Albert Charles Houghton, born 1844 in nearby Vermont, made his fortune as president of Arnold Printworks, the largest employer in North Adams. He was elected the town's first mayor in 1896, and the Houghton Mansion was built for his family.
On August 1st, 1914, Mr. Houghton and his daughter Mary Houghton decided to go to Bennington for a pleasure drive in a brand-new Pierce-Arrow touring car, driven by the family's longtime chauffeur John Widders and accompanied by a doctor, Mrs. Hutton from New York. About 9:30AM, they came up what is now Oak Hill Road and came across a team of horses parked on the right side of the road. Widders turned the car left around it, but the engine started to race at a shoulder bend and the car toppled down a hillside, rolling over three times until it came to rest in an upright position in a farmer's field. Mr. Houghton and Widders escaped with minor injuries, but Mrs. Hutton was killed instantly and Mary Houghton died of her injuries at 3:00PM.
Mr. Houghton, heartbroken over the death of his daughter, died in the mansion 10 days after the accident.