The Old Place

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A personal story from the Houselore Facebook Group:

Since about 2017, I’ve been working on refurbishing my old family homestead. My family calls it The Old Place, and it’s a few miles down the long dirt road where I live with my parents and grandma. It was built by my great grandfather in the 1930s using materials from an older house built by HIS father on the same property. I will be the 5th generation to live on this property that is in what people from the middle of nowhere call the middle of nowhere.

All 80 acres used to be manually-terraced, rolling pastureland. It’s grown back to forest now and creeps up pretty menacingly on the house. There also used to be a highway and a common carriage stopping point on the property, likely frequented by carpet-baggers who managed to avoid the West-Kimbrell Clan just a few miles away. Go google them if you don’t feel like sleeping.

This isolation has allowed a lot of trespassing and vandalism. The worst was when someone stole some family silver along with all of the metal parts off of my father’s maternal and paternal grandmothers’ stoves. After a lot of looking, we found a company in Texas to find and refurbish the almost indestructible Chambers and Premiere stoves.

So NOW I get to the spooky bits (sorry, I am just very proud of this place’s heritage). The two super nice guys from the repair company got the stoves out of the house this Tuesday and loaded around 10 at night after a hard rain. One of them turns to me as I’m locking up the new security doors (bye, wannabe trespassers) and asks, “Did there used to be a dog here?”

Keep in mind, we have taken down every family photo in the house for safekeeping and moved it to our house down the road. I thought he just saw some scratch marks at the bottom of the door, and I was NOT excited for another sanding and staining project.

My dad, who was lucky enough to know my great grandpa (Papa Mac), said yes. The man gestures with his hands and says, “About yea big? White and kind of brown?” Full-body goosebumps. We just nod. He says, “I’ve seen it about 3 times since we got here.” I had noticed him spacing out and looking across the room a few times, but he’d had a LONG drive and it was late so eh.

Turns out he was describing Trooper, Papa Mac’s little farm dog in the 50s or 60s. The only picture I have seen of Trooper is about 3in x 3in and is sitting next to my dad’s bed in our house. The repair men NEVER came in our house, just The Old Place. Trooper and Papa Mac are pictured below.

The guy assured me that he didn’t feel anything bad there. In fact, the house felt like home to him and his coworker. They said they kept expecting someone to come up with an apple pie.

He also said that his company has switched locations several times, and every time he is the only one who can stand to stay in the workshop at night. People get attached to these vintage stoves. Think about the scarcity of food and the love that went into cooking it before everything was commercialized. For some people, cooking is their love language. It would make sense that some part of them would go with their stoves.

I’m not scared to move in there. In fact, knowing that I have several generations of family and their pets makes me feel better about living alone. Does anyone have any experiences like this? And does anyone know how to help the spirits feel at home while I am stripping The Old Place to its bones and putting it back together? I’m not changing much, just modern plumbing and electrical and some A/C.

Thanks!

Alexandra Jones
Alexandra Jones
Alexandra is an American historian and the founder of Houselore. She is based in Scotland, where she lives in a creaky castle and tends a poison garden.

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