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Visit the Homes of 10 Famous Horror Writers

Edgar Allan Poe

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

Most commonly associated with Baltimore, Maryland, Edgar Allan Poe also had a residence in Bronx, New York, that was not only were he wrote some of his most famous works – like The Bells and Annabel Lee – but was also the site of one of his greatest personal tragedies. The small, five-room cottage was built in 1812, and Poe and his wife, Virginia, moved there in 1844. She was suffering from tuberculosis, and they moved there in the hopes that the quiet country air would help her in her recovery. Sadly, it was not to happen, and she died in the house in 1847. Poe continued to live there with his mother-in-law, although he died two years later on a trip back to Baltimore. His mother-in-law soon sold the house; in 1913, it came up for demolition but was rescued by the New York Shakespeare Society. Now, it sits in a public park near its original site.

The Baltimore house that’s also a must-see for fans of the perhaps most well-known and prolific horror writer of all is the one that still sits at 203 Amity Street. Once 3 Amity Street while Poe lived there, the house now stands largely empty but is open to visitors. Poe was 23-years-old when he moved into the house with his grandmother, aunt and several cousins, and while dating some of his works can be difficult, it’s thought that it was in this house that he wrote works like MS. Found in a Bottle and poems like The Coliseum. Rows and rows of houses have sprung up in the neighborhood around the house, but for those with an imagination, it’s almost still possible to look from the windows and see the the fields that once stood empty there and inspired a pretty dark imagination.

Ambrose Bierce

“Ah, children of the sunlight and the gaslight, how little you know of the world in which you live!”

Ambrose Bierce, the American writer who lived at the turn of the 20th century, is best known for his incredibly cynical The Devil’s Dictionary and his vivid, darkly supernatural tales like An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – as well as his mysterious death and disappearance. Born in Ohio, even his exact birthplace is something of a mystery – there’s a marker at the Meigs County site that’s thought to be his birthplace, but now, it’s location is less “exact” and more “close enough”.

He spent much of his adult life in Napa Valley, California, where he settled after his service in the Civil War. The climate was favorable to the chronic asthma he’d suffered for much of his life, and his home – located in St. Helena – has now been transformed into a B&B.

While the website calls it the Ambrose Bierce House, there’s little to no mention of his actual residence there – or the ghost stories that have been passed down from owner to owner.

Those stories are just as vague as the house is about Bierce’s life there – they include the presence of a grey mist that’s rumored to pass through some of the rooms, which are named not only for Bierce, but for other upstanding citizens who once called the Napa Valley home. The wineries, vineyards and fine dining restaurants seem a sharp contrast to the dark works that Bierce is best known for, but we like to think that he would appreciate the irony.

Oscar Wilde

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” ~ The Picture of Dorian Gray

If there’s any fear we all have in common, it’s aging, growing up and growing old. It’s that shared fear that makes Oscar Wilde’s infamous work The Picture of Dorian Gray so incredibly eerie, and recently, the ground-floor of the house (now a multifamily home) in which Wilde lived when he wrote the work went on the market.

In 2012, the Chelsea home in which Wilde lived through much of his writing career went on the market with a staggering $1.8 million price tag. Adorned with one of London’s famous blue plaque’s that acts as a testament to its authenticity as a landmark site, it – disappointingly – looks little like the place Wilde would have been familiar with. The interior of the home was gutted and re-done by an interior designer, meaning that it’s now more Chelsea chic than what Wilde, his wife and two children would have known.

Even though his London home might not be the thing that fans are expecting – or wanting – to see, his childhood home in Ireland is quite a different matter. Number 1 Merrion Square had recently passed into the control of the American College Dublin. The college got the property in 1994, and a 1998 donation jump-started the renovation and restoration project on the home that’s now been used to create an exhibition space more in line with what you’d expect. Original walls and floors have all been restored, the furniture is mostly period pieces, and even the colors were selected to be the same as what would have been on the walls when Wilde lived there.

The history of the home has all the elements of surreal fiction you’d expect to be the stuff of the formative years of one of Ireland’s most notorious writers. His father was a brilliant surgeon and renowned lecher, (with no less than three illegitimate children) and his mother was the author of some of the most outspoken and subversive literature of the day. The house was also home to the Wilde family through a number of tragedies – two of William Wilde’s (illegitimate) daughters died after their dresses caught on fire, and an (unproven) accusation of rape from one of his patients left his career in ruins, his health rapidly failing, and his family in debt after his death.

