Monday, March 16, 2009

House Stories: Haunted House

House Stories is a collection of personal narratives, a teaching experiment in History of Domestic Architecture (Wesleyan ARTS 637). See Introduction, and Table of Contents.


By Tyler Webb

I grew up in Glastonbury, a town full of architectural history and heritage here in Connecticut. Main St. is littered with 18th century Georgian and Adam style homes and one feels right in the heart of New England taking a stroll through the center of town. I can remember hearing stories of the Underground Railroad and mysterious supernatural occurrences related to a number of these houses but none of these tales or homes left an impression on me in comparison to the abandoned “haunted” home in East Glastonbury located down the street from two of my friends.

It sat on the corner of New London Turnpike and Manchester Road, looking straight out of “The Munsters” or “The Addams Family”, two black and white tv programs whose reruns played on Saturday mornings following cartoons. Based on my memory, it looked like either a Gothic revival or Stick Victorian home, vertically imposing with a large tower on one end. The home was visually intimidating and the style stood out amongst the countless colonials found in town. It was apparent in its day the home was magnificent, the crown of neighborhood, with many aesthetic details but years of neglect left it dilapidated and run-down. Around the home was overgrown with vines growing up the side of the house. A mangy mixture of weeds and shrubs veiled the view of the house from the road. Window panes were broken randomly through the house and a large black and orange, “Danger, Keep Out!” sign was visible in a first floor window. The house occupied a large lot and there were no other properties on either side of it. This isolation only added to its mystique. Every time my mother drove me past the home chills went down my spine and thoughts of ghosts, zombies, and evil doings filled my head.

Details of the home’s actual history were unknown, but for young boys with wild imaginations haunted stories and tall tales were easy to create. My friends and I never were brave enough to explore in and around the house but we had a pretty good idea of what we would find if we did. We constantly talked about the terrifying things that went on in the home. One story that frequently was discussed and exaggerated concerned a dead raccoon found in an upstairs bathroom. The animal was supposedly found in a dingy bathtub with an ax still stuck in it. We never doubted the story’s validity, much like a small child never questions Santa Claus’ existence.

We expanded the story, giving cause to the presence of a murdered animal in an abandoned 19th century home. According to us, there was a group of devil worshipping pagans who used the home to perform their rituals. Supposedly, candles were littered throughout, trails and streaks of blood on the walls, and from time to time (according to my friend) shrieks could be heard by those passing the home. I never met a pagan, or a devil worshipper for that matter, but I was certain of their existence. Many of the stories and legends my friends and I shared depended on these mythical social deviants and I imagined them dwelling in homes like the stick Victorian I passed every time I went to my friend’s.

The haunted home of my youth was eventually knocked down, leaving nothing but a grassy field in its place. Its absence does not mean it is forgotten in my mind. I have found a new home, just like it to fill my mind with thoughts of scary happenings and tales. The house is close to my father’s home, just off the Berlin Turnpike. Its appearance mirrors that of the home of my youth; it stands alone, and just like the other house it is in disrepair. A little twist with this home is that people live in it, making me believe that if I rang the doorbell I would meet a devil worshipping pagan for the first time.


Tyler Webb is currently a Wesleyan GLSP student, with plans of completing his Master's in Summer 2009. He is a high school history teacher in Simsbury, CT and resides in Avon, CT with his wife.

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