Gardner Lake, Salem

November, 2008 by Ray Bendici
The Damned Story: Gardner Lake in Salem is known for many things -- its natural beauty . . . its excellent fishing . . . an entire house sitting on its murky bottom . . . and of course, its mysterious piano music that seemingly rises from the depths. Okay, one thing at a time. How did a fully intact home get to the bottom of a lake, you ask? Apparently, back in 1895, a family living on one side of the lake wanted to move their home to the other. Applying a little Yankee ingenuity, they decided to wait until the lake froze over so they could jack the house up, put it on sleds and move it the shortest distance -- in a straight line across the ice. The only problem was that they weren't able to get the house all the way across the lake in one day, so they left it in the middle with the intention to come back the next day to finish the job. Unfortunately, Mother Nature finished the move in her own way, weakening the ice overnight just enough to sink a portion of the house. Before it went all the way to the bottom, however, the family was able to get out many possessions except for the biggest items -- a stove, couches and . . . an upright piano. Apparently, the house didn't sink right away -- it actually floated on the lake surface for a few years before giving in to the inevitable. But sink it eventually did, finding a new resting place 30 feet deep on the lake bottom instead of the lake shore. To this day, people who have scuba dived in the lake report that parts of the house and furniture still remain intact, including the aforementioned piano. Okay, that's sort of an unusual thing, right? How many lakes have entire houses in them? The really weird part comes later as, over the years, many of the people who have fished the lake have claimed to heard odd, faint piano music. No one is really sure where it comes from, although most seem to agree the mysterious melodies come from below. And if it is coming from below, then who is tickling the ivories? We've heard of swimming with the fishes -- but no one said anything about musical accompaniment! Our Damned Experience: We have yet to visit Gardner Lake, but it sounds like a nice place to sink down some roots . . .  or a house. If You Go: Gardner Lake is open to the public year round, and can be accessed through a state boat ramp located just off of Route 354 near Route 82. It's bordered by Hopmead State Park on its eastern shore and has a small park of its own on its southwestern shore. View Gardner Lake in a larger map

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Submitted by Jon (not verified) on
That's amazing.

Submitted by Emily (not verified) on
I live near this place and i had no freaking clue there was a house down there. I'm going, and i'm going to listen close!

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
Wow! I never knew there was a house in the lake... I have been there a million times... next time I will listen better!

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on
Definitely going to this site to go fishing soon. I have read a lot about the site, and regardless the location seems like it has a great fishing setting. Someday I'd dive but I don't know if I'd wanna see a house underwater, something about that is unsettling to me.

Submitted by Therese (not verified) on
I'm looking for the name of the private park on Gardner Lake that a man and his son run. They charge for boat lauching and you can rent a dock and picnic table for the day. I'd like to make sure they are open this year. Thanks.

Submitted by Mo (not verified) on
That park that you're looking for Therese does not have a name. It's privately owned and the owners are very difficult to get a hold of... they do not publish their phone number anywhere. You can bring your boat onto the lake via the state boat launch now so no need to rent a dock, although if you do decide to drop an anchor along the lakefront anywhere near the aforementioned privately owned park, the owner will try to charge you for "using his property". The jury is still out as to how valid his property claims are. As always, all visitors are urged to treat beautiful Gardner Lake with care and to leave nothing behind. It's one of the best lakes in the state and cherished by those who are lucky enough to use it.

Submitted by orignally from ... (not verified) on
I have been there many times even when Camp Wakenah was still a scout camp and I never heard the music coming from there, even when I was camping with the scouts there

Submitted by Capree (not verified) on
The private spot on the lake run by the two gentlemen, is located near the dam. Great place to boat and picnic!! I have been going there for 30 years. The also have have a beach you can ski and tube from. The cost for launching is minimal considering the security they offer in watching your vehicle and belongings (NOTE: Numerous boat trailers were stolen from the state launch upper parking lot during the summer of 2012). The place is emaculate... Manicured lawns, etc., They have much to offer.. I am anxiously waiting for the 2013 season to start!!!

Submitted by tom Davis (not verified) on
It used to have poop pumped into it

Submitted by Connecticut Sam (not verified) on
What type of poop?

Submitted by Helen Ericson (not verified) on
Does anyone know where to find any pictures of it

Submitted by Marge (not verified) on
There are pictures of the house partially in the lake and the picture has been reproduced again and again. I would like pictures of the house after 1895 (1899). The first picture of the house 1/2 in the water has 4 men on the porch. The man on the far right is a gr grandfather Olin Fisk Boynton. I have followed this house story for years and was given a book about it for xmas.

Submitted by Brandon (not verified) on
I can only find a picture of a post card. Any idea where I can see the real thing?

Submitted by Robert Lecce (not verified) on
You can see a picture of it in the gardener lake fire dept. in Salem.

Submitted by Alan (not verified) on
I've heard of this house on the frozen lake. Even saw a post card of it at one point.

Submitted by John Howard (not verified) on
I stayed at Camp Wakenah a few summers in the sixties; heard about the house but I thought it was just rural legend; as for the music, never heard a piano but did hear many many bugle calls from us and Camp Trupin (and Trupin's daily announcement "Today's unifoahm is shoahts, sweatiz, and rubbiz" - I guess the Jewish kids there needed extra protection?). Beautiful place, though, Gardner Lake.

I've been camping on Gardner Lake my entire life, and never knew this! What a cool story. I'm actually currently writing a novella set on the lake, so I'll be sure to include this. :)

Submitted by Justin (not verified) on
I am also looking for a name related to the picnic area near the damn. I went to a party there once and it was great. Would like to rent it for a day or so. Wonder why the mystery about who these people are.

Submitted by Rick (not verified) on
It is run by Ed and Mike and is called Miilpond and it is private. I am docked there and the place is great.

Submitted by jeff (not verified) on
Ed and Mike Socha own the Mill Pond Recreation Area. It is a great place to have a gathering. They have ample parking for cars and trailers, a boat launch, rest rooms, docks, charcoal grills (you provide the charcoal) including one party size built-in one, picnic tables, horse-shoe pits, volleyball court and a roped off swimming area. Their fees for holding a party there are based on number of cars parked and number of grills and picnic tables used, but in general are extremely reasonable. I suspect they don't advertise their contact information because they are happy with the level of use their facility gets just by word of mouth. I believe the majority of their business is from local residents who pay seasonal dock fees to keep their boats there.

Submitted by ~Richard Geer (not verified) on
~ My Dad scuba Dived this house in the late fifties with my brother Joe and an Uncle. He brought up a rifle and some dishes as I remember, but We never heard A Panio and we lived on the Lake for sixteen some years. The old Clambake shed & shantys filled with pinball machines & Pool tables was the place to be back Then, my first employment & enjoyment for several years.

Submitted by grohocki (not verified) on
does anyone have a location of this house in the lake...