Sold by the Wilde family out of necessity, the house is currently a reflection of happier times and the continued education of the next generation of literary giants.

Bram Stoker

“I sometimes thing we must all be mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait-waistcoats.”
Love or hate the modern day vampires, pretty much all credit for bringing the vampire from mythology and folklore to literature goes to one man – Dublin-born Bram Stoker. And it might even be said that Dracula was born – or, at least, the seeds of Dracula were planted – at the house that Stoker was born. A rather unassuming, 4-bedroom townhouse, 15 The Crescent, (also 15 Marino Crescent) Clontarf, was recently up for sale – for a whopping €675,000. Pictures show that it’s changed relatively little since Stoker lived there with his mother, in a sad, illness-ridden childhood that formed the basis of the talent of the literary giant.

Perhaps fitting to his work, there’s a lot of Stoker’s life that’s appropriately shrouded in mystery. It’s not known how he truly died, although rumours include a stroke or from complications from syphilis. It’s not known for sure whether or not he participated in seances and occult readings, and it’s also not known what illness it was that kept him bed-ridden for the first seven years of his life.

When most children were otherwise occupied, Stoker had little to entertain him save his imagination and the stories that permeated the Irish culture in which he was raised. His mother, Charlotte, kept him occupied with stories from Irish folklore, tales of ghosts and boggarts, of the supernatural, and of dark, sinister stories of the otherworldly. Undoubtedly, these stories, read to a young Stoker while he looked from the window of his third floor bedroom out to a city he couldn’t venture into, fueled his imagination for later works.
The house’s status as being listed as a cultural treasure means that those who buy it down the line will need to keep it in much the same condition that it’s in – unlike the gutted, uber-modern look that Oscar Wilde’s one-time residence has, the Stoker home will be kept in much the same period as it was built.

Interestingly, the house has also been decorated with a plethora of religious imagery from crosses to statues…. suggesting that someone wants to make sure his creation doesn’t come home with him.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Death should take me while I am in the mood.” ~ The Blithedale Romance
Hawthorne was a master of dark romanticism, with his works exploring the evil inherent in every human being and the sins we all commit. Heavily influenced by the Puritan times he was surrounded by, his works – especially The Scarlet Letter – have long been a staple of American Literature classes.

The house where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born was originally built in 1750 – about 50 years before his birth. His parents – neighbours from childhood – lived in the house that originally belonged to his paternal grandparents, and his mother would ultimately return there after the death of his father. The house originally stood on Union Street in Salem, but has since been moved to a new location on Derby Street in 1958. Now, the house is part of a larger site that also includes the House of Seven Gables.

The 1668 property was originally built by a sea captain, was sold, and passed on through the Ingersoll family until it came into the possession of Susanna, Hawthorne’s cousin. He visited the house often, and it was the inspiration for his 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. Both his birthplace and the House of Seven Gables belong to a trust responsible for the upkeep and preservation of the homes, along with several others that date to the same period.

Roald Dahl

“The witching hour, someone had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves.” ~ The BFG
Best known for his children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, Roald Dahl also had a darker side. He wrote for a sci-fi and horror television production called Way Out, and alongside his career as a children’s author was another one that saw his stories being published in magazines like Playboy, The New Yorker, and Harper’s – and they also earned him three Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America.

Not surprisingly, he had a special place he would go to write.

The Dahl family home is Gipsy House, located in Great Missenden, England. Now, the town is also home to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, where there’s an interactive, hands-on museum and gallery devoted to his works and geared toward his youngest audience. It’s also the location of Gipsy House, which has been occasionally open to the public but much more recently the subject of some pretty big controversy.

On the property is a small shed where Dahl would retreat to do his writing. It’s said that he went there every day for 30 years, and he was the only one that was allowed in his creative space. After his death in 1990, the house – and the shed – passed to his wife. When the family later launched a fundraising campaign to raise £500,000 to renovate, restore and move Dahl’s shed, the public backlash was almost tangible. The shed still contained a largely unchanged snapshot of his world, with his armchair and footstool, letters and photographs and – because writers are weird – a table with a piece of his own hip bone on it. It had fallen into disrepair since the author’s death, and the family’s appeal for the funds to save the shed was criticized as being greedy.

