Saturday, October 3, 2009

October Special: Part 1

I love October. It brings with it a change of weather and color as the year begins to die, it breathes in dead leaves and cool breezes, and as it ends, the boundary between Earth and Elsewhere weakens, ushering in a time of skeletons, jack-0-lanterns and grim reapers. And I guess beer bottle and sexy nurse costumes, but I try to ignore that.

But in honor of this month of horror, we're going to do some Deep-Time Fishing. It's like Deep-Sea Fishing, in that sometimes you dredge up a creature which looks more at home in a Lovecraftian myth than on planet earth. Every now and then, I encounter these creatures.

Here's one for this week.

Highways in Maine are much less dreary than anywhere else in the nation (because many of them have yet to be transformed into freeways or interstates). While we were driving towards Bar Harbor, Jenna and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: "Wow, nice flea market. Should we--WHOA!"

Jenna: "What? What?"

Me: "Did you see that house!?"

Jenna: "No, I didn't!" She turned to see it. "Wooooww!"

This is what I had seen on the side of the road:

There may exist, somewhere, a more grotesque house than this one, but I don't know if I want to find it. Just the quickest glance of this house gave me a little sour nudge in the pit of my stomach. We didn't stop for pictures that same day, but we did on the way back.

The architectural style seems to be something like a Queen Anne or a Victorian Revival, but those values have been usurped completely by putrefactive horror. The forces of time and rot are dragging the house's structure quickly towards the earth. A man in the flea market across the street offered us no hints about the house's identity except to warn us that it's very near its catastrophic end. The "DO NOT ENTER" road sign mounted on the right seems out of place, and adds to its eerie quality.

Take a closer look at the sinking outbuilding:

The parabolic shape of this building's roof line reminds me of something out of Tim Burton's nightmares. If we didn't believe the house had become the residence of demon spawn, perhaps we would have ventured inside. But, like Lovecraft's doomed explorer of The Picture in the House, I think what we might have found in that building would be worth a special degree of madness.

Something about the unnatural bending and undulations of the woodwork literally sent shivers through my spine. If I had seen this house in the dead of midnight, I don't think I would be writing this blog post.

Here is a parting glance of this, the House on a Highway in Maine.

See you here again in a few days. In the meantime, you may wish to enjoy Cinemassacre's all-month-long Monster Madness, or indulge in X-E's Halloween Countdown. Until then, ciao!



Joanna said...

Excellent. Yes, I think it's the weird bending that does it. It makes the house seem more like some spectral fungus.

(I read this regularly even though I don't often come and comment.)

There are lots of great buildings around here, and I wish I knew something about architectural history. I'm not sure how much is actually old and how much is redone to look like the old stuff, either. Maybe I'll send you pictures sometime so you can tell me what the styles are -- except my photographic abilities are embarrassingly bad. There's even an old gas station called Jonesy's, though, so I may have to venture it for that.

Rook said...

Joanna - I'd love to have a picture of Jonesy's.

You can usually tell what buildings are older by materials used. Newer buildings tend to incorporate things like vinyl siding (uugh), Styrofoam panel ceilings, etc. In other words, really cheap and practical materials with all of the visual flair of a dumpster.

Sometimes old buildings do get redone with newer materials (like, for example, you can find holes in Center on the Square's foam ceiling tiles and see beautiful pressed tin above them). But you can tell usually because there are a few details here and there that betray age, like mottled bricks, old windows, chipped paint, etc.

Most towns work a bit like the rings of an old tree: the oldest is in the middle with everything else radiating outwards. A lot of things can change the layout of towns though, like major highways--the old center of Wynne isn't really much of a center anymore (that'll be a post someday).

Anyway, stuff to consider when digging through your town.

Joanna said...

Ok, I'll try to get you one sometime soon, and maybe a few other pictures while I'm at it.

There's a lot of brick around here, often brick painted over (which I don't remember seeing much in the South). Sadly, you can see a lot of bricked-over ex-windows. Happily, there are also ghost signs. Many of the buildings around here have interesting woodwork or tilework at the eaves and wonderfully odd windows.

Yes, I think the tree rings thing applies here in Lafayette -- I live downtown, fairly close to the river where the city presumably started. The house my apartment is in is legitimately old, but it has new vinyl siding.