Two of Deadwood’s most prominent early citizens lived in the Adams House. One of their spirits has remained to watch over the home. Deadwood’s haunted Victorian mansion is now a museum dedicated to the life and work of W.E Adams, a man who served as mayor for six terms. His ghost haunts the old Victorian mansions alongside his life’s belongings.
The home was boarded up in 1936, two years after W.E Adams’s passing. His wife, Mary, left it exactly as is, leaving bedsheets, china, and other belongings behind. She kept hearing her deceased husband wandering about the 2nd floor and decided life would be better in sunny California.
The home became a bed and breakfast in 1988 and a museum in 2000. There are constant reports and sightings of old W.E Adams, making it one of the most haunted mansions in Deadwood.
The Franklin family and the Adams family were two of Deadwood’s most prominent citizens around the turn of the 20th century. The Franklin Family, who built the historic home in 1892, came to Deadwood in 1877 at a time when essential services were in high demand.
Harris Franklin and his wife Anna had their hands in various industries: cattle, alcohol, banking, and, of course, gold mining. They accumulated a small fortune and bought four acres of land between 1883 and 1890.
Their beautiful home was constructed in 1893 at the cost of $300,000 in today’s money. Although this is a relatively small fare, the home came with the most modern of amenities. Indoor plumbing, electricity, and central heating all made life easy in the 10-bedroom, red sandstone-lined building. It was considered the finest home in Deadwood and still is!
In 1904, Harris and Anna sold their home to their son, Nathan, for just one dollar! Nathan lived here while continuing to grow the family business and name. He served as Mayor for two terms and incorporated the Consolidated Power & Light Company of Deadwood and Leed.
In 1920, he sold the home to his former political rival, W.E Adams, and moved to New York.
W.E Adams, six-time mayor of Deadwood and former town grocery, had a string of poor luck in his family life during his third term. Shortly after purchasing the house, his wife Alice had been diagnosed with cancer.
Alice died while visiting their daughter Helen in Michigan, sending the poor young and pregnant Helen into a state of shock. A premature birth followed, killing both mother and child.
A heartbroken W.E Adams carried on, remarrying a woman named Mary who was some forty years younger! While many suspected she was more than your typical Deadwood gold digger, these doubts were squelched when she convinced Adams to open The Adams Family Museum in honor of Alice and their family.
W.E Adams and Mary lived happily in their sought-after home for many years. But, in 1934, Adams died of a stroke inside the home. Two years later, in 1936, she packed up and moved to California, leaving the house behind as is. She claimed her husband was haunting the building and couldn’t stand to be there any longer.
All of the Adams’ belongings, the bedsheets, china, silverware, and medicine, were left to gather dust. And they did so for the next fifty years. In 1987, Mary Adams finally sold the homes to a young couple, Bruce and Rebecca Crosswait. Age had taken its toll on the Victorian home; the roofs were caving in, and water damage was evident.
The two opened a bed and breakfast to pay for the repairs. Almost immediately, they learned why Mary Adams left – the house was haunted by Deadwood’s former mayor!
In 1992, the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission purchased the building and turned it into the museum we see today. Over 80% of the furnishings in the home are original, making W.E Adams even more at home in his old mansion.
Tours are offered of the beautiful manor, and many have met the man of the house on multiple occasions! Objects often float around the second floor, and the stench of cigar smoke quickly follows.
During tours, Mary’s rocking chair has swayed back and forth, seemingly on its own. A sure signal that W.E Adams is thinking of his beloved wife.
His first wife has not been forgotten; her photo has fallen off the wall during tours on numerous occasions. Museum operators consider W.E Adams to be a friendly spirit, and he seems pleased to welcome new guests into his home.
Come and be one of these guests to The Adams Home and the rest of Deadwood! The ruff and tumble gold mining town is filled with history and haunted places. Take a guided ghost tour with one of our experienced tour guides to see for yourself! In the meantime, check out our blog to get more excited about your adventure through Deadwood, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.