Spooky Boston

Spooky Boston

Spooky.  Probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Boston…

Historic? YES.
Confusing to drive through? YES.
Spooky? Nope…Salem gets that crown.

But never fear, Boston has two really unique spooky spots that not a lot of people know about if you are willing to search them out off the beaten path.

Warren Anatomical Museum

Years ago, putting skeletons and casts of genetic oddities on display was thought of as the normal thing to do. Much like naturalists did with animals, doctors would go around and get casts or the bones of people who were considered odd. Many of these items ended up at places like the Warren Anatomical Museum which holds around 15,000 items including two very unique pieces.

Three (well, 2 ½) of these pieces are on display in the small museum on the Harvard Medical Campus. Nestled in a display case, there are two pieces of skull and a long metal rod. All of these items belonged to a man named Phineas Gage.

Born in 1823, Gage made medical news and history when a 3 plus foot tamping iron was shot through his head due to a work-accident. The iron traveled through his jaws, behind his eye, through his brain, and eventually out his skull. The explosion caused the iron to land 80 feet away covered in blood and brains (eewww!) While that didn’t kill Gage, it did change his life forever until his death in 1860. 6 years later, one of his previous doctors asked the family to exhume Gage’s body and send him the skull, they also sent the iron that caused the injury. These and other intriguing items are on display inside 4 book cases at the Museum.


You can stop by and see Gage’s skull between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

The Ether Dome

Located on the campus of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Ether Dome was used as an operating theater beginning in 1821. Located on the top floor, the windows allowed for greater light to enter into the room and its remote location helped to keep the screams of patients away from the other floors. Surgery in the 1800s was horrific. This began to change in 1846 with the first successful  demonstrated use of ether as an anesthesia during an operation. Hiding in the corner of the room, tucked in among the doctors and observers of that operation was a very different visitor though.

Known as MGH’s oldest patient, Padihershef arrived in Boston on April 26, 1823 and was eventually gifted to the Hospital. Soon after his arrival, Padihershef was put on display to help raise money for MGH. Visitors could pay 25 cents to see the first complete Egyptian mummy in the United States. After touring the country for a year, the mummy was placed in the Ether Dome where he still is to this day.

It wasn’t until 1960 that his true identity was discovered when a curator from the Museum of Fine Arts examined the hieroglyphics on the coffin which came with Padihershef. From these hieroglyphics, they finally learned his name and birthplace (Thebes).

Padihershef is on display year-round in the Ether Dome, which can be visited weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm.


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Spooky places to visit in Boston, MA for free!

14 thoughts on “Spooky Boston

  1. What unique spots in Boston! The Warren Anatomical Museum looks very interesting to visit! I’ve been to the city once, but definitely would love to go back soon. There’s so much to see!

    1. Seriously! There is a ghost tour through Boston and its mostly just a Freedom Trail tour with someone in a grave digger’s outfit. Lame 😉

  2. I would love to visit Boston again. It has been a long time. I am a doctor and have seen quite enough skeletons and such. I will stick with more obviously touristy things.

    1. Definitely can’t compete with Salem, but with the fog coming in lately through the graveyards it totally has been spooky 😉

  3. Wow, this is all brand new to me. I think that’s the advantage of staying in a place a little longer, you get to find some real gems. I would totally visit this museum next time I go.

  4. Would never have associated Boston with this kind of museum! Quirky museums are fun sometimes and this one seems to have kicked things up a notch with all its scary artefacts.

  5. Really spooky indeed. I remember seeing pictures of Gage’s skull and the road in an old volume of Believe it or Not, owned by my Dad. The museum does hold a macabre fascination and I would definitely head there when in Boston.

  6. This is fun, I would love this!! We visited Boston a few years back and have always wanted to re-visit and spend more time there, we’ll make sure to see the spooky side of the city next time!

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