Thursday, March 21, 2013

Horror and Historic House Hunting

There is nothing quite so nice as watching the rain outside while listening to Motown classics...
Which is what I am doing right now whilst taking a breather from work.
I need a minute to relax, because the week has been hectic and exhausting! The last 2 nights after working full days, Eli and I have gone out house hunting.

And it has been as unsuccessful as unsuccessful can be.
If this were an official science experiment, it would have been scrapped already because of contamination.
If it were a new plant growing, half the buds would be dead and it would be lopsided in the still-green places.
I don't know if those metaphors even made sense.
Which is fine because house hunting does not make much sense.  It is nuts. And fun to see the different houses and how people decorate, but sometimes you shudder inside when you realize people live like this.

We saw a house that was a total piece of shit. The kitchen was wallpapered in Tabasco advertisements and there was foam seeping up through the fake wooden floors in the main room.
And if you know me, you know I have a phobia of foam, so I basically ran out of that house screaming.
Then, in contrast, we saw a house that was veeeeery nice and overpriced and had those ridiculous 22 foot ceilings that you need 2 ladders and a team of workers to change the lightbulbs in.  It even had a "mud room" off the garage and those showers that are entirely enclosed with glass.
But it was also part of those awful subdivisions they plop in wherever they can find land (in this case, in the middle of a not-so-nice old neighborhood full of ramblers 1/6 the size of these new houses.  And the view of the mountains is gorgeous... until their build the next house directly beyond your little backyard and then you get to look out on the neighbors taking a dump (if they're the kind that don't close their blinds appropriately).  I hate that.
What is the point of buying a house in the Salt Lake valley if you can't enjoy the mountains?!

Then we found a sweet old home-- red brick with Queen Anne's lace trim on the front patio and a tower room in front, Victorian style (I adore Queen Anne's lace and front towers)!!!!
It had big old beautiful trees and a nice yard.
So we went to check it out with our realtor.
Winchester Mystery House. 
It looked so innocent from the outside...little did we know that this movie is like those that they make horror films out of...

We stepped inside and it felt cold. Not like "I can see my breath!" but just that chill you get deep in your heart when you are afraid and don't know why (what Holly Golightly called the Mean Reds).

The whole time we were exploring this house, I felt like we were being watched and was so convinced of the presence of someone else, I was ready for someone to be standing in the kitchen going "oh hi, we are viewing the house as well."  But there was no one else there--just Eli, myself, and our realtor Mike.
The setup was really psychotically twisted.  It reminded me of that house in Rose Red that is based on the Winchester Mystery House, where stairways go to nowhere and you turn around and a closet has appeared where there was no closet before.
I don't even have any photos of the inside because I was so scared out of my wits I did not want to be distracted snapping pictures with my phone when I sensed the serial killer that owns the house was about to snake his hand out of the crawl space and yank me in.

The worst part was the root cellar.
I literally have goose bumps as I write this...

More from Winchester...
We found this half-door in the middle of the house and opened it up and there was a pit of darkness with rickety, miniature wooden stairs leading downward.  Mike bravely led the way with his flashlight held in front of him, and Eli and I followed, but that light was not enough to illuminate this huge, dirt room. Literally, the walls were dirt and crawling with giant spiders, and it looked like the basement pit where the Texas Chainkiller Leatherface guy lives.  I screamed a little and ran out.
There was a mask like something from Planet of the Apes on a pike in the middle of the floor.
And you guys, seeing the way the rest of the house was, I'm convinced whoever lived (lives?) there worships it.
There were so many separate crawl spaces that just gave off the odor of wrongness, and I thought of that guy that hid bodies under his floorboards in the crawl spaces...
This house was PRIME for that sort of stuff.

They added random rooms here and there, so you'd step up a foot and be in another part of the house, and turn a corner and there is nothing there, but you open a closet and you can walk inside of it randomly.  Then you step down and you are in yet another part of this dark pit of a place.
Not to mention the entire loft they built in back, on top of the house, that had a swamp cooler balancing on a board 10 feet in the air attached to it.  Charming. Real safe.
And you took these death trap of metal stairs all the way to the top.
I'm pretty sure something was living in the bathtub up there--I didn't open the shaking shower curtain to find out.  We booked it out of there fast.

