The Lonely House – Historical Notes

It has been a beast getting back into consistently writing after I did NaNoWriMo and even now I’m struggling to get back where I was. Doing this bi-monthly is extremely helpful, but I still have to be writing weekly to get where I need to be. So, this chapter was a little shorter, and probably a little less in-depth than I could’ve gotten, but I am ramping back up to more character driven chapters. It also means I haven’t been getting out the content I’ve wanted to, including Cryptid Corners and a new little examination of monsters. If you’re interested in the other projects that have been occupying my time, I have started posting Laemmle High, a 1950s monster mash that deals in themes of otherness, relationships, and fear of the future. I’ve also got a few more side projects I am working on in my own time, but I’m hoping to get back into it here. A few major chapters are coming up, and I’m very excited and also very scared to get to them.

But the Summerwind House. I first heard about it watching the Discovery Channel’s A Haunting (Season 1, episode 2, if you’re curious). It’s a fairly generic haunted house story told in a fairly generic reenactment fashion, but what struck me the most about the episode was that those who’d purchased and lived in the house consistently referred to it as looking so lonely. It was repeated a number of times through the episode, by separate people if I recall correctly, and that resonance struck me as far more creepy than anything in the episode.

Summerwind was originally known as the Lamont Mansion, purchased by Robert Patterson Lamont. There are a couple of notable incidents in the house, but the primary one is that Lamont one night found himself confronted by a ghost. He fired a pistol at it, and then he and his family fled, abandoning the home. Other owners of the house are listed as Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw, who were haunted to the point of nervous breakdown, and Raymond Bober, Ginger’s father, who authored a book about the hauntings in the house. This has been called into question, since neighbors claim he never spent a night in the house at all. It seems, as with the Amityville house, neighbors and later tenants never experienced any hauntings, and were annoyed at the supernatural tourist attraction it became.

There are two primary reasons I ended this story with a lightning strike. Summerwind did burn down. By 1985, it’d been completely abandoned, with neighbors hoping to have it demolished, and teens using it as a place to hang out and vandalize. While the attempt to have it torn down failed, in 1988, lightning struck the house, burning it to the ground. Arson was not suspected, though a suggestion was made that local teens might’ve left a fire burning. Attempts have been made to rebuild, but Summerwind is gone for good.

The second reason is I’d recently read The Picture in the House, a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve never read a short story by Lovecraft that wasn’t aggressively racist, this one included, and I found this particular short story disappointing for various reasons (Lovecraft is described to me so often as much more interesting than it actually ends up being), but there’s something charming in Lovecraft’s pulp endings. Like Reanimator, this has a very classic ending derived from previous fiction, in this case Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. The thought of being in a cursed place, or being in a tense situation surrounded by fear and anxiety, to escape at last, and to turn around one last time to see that place crack and crumble into ruin, there’s a startling image there. It’s probably why Lovecraft survives, despite all his faults. Next to the interweaving of the mythos, there are striking images, ideas so pure and strong, it’s hard to discount them entirely. So I left it with the image of a cursed place burning to the ground thanks to a lightning bolt. I decided to use it.

This story was sort of a reprieve for me while I got my life back together. Next time there will be much more story and a lot more history, and I’m hoping to post some things in the interim. I am posting monthly as of right now to Black Cat Fiction, my writing blog, as well as bi-weekly to my Fear Street recap blog, and I hope to have a few more short stories up soon. Summer is looming ever closer, though, which is my busy season, so hopefully I can maintain my momentum.

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