It's that time of year - Halloween is just around the corner. I usually go gaga for Gothic right about now.
Like today, when I watched the 1940's movie version of 'Jane Eyre,' complete with mist, wind, and storms that swirl around the eerie, dark, gothic mansion of Edward Rochester, the hero.
The picture you see here is of Deepwells Farm, a very old home, circa 1845. This grand old house is fashioned in the style of 'Greek Revival.' At one time, it was the home of one of the mayors of New York City, William Gaynor. He suffered an assassination attempt on his life back in the early days of the twentieth century, having been shot at point-blank range. The bullet remained in his body for quite some time, and ultimately caused his death.
I came to know the Deepwells Farmhouse well. I reside on Long Island, where the old home is located. One summer, I worked on the weekends as a Showhouse Manager for Deepwells Farm. Deepwells was a designer showhouse that summer, and each room had been transformed into a work of art, according to each designer's taste and whim. The event company that employed me needed someone on sight to oversee the purchases visitors made of the many valuable antiques for sale inside and outside the home.
Prior to Deepwells even looking as wonderful as it did then and now, there was a lot of work involved to make it structurally sound and presentable - even before the designers got their hands on their individual rooms. There was a crew of workers in when I first laid eyes on the grand old home, which, I recently discovered, in it's heyday, was the scene of countless society parties which many old-time movie celebrities attended. So, this group of construction experts had their work cut out for them to make sure the marvelous old, staircase was transformed into a safe one.
I remember climbing the remodeled staircase. I wasn't alone, I was with two other people. It was my job to tour the old house and get a 'feel' for it, and I can say, I most certainly did!
When we reached one of the upper floors, it was filled with small rooms - old servants' quarters. The more rooms I visited on this floor, the more I experienced an odd sensation. Uncombortable is how I can describe the initial feeling. It was as though I invaded someone's privacay. No other floor in Deepwells gave me this creeped-out feeling, except for the floor with the servants' quarters.
As we toured each small room, that strange, eerie feeling increased. I walked out into the long hallway by myself, while my other two companions were looking at one of the rooms. The hair on the back of my neck rose, and then I saw it: A lone rocking chair sat at the far end of the hallway. No other furniture was near it. There was no one in the hallway but me...
The damned rocking chair started rocking - by itself!
Not just a little movement, but full-fledged back and forth rocking. There was no wind to cause that, no one else was in that hallway but me.
I quickly exited that floor, and flew down the stairs.
I never returned to the third floor by myself, even when the house was filled with people on the weekends.
Was it the ghost of William Gaynor? One of his servants?
I never knew or found out, but I could feel something in that house. And maybe, the house left a piece of itself in me, like that bullet left in Mr. Gaynor's body.
Perhaps I just enjoy the spooky, eerie, dark feel of many of the old homes on Long Island.
Or maybe, I'm just gaga for gothic.
Happy Halloween, everyone!