In the recurring dream, I see her silhouette from a gold-colored Victorian’s second floor. She’s upset. I can see an outline of what looks like a tightly wound bun in her hair. Her clothing is late 1800s school marm and she looks much older than her actual age. I would guess she’s in her 20s. The woman is a caretaker of sorts and is protecting the home from forces out of her control. She’s losing the battle and is calling me from the light for help.
Think Mary Poppins but without the spoonful of sugar.
In my dream, she’s serving up daggers. Something horrible happened in that house and she is begging the living to help her. I could hear her singing a folk song from the window. She was throwing books and papers at me from the home’s second floor. She’s saying what I remember as “sefnock” over and over at a shadowy man who is in the room with her. I’m terrified.
--Photos by Jason Baker
My dream of Mattie was in 2011. I was writing what would become my first book, Ghosts of Boston: Haunts of the Hub. I initially thought she was the “stay behind” spirit, the seamstress I lovingly called “scissor sister,” who haunted my home in Somerville’s Davis Square. I was wrong. The dream was prophetic in a way. I didn’t make a connection to the haunted S.K. Pierce Victorian Mansion in Gardner until I saw a photo of the structure posted online in late 2014. My friends Rachel Hoffman and Tina Storer from Paranormal Xpeditions were investigating the location and I had a severe reaction when I saw a post from the Victorian structure because I’d seen it repeatedly in my dreams.
I swore I would never go there. But here I am—going to the very spot where Mattie Cornwell once lived. What was I thinking?