox.
Jack opened up the first two floors of the three structures of his living space to the public as a museum. He reserved his laboratory and third floor bedroom as private spaces.
After he and his wife died, a Hammond Castle organization kept the museum open, and held the community social events here, though the organ stopped working in 2004, and would take a boatload of money to fix it.
Hammond’s dream is being fulfilled in that many visitors are learning and being inspired by what he left behind to encourage us all. Or, has he really left? Who may be keeping him company?
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Hammond Castle Museum offers the full sports package of paranormal activity due to the feelings people had for this special place, for the items on display, and the material of the structures themselves that was brought from Europe to be a part of Jack’s dream home.
Structures where spiritualism has been practiced using seances to conjure up spirits, and other means that were used to contact the spiritual realm, often have open portals, making it easy for spirits to visit.
LeDuc Mansion, MN (The LeDuc sisters and their father practiced spiritualism through seances, opening up spectral portals).
The White House, Washington D.C. (Mrs. Lincoln held seances here, hoping to make contact with her dead sons. This opened a portal, allowing former spectral residents to visit whenever they felt the need to do so).
Villa Montezuma, CA (The original owner, Jess Shepard, was a spiritualist composer who summoned up the spirits of Chopin and Mozart, in his special seance room to help him play music on his piano. The portal is still open, allowing the spirit of Jesse to visit often).
Hammond Castle, MA (Both Jack and Irene Hammond, a psychic, were fascinated with the paranormal and set the table for today’s paranormal investigation groups. He conducted scientific experiments, funded by the Parapsychology Foundation in 1950-1951, using an electrified Faraday cage with psychic Eileen Garrett inside. The Faraday cage was designed to keep out electromagnetic waves, to determine whether ESP used electromagnetic frequencies as a carrier wave. Jack and Irene held seances as well, to perhaps talk to the spirits attached to their artifacts, A portal or two were opened up as a result).
People who once enjoyed living in their dream home while alive, sometimes choose to reside there in their afterlife.
Edith Wharton Estate, MA (This special structure and its grounds were where Edith felt at home, where she wrote twelve of her forty books. It is not surprising that she and her husband Teddy are staying there together while repairing their relationship, now that his mental issues are gone).
1890 House Museum, NY (Former residents have chosen to spend their afterlife in their family forever home, enjoying what they liked to do while alive).
Joslyn Castle, NE (The spirits of the Joslyn family have reunited in their beloved forever home, a glorious castle).
Hammond Castle, MA (Apparently the spirits of the Hammonds, a former employee, and their friends are still enjoying this unique structure).
When cherished artifacts and information are on display in an original structure turned museum, they act like an environmental trigger which draws back the spirits who once owned them. Besides finding peace by being with their favorite possessions, these spirits want to enjoy what is written and displayed about their lives and times; their successes as well.
Belcourt Castle, RI (Among some of the extensive collections of antiquities found here, spirits that have attached themselves to favorite antiques and also enjoy the castle).
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Park, NE (All of Buffalo Bill’s memorabilia and artifacts are on display here, and his spirit likes to visit his stuff and memories, as well as claiming his old bedroom as his special place).
Hill-Stead House, CT (Spectral members of the Pope family love to visit their collections of French Impressionist Paintings, furnishings and decorative arts, along with other artifacts, including Theodate’s grand collection of books on the paranormal and Spiritualism).
Hammond Castle, MA (The interior of the museum looks like the Hammonds just went out for a walk, as it is set up exactly as they liked it. In Jack’s laboratory, all of his accomplishments are on display. The library has Hammond’s entire book collection, furniture and antiques are still where the Hammonds placed them, and their bedroom on the third floor is still off limits to the public, giving them a very private spot to be when the museum is open during the day).
(Spirits that have attached to the antiquities on display in Hammond Castle Museum, are quite happy here. Jack himself said that spirits had attached to some of the items in his large collection).
When a person dies suddenly while doing a job they love, their spirit wants to continue working; not being ready to stop just yet.
Clevelands Grays Armory, OH (A caretaker died of a heart attack in the middle of doing his work list, in a place that he loved).
Brewery Arts Center, NV (The spirit of a dedicated Masonic maintenance officer continues to fulfill his duties).
The Pittsburgh Playhouse, PA (A popular actor of his time, John Johns was looking forward to a role he was to perform on stage. He died suddenly of a heart attack. His spirit still tried to be involved with the theatre before it was torn down. He may have attached to some theatre items that were going to another theatre still standing).
Hammond Castle Museum, MA (Hammond’s groundsman died suddenly while tending to the landscaping around the castle. His spirit has stayed to become an extra spectral employee).
In some cases, friendships last into the afterlife, especially if spirits enjoyed themselves and the company of their hosts while everyone was alive.
