Friday, September 26, 2014

The House of the Porcelain Incident

More often than not, we find these locations through binges of thrill-seeking and horror-related researches, whether it be through personal accounts or folklore and fiction, but as is often the case, reality is sometimes more terrifyingly impressive than the fiction that has accumulated with time. Normalcy can trump the macabre with the right elements, in terms of creating discomfort and getting under your skin.

Where is the rural horror in taking a wrong turn on a winding country road and ending at a “bridge out” sign about a mile through its concourse? Before having enough time to adequately turn around in the gravel lot to the side, you realize that you are merely in the front lawn of an old residential property. A child’s Tinkerbell suitcase sits discarded with a pile of clothes in the bushes. Your traveling companion gets out of the car to inspect it and a handful of snakes scatter into the woods. Peering up the lawn, past a few trees, you see silhouetted against the forest a sizable red-painted house. You slowly take the gravel path up towards the property and find a few windows shattered, the garage doors opened, and the front door unlocked. This is the House of the Porcelain Incident.

However dangerous or dilapidated most abandoned structures are, you can typically assess exactly why they stand as they are (water damage, asbestos, etc.) – what is particularly haunting about something in the realm of the Porcelain House is exactly how… beautiful it all still was. Of course there were signs of previous (and less graceful or respectful) visitors and signs of brief professional dismantling, but overall, the house stood in decent shape. [Later research would reveal that the property technically belongs to an authority and I believe that is why the kitchen seemed primed for deconstruction, perhaps for scrap or resale.] The foyer upon your entrance does seem rather foreboding, with a dark stairwell leading below, complete with castle-esque stone tiling. The living room on the left opens up greatly and there are massive windows on the three walls leading deeper into the home.

Although the house itself stood in decent condition, it was the details beyond the picturesque foyer and living room that made this pleasant find anything but.

As soon as you move through the kitchen, which bore a preparation island that must have been beautiful in its day, the house becomes rather cluttered in its arteries and hallways (which would become even more-so the case in the basement) – a lot of the paneling and drywall is blown out of the pantry area and reveals a multilayered peek throughout the house and one of the exits outside. Moving into the hallway which branches into the handful of bedrooms, it is apparent the family was varied demographically, with the contrasts of colors and flooring in any of the rooms. The first room, although I am sure charming during its use for a young child, sat hauntingly in a pale purple hue, with a damp gray carpet, attached immediately to the foyer. The next was very plain with wood flooring (and honestly reminded me of my old room at the #shamhouse) and I nearly jumped out of my skin when a chorus of bees erupted from within the closet. I couldn’t see the little creatures, but the intensity of their racket told me better than to peek in.

Finally, what appeared to be the master bedroom was the one which gave us the namesake of the house – strewn across the floor, and violently broken against the old fashioned windows, was a toilet. The trajectory of its pieces informed us that it was (again, very violently) thrown against the walls and windows. Probably just vandals, but the randomness of seeing a toilet that broke a window did not sit well, as visitors of a place that was previously a private residence. More fallen pieces of its porcelain brethren were later found in the living room. Some work was obviously the results of post-purchase gutting, but how unprofessionally unkempt and forgotten the worksite sat left the property in a state between vacancy and decay.

When you follow the stone-tiled staircase into the lower level, the air of suburbia falls out from under you. I would completely agree with the assertion that the basement level of the house transitions from a normal residential home to a warehouse sub-section. The rooms remain completely undone and white-painted industrial bricks and office-suite paneling constituted most of the d├ęcor. Again, perhaps it was a result of the breaking down after the abandonment, but wires and metal pour from the ceiling and random holes as if a madman went on an enraged binge through the floor with a sledgehammer. There are multiple rooms that seemed as if they were ready to be made into a child’s playroom… and then that’s it. The idea was scrapped. Time moved on. A size six sneaker sits in the corner. You open another door and it’s a small, 5x5 room with no windows or amenities. You open another, and it’s a bathroom with a misplaced exit to the outside. You turn one corner, and it’s a vast, rectangular room with garbage everywhere.

Whether it was a mutual sale and the previous family left on happy terms, or some sort of public purchase was made necessary from the township, the House held a very somber atmosphere. I do not know if it was my own imagination and the spontaneous fictions that it created that made me feel this way, but having visited both in the broad daylight and during witching hour, I know that the feeling in my gut was not positive walking through these halls. Adding insult to injury and the subtle terror of the place, a sprawling pile of children’s textbooks and novellas sat in the foyer. There is a family name that is consistent in the front cover scrawlings and I will not list them here, for obvious reasons, but, as if haunted by an old family member that wished that best for you before passing, I feel for you, strangers, wherever you are. The post-research conducted gives me some insight and hope for a relatively happy transition to wherever you are, but the nature of the house, the ambiance it brewed, and the state of how things were left, I cannot say it felt like a pleasant flight from the household.