Shall we continue our tour of the famous Searsport house? Okay, then, without further ado ——
Inside, there were doors we couldn't open and rooms we couldn't enter:
There were ceilings open to the sky:
Yet the house had a pleasant personality, or "feeling." As we walked around, it felt welcoming in spite of all of its issues. Some nicely maintained houses have given me the creeps when I've been inside for an open house, or to visit a friend. (Maybe you know what I mean; some people attribute this to ghosts. I'm not convinced. For one thing, ghosts come and go; they aren't stuck in one place like wallpaper. And they don't automatically make a place feel creepy. I think it's more a question of the house's overall history that creates an enduring mood. Or else it's ugly paint, bad lighting, and grimy wall-to-wall. . . .)
Back to the tour. I can report that this house felt just fine, messy and ruined as it was. It's a nice house, even so.
A close-up of a baby's toy. The house's owner, Mr. Brown, thinks people may have left a few tokens in the house over the years.
Ceilings and walls were crumbling, and there were many chairs. But not many you could sit upon:
This room is like a clubhouse for unloved seating furniture.
I think that room was upstairs. Now let's go back downstairs.
Here's a view of some warped bay windows from inside. Mr. Brown said the bays were a later addition to the house and may never have been structurally sound — another reason why the house is in such fearful structural shape, along with the failure of the roof and overall neglect.
Some windows still have curtains:
Some walls still have pretty, old-fashioned paper:
I think my husband and I were slightly in shock the whole time we were on the property. In 20 years of driving past this house, we dreamed and imagined seeing the inside. But we never believed for two seconds that it would ever happen.
And there we were.
It was like magic.
Mr. Brown helped me climb down the ladder as went outside.
He still has a lot of work to do. I'm hoping it takes him several years. We'd love to say hello him next summer on our next drive through Searsport to Southwest Harbor. (But then I'd also like to go up again this winter, to see the island with snow.)
I'd say there's a decent chance Mr. Brown will still be at work in June . . .
And in the meantime, we wish him well. He is a gentleman, a good storyteller, and an unusually cultured demolition expert. I wonder if he let the house decay for as long as he did because he, too, recognized it as the most poetic, dramatic spectacle along Maine's Route 1. It's a picturesque road to begin with, and his house was the crown jewel of its many memorable sights.
During his ownership, the house slowly became — and may it remain if only for some months, a year, maybe a little longer — a work of art.
Now that its interior is no longer a mystery to me, I think I will not mourn it so deeply when it's gone. Instead I will remember the magical time we spent there, the way the late-afternoon light filled the rooms, the beautiful staircase, Mr. Brown's interesting stories, and the gentle, good feeling that lingered inside its rooms in spite of decades of neglect.
All that was real, and sometimes reality is better than fantasy.
But, even now, I still can't quite believe it all happened.