Edith Wharton Estate, MA (Spirits of Edith’s friends still enjoy visiting her, as she has chosen to spend her afterlife in the place she loved the most).
Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum, TX (The host and hostess still hold great parties for their friends, complete with music. They even invited the live-in curator to join them!).
Beauregard Keyes House Museum, LA (Parties and dancing are still being held in this house museum’s ballroom, as spirits are still enjoying the great times they had during these social affairs).
Hammond Castle Museum, MA (The Hammonds are still hosting spectral friends; apparently being dead hasn’t hindered their hospitality skills toward their spectral friends).
The Spirit of Jack Hammond
He always seems to be at peace and in a good mood, always the host.
He likes to be sociable to all, as he was while alive.
He has made personal appearances in the Great Hall, by standing in the balcony. He has appeared to Girl Scouts, visitors, docents, workmen, and paranormal investigators.
People have heard his footsteps, an unusual sound indeed, because of the special shoes he wore to
help with his feet issues.
When investigators ask for a sign of his presence, they can hear a male voice answering them, or he finds other ways to communicate, such as swinging the chandelier, or other playful ways.
The Spirit of Irene Hammond
Her spirit is described as being pleasant, cordial, but restless.
Her apparition has been seen moving around the castle.
She likes to look out the windows of the castle and enjoy the view of the courtyard and pool.
Her favorite bedroom on the second floor is in the back, The Medieval Room.
Irene will also communicate with the living if they ask her questions.
Her apparition was seen by a visitor, who ran to tell the docent that a woman was sleeping on the museum bed.
When the docent came to scold the naughty visitor, no one was there, as she had disappeared. If the woman had been living, there would’ve been no time to get off the bed and out of the room.
The visitor could identify the woman as being Irene after looking at a picture of her.
The Spirit of Hammond’s Groundsman
This spirit was profoundly disappointed about suddenly dying on the job.
Apparently, the museum has a spectral gardener who is not on the payroll.
To make himself feel better, his apparition has been seen tending to young plants, as well as helping to take care of the gardens and landscaping.
Perhaps he is a friendly unseen presence who follows the living gardeners around, to make sure they do their yard chores correctly, and to see if they need his help.
Spectral Friends of the Hammonds
Spectral friends enjoy themselves at the Hammonds.
They like to photo-bomb visitors’ pictures of the castle’s Library. Visitors have complained to the museum about this.
Disembodied voices have been recorded in the library as they may still be discussing topics of interest with their host Jack Hammond.
Leading Spectral Tours
Being a good host, the spirit of Jack may give spectral guests a tour of his castle.
The voices of spirits can be heard up on the balcony of the Great Hall, perhaps conversing with the Hammonds. They may enjoy watching the living gape at the beauty of the Great Hall.
These spirits seem to be happy and at peace.
Personal appearances by unknown spirits have been spotted by the living just walking around and enjoying the exhibits and items on display, as well as the interesting decor of the castle that may help them feel at home.
They may be spectral guests of the Hammonds, spectral tourists who have found their way here through an open portal, or spirits attached to the antiquities collected by the Hammonds and on display.
Auditory cues of their presences such as disembodied voices, footsteps, etc., suggest their unseen presences as well.
Docents, visitors, employees and workmen have had personal experiences for years with the spirits that reside or visit this magnificent castle.
Paranormal investigators are never disappointed, as the spirits here are benign and welcoming. The TV series, Ghost Hunters (TAPS), found that out when they filmed an episode there (Season 8, Ep 23). The spirit of Jack found direct and fun ways to communicate with the TAPs crew; sitting near them in the library so they could feel his friendly presence, vocal utterances, swinging lights and chandeliers and making his distinct footsteps.
When Ghost Hunters (TAPS) put devices on the bed where the apparition of a woman had startled a visitor, they had a conversation with the spirit of Irene who was cordial and answered all their questions.
A big YES INDEED is in order!
The spirit of Jack Hammond is still the friendly host with a sense of humor for both the living and spirits as well.There is a positive energy that permeates the structure, making everyone, whether living or dead, happy to visit or work there.
The spirit of Irene finds peace for her restlessness by staying with Jack in their forever home. She may have unresolved issues about the divorce from her first husband, and the furor it caused when she married the love of her life, Jack. Jack paid a price as he was shunned by his own family for marrying Irene, though he still wrote letters to his father.
Hammond Castle Museum
80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester, MA 0193
Hammond Castle property is located on seven acres by the Atlantic coast in the Magnolia area of Gloucester, Massachusetts. It sits on a rocky cliff that has a great view of Gloucester Harbor, Norman’s Woe Rock Reef and Cape Ann.
- Hammond Castle – Wikipedia
Rebecca Beatrice Brooks April 16, 2012 4 Commentson John Hammond, Jr.’s,Telepathic Experiments at Hammond Castle
- NRHP Reference Number: 73000298