Haunted House….

PICT0326

1870's house....now abandoned...foreclosed.

I have watched this old house since the early ’70’s.  It’s in Adair Park, close to our neighborhood, in fact only one neighborhood over.  The vast majority of houses were built by a builder (Adair) in the early 20’s, though there are a good deal of houses from around WWI.

But this one stands out because it looks like nothing else around it. It’s a definite Southern design, or what probably would be called “Southern Farmhouse” for that is what it was long ago.

The Civil War ended in 1865 and the destruction of the area was just about total.  The Terminus, the intersections of all the railroads that fed into Marthasville in 1826, which would become Atlanta by 1840’s, was destroyed by the Union Army. Blown to Hell.  Then Sherman swept south to the sea, playing with matches as he and the troops marched.

What was left were a lot of citizens who were mostly elderly, children and women.  None of these were the slave owners, the plantation owners, who were generally miles away in large tracts of land. These were the small farms that had a few mules if lucky and a few acres to plant food stuffs.  Cabbage, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, beans, these were the crops of the local people.

Come to think of it, IF they had a mule they were lucky because most horses and mules were requisitioned by the Confederate Army or then taken by the Union Army.  Or eaten after the war when the full flush of starvation swept down upon those left in Georgia.  It was not unusual, as seen in photos of the time, to see women hitched up to the plow, or young boys, and that was what they had to do to prepare a field for planting.  Seeds and plants were hard to come by and the lives of these Southerners were hard.

I haven’t been able to track down the name of the original owners, but it was a lovely house when built.  A barrel ceiling on the front porch is an unusual piece of design, and I’ve rarely seen it here in the South.  The slope of the roof line is also intriguing, because of the pitch.  I think it was built with more of an attic than a second story, but I did this weekend have a chance to go through it.

It’s owned by a small bank, was foreclosed upon and the agent had never seen it.  It was just a distressed property and there are a lot of them around because of the economy.

My husband and I were told that the door (which looks like an early possible ‘original’ …broad and solid wood) was open, the lock box not locked and we could go in ourselves and look around. This was by the agent who was absolutely no help at all.  We ended up climbing through the back where the windows had been torn from their casings.  They must have been huge windows, because all the windows are gone.

The house is broken up into a boarding house of about 14 rooms. Small warrens for desperate or down on their luck boarders.  This was many years ago, but the original lines of the house can be seen.

The wide front hall runs (or did) straight to the back porch, which is called “Southern Air Conditioning” before air conditioning was invented….or electricity for fans.  Off to the left is the main parlor, with a very large mantel that is probably too heavy for someone to steal and rust colored ceramic tiles inside what probably was a coal burning fireplace.  There are two large chimney stacks across the apex of the roof, and that is also of Southern design of the 1870’s.  The ceilings are 10′ or more and the floors are heart pine.  A stairway runs up the left side of the hall to a confusing jumble of rooms and closets, baths that look like they were put in around the 1940’s.   I bet there wasn’t originally a staircase at all.  I have seen it before in houses (abandoned) in the NC and Ga. mountains, where a solid ladder was nailed to the wall and this was the access to the lofts above.   We couldn’t find evidence of an original kitchen, but that would be a ‘detached’ kitchen….a small wood house with a large wood stove outside away from the house proper.  There is a small foundation in the back yard, but nothing else.

The block is a long one, running off from a main thoroughfare, and this house sits towards the middle/end.  Before these lovely Arts and Crafts, and before them, Queen Anne bungalows and houses were built, with their many gabled roofs, this house would have been the main farmhouse of the area with acres of cleared fields around it.

The house, surprisingly enough, has a solid foundation.  It’s built, as was the custom, on brick pillars and they look sound still.  Air comes under the house and at one point the pillars were enclosed with blocks and iron vents.  Through the generations, the house was clapboard, then covered with some sort of asbestos sheeting and then aluminum siding.  That last is torn off completely to the rafters, and the original siding is revealed.  It’s not in bad condition where the siding is still there, and could be restored.  The chimneys look sound, but one can’t know without a closer inspection.

My heart went out to this house, and as my husband is an indulgent man,  asked if I wanted to buy it.  I did, but what then would I do with it?  I would want to live in it, but as he said, we could buy it for a song and then it would take  an opera to restore.  We haven’t yet finished our own house and this would really complicate our life.

Our son is going off to the Navy in mid December and there goes my ‘hump’ labor.  The only thing to do is put up a high construction fence and gut the thing completely.  It probably only had about 6 original rooms.

Funny thing.  Many of the original settlers were Irish here about, and in part it reminds me of an Irish farmhouse…just a little, but I was thinking of the rooms and how they were used back in the 1870’s.  There would have been barns or sheds on the property for the livestock, but many times, like with the Irish Georgian farmhouses, rooms would have held grains, saddles, harnesses, and odds and ends.