And contributing further to the weirdness--there was a fort-type thing built high up in the backyard, about 15 feet in the air.  But there was no way to get to it--no ladder or anything! I am convinced the psychos used that for their rituals as well.

This house was a disappointment.
We loved the outside, the square footage and yard sounded good, but after seeing the place, we were more relieved to drive the hell away, and getting away with our lives drowned any disappointment we might have felt...

But the other houses we saw were disappointing to help account.
Though we did thoroughly enjoy traipsing through them!!

The hubby and I are both history nerds. We love old places, stories, objects, memories, all that good stuff!
I volunteered for the Sandy Museum during college for a bit and helped catalogue some of the historic buildings in the area, so imagine our delight when we saw 2 of these houses for sale!
Although they were turn of the century, and therefore demanding of upkeep, and small, we wanted to check them out.

This first one had turquoise trim that killed me it was so precious!

But these old homes have lots of creepiness to them. The crawl spaces kill me they are so terrifying (as seen on left).
One of them had a boot inside of it that looked like it went down with the Titanic.

The old coal chutes are neat, but still kinda creepy.
And if they have been sealed up, I can't help but get all Edgar Allen Poe and daydream about the body sealed up inside.

Here is Eli in the "basement" of the first historic house we saw, built in 1898.
It is hard to tell, but that little sign over the doorway says "Haunted House."  Needless to say, we were a bit hesitant to open the door..

Some of my favorite books growing up (that I still read!!) are the Betsy-Tacy series, set in the early 1900s.
Seeing these houses really brought those characters and that era to life!
People were so TINY.
And the whole bathtub shower thing is interesting too...
This first house had 2 bathrooms (both airplane sized), and one of them had a shower that no one over 180 pounds could step into.

The wallpaper was ancient. And fabulous, the kind of stuff all the trendy boutiques are making dresses out of in similar print.

Yes, these houses are charming and have so much character,but they are also demanding because of their age.And the size makes it difficult. I could see myself as an old person living with my cute old husband here,but not at this stage in our life when we want a big boisterous dog and are planning on babies in the next few years.  Not to mention plenty of house parties.And these cottages don't have enough room for me to paint in!

By the way--this door on the left attacked me as we were trying to leave.
I don't know if the house was crying out in desperation for us to buy it, or trying to say I don't want you to live in me anyway GET OUUUUUT!!! all Amityville Horror style,
But the little handle to open the screen door hooked into my nail bed and I started bleeding all over the porch.
Kind of creepy.

This was my absolute favorite of all the houses we have looked at, and the story behind it is very romantic and endearing.

I'm pretty sure the couple that built the house and lived in it until their death may have died in the house... though I didn't get the same being-watched-by-netherspirits feeling that I did in the Hell House.

This little place had good karma.

I'm sure this photo of the sign is hard to read--
summary is they got married and then he went on a 2 and 1/2 year mission (this is very common in the Mormon church).
He gave her a blank checkbook to get by on while he was away, and she became a schoolteacher and supported herself for those years, and proudly handed him back all of the checks when he came home.
What an independent lady!

With the money they saved, they built this house, and he was a renowned architect in the Salt Lake Valley, so it is particularly valuable.
Plus their named were August and Mabel.  How adorable is that??!

This house was completely refurbished and had so many unique touches-- the original hardwood floors with hand-painted folk art flowers!
The original light fixtures with vintage chandeliers.
A fireplace and stained glass windows, a garden tub, a little fireplace in the bedroom too, and a basement with a not-too-creepy crawl space.

The best was the attic (at left)--look at that exposed chimney!!
We would want to turn that into a badass open space, but that involves a contractor determining if the structure is sound and all.
There are some amazing grants out there if you live in a historical home, which is one of the positives. But for us, there are just too many negatives in our first home being a turn-of-the-century home.
I'm glad we checked them out though, we have been dying to get into them after driving past them several times and hearing the stories behind them! And only after experiencing them firsthand were we able to come to the realization we don't want a house built any earlier than the 1960s.
There sure is a learning curve in home buying!

Isn't it neat how you can see the imprint of the ivy on the brick?

It is the little things that fascinate me, and how something that is now long gone can leave such a lasting mark.
Such his history...

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