(This is not different from our own house, the Ragsdale house, built in the 1880’s.  It was built as a real Georgian farmhouse, back on the property then, and not moved up to the street until the 1920’s.  That was for the sewer tie in…a new luxury.  The Ragsdales came from Lancaster, England in 1860 and owned “West End Horse and Mule”.  I found bits of what looked like rotted harness and metal pieces for harness hanging up in the basement when I bought the house in 1978.  It had a strange front porch across it’s front, and when we took it off (after a long trip to the UK) we found that it never should have been there.  It didn’t fit, and the house almost groaned in relief when we did.  We had an old Georgian house, a farm house on our hands, and I am sure that the original Ragsdales knew the farmers who owned the farmhouse in what became Adair Park.)

This was necessary after the Civil War, as emancipated slaves, the homeless, the destitute and just plain mean people, desperate to survive, would steal anything they could sell in Atlanta 3 miles away.  Survival was precarious in the best of times, and after a 5 year war that involved everyone, survival was hard going.

This neighborhood was a good one until about 1960.  Then changing demographics and the beginning squeeze for housing near the city began.  That’s probably when the house became a boarding house.

It’s abandoned now, though there was a “Stop Work Order” posted to the old front coffin door.  We could see how someone did a lot of work on the ceilings, running duct work and making tray ceilings to hide the ducts.  Not something that should be done to his historic house.  If I had it,…I would do it from beneath and …..

Well, this house deserves to be restored, but damn, it would take a lot of money.  Everything, except for the one fireplace and mantel…would have to go.  I would gut the entire house and take out the staircase and see what we had.  But it would be a long process without a crew, and though I could get one together, a real wrecking crew…well, again….it’s more nostalgic than practical…and life calls us to open our eyes  somedays.

This poor house will probably burn to the ground some day, as fire seems to take out a lot of these old structures.  But since it’s Halloween soon, I will go put a Halloween decoration on the front door and a pumpkin on the steps.  It does look haunted but that is more the effects of age and neglect.

Lady Nyo

 

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8 Responses to “Haunted House….”

  1. Margie Says:

    What a fabulous house. If I were a woman of means (and I’m NOT, darn it) I would want to do just what you were writing about. Gut and restore. How charming that you will decorate for Halloween – the house deserves it!

    Like

  2. Berowne Says:

    I’m a little surprised the real estate company allows anyone inside. Unless the interior is in better shape than the photo shows the outside to be, it could be a hazard. One fall on a loose board or some collapsing structural member and the owner could be in for trouble.

    Like

  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Margie!!

    Yes, it is a fabulous house, much different than we generally see.

    Yes, gut and restore, because it desperately needs it.

    I’m glad you saw the ‘beauty’ in this house…I have other pix, that shows it from different ‘advantages’….lol! I’ll send to you privately.

    Hugs,
    Jane….the house now has a witch crashing into the front door…taped to it.

    LOL!…and the pumpkin?? Well, pumpkins are expensive this year so I will leave mine at home.

    Like

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Berowne,

    You could never be accused of being a romantic. That house is just empty and dirty inside….there is some falling drywall in the ceilings…but what’s a bump on the head compared to seeing the inners of a house you have observed for almost 4 decades??

    The real estate agent is a moron. Period.

    And I know the risks traipsing through an abandoned house. I am very glad I did because the mystery inside was haunting me.

    Now, I know.

    Like

  5. Berowne Says:

    > I have other pix, that shows it from different ‘advantages’

    I’d like to see them too; perhaps the one above depicts the place at its worst?

    > You could never be accused of being a romantic.

    Ahem. I shall not respond to that here, o hanky-less one…

    But from the perspective of a realtor or banker, who are often quite unromantic in their professional capacities, failing to ensure the safety of visitors can be costly.

    Like

  6. ladynyo Says:

    LOL!..I knew I was opening myself with that one….

    I’ll send you the pix….and perhaps they don’t show anything better, just it’s an interesting house. With history.

    Signed,
    The Hanky-less harpy

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  7. Margie Says:

    I’d love to see the additional pictures. And you’re right about pumpkins this year. I just paid 3.99 for a medium to large size pumpkin. Usually I have a group of them in my Halloween display – this year it’s just the one. As a side note, however, Roger was clearing out the watermelon vines today and buried in the tangled mess were TWO huge watermelons! I brought one to the kids, but he offered to paint the other one orange (I declined).

    Like

  8. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! on the watermelons. Everything is expensive this year…I am shocked at the prices on produce where they seem to have doubled over the past months. At least where I am.

    Wow about the watermelons. That is a find! My garden is so small I would have tripped over them. Tell Roger he can come down here and paint something orange for me. Those pumpkins…why so expensive??

    And….a dear friend in Aussieland…Nick….turned me on to roast pumpkin with butter and salt and pepper and cinnamon. I never ate pumpkin that way and it’s truly a many recipe vegetable. Try that next time with beef or chicken as a starch….

    Hugs, cuz. I’ll send the photos as soon as I find (again) where they are on the computer. I am having trouble with that for some reason…..

    Like

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