In perspective, Dahl’s estate was, at the time, boasting a yearly operating profit of approximately £300,000.

William Peter Blatty

“Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.” ~ The Exorcist

While William Peter Blatty now lives in Bethesda, Maryland, the place known as the house that The Exorcist built was sold in 2009 to the hip-hop artist Drake, for a staggering $27 million – give or take. Situated in a gated community called Hidden Hills in Los Angeles, California, the home has pretty much every luxury you could possibly want – including a mechanical bull in a sand pit.

The house, complete with horse stables and riding ring, gym, full-service spa (with tanning beds and massage room), wine cellar with tasting room, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and an outdoor chess set… it looks a bit like somewhere the devil himself might throw a party. There’s a massive, free-form swimming pool with grotto, waterfall and a bar you can swim up to.

There’s even 11 bathrooms – and one is outfitted with 10 urinals.
If that’s not your vision of the House The Exorcist Built, no fear. You can still visit the notorious staircase featured in the movie, most notably the scene of the headfirst plunge of Father Karras. The stairs, in Georgetown at 3600 M Street, NW, aren’t far from where Blatty once lived.

Stephen King

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
A name that truly is synonymous with horror, Stephen King’s house doesn’t disappoint. Its massive, wrought iron fence is adorned with bats and spiders, as you’d hope it would be. It’s so appropriate, even, that it’s one of the most photographed private residences in America… although the popularity of King – and his home – isn’t always necessarily a good thing.

In 2013, a trespasser was remitted to the Eastern Maine Medical Center for an evaluation before being prosecuted for criminal trespassing…. and that’s one of the more normal occurrences, too. In 1991, a man broke into the home claiming he had a bomb, sending King’s wife running to a neighbor to call the police. And in 1992, a man staked out the house, claiming he had irrefutable proof that it was King who had actually killed John Lennon.

The house was originally built sometime between 1858 and 1870, though records for the exact date are dodgy. Occupying just over an acre, the house that now stands was added onto piece by piece, well before the King family moved in in 1980. The multi-sided turret tower was added in 1895, and a porch was added in 1912. The current house is almost 5,000 square feet and has retained much of its European flair. (If you think it looks big and impressive from the front, check out the aerial view.)

As one might expect, Halloween was something of a production there…. once upon a time. Early in his career, the family would go to extremes for Halloween, and open the gates to visitors. That’s since stopped, when guests began approaching numbers in the several thousands. Now, they ask that people stay away on Halloween – and respect their privacy on every other day of the year.

Alfred Hitchcock

“Blondes make the best victims. They’re like the virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”

For much of his film-making career, home for Alfred Hitchcock was 10957 Bellagio Road, Bel Air, California. A rather pleasant home located next to a golf course, it was purchased for $40,000 in 1942.

On the other side of the country, though, sits the home where the master of suspense penned The Birds – and, in a weird twist of fate, its horror pedigree was only discovered by its owner when he went to sell it – after writing the script for the Francis Ford Coppola version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula there. The four bedroom colonial home went on sale for $1.4 million in 2013, along with the barn that was a writing studio not only for Dracula screenwriter Jim Hart, but also for Hitchcock.

Once the connection was made, the writer and current owner started making other connections – like telling stories of the flocks of birds that would roost in the property’s trees, and pointing out the stone carvings of birds that decorate the property. The barn/writing studio itself has a rather unique history. It was originally built in California’s Napa Valley, and it was moved to its current location piece by piece sometime during the Great Depression. And the house itself was once home to wealthy industrialist Hiram Halle of Gulf Oil, who went out of his way to employ Jewish immigrants fleeing the reign of the Third Reich.

H.P. Lovecraft

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

Lovecraft spent much of his life in Rhode Island, save for a couple of years in New York. He was born at 194 Angell Street in Providence, which would later be re-numbered to 494. The house had originally been purchased by his grandparents, who were first cousins – a relationship that would spark his suspicion and fears when it came to the development of inbreeding and genetic disorders.

His childhood wasn’t an entirely happy one. Lovecraft and his family briefly moved into a rental property and into the home of a family friend while work on their new house was being done, but before the house could be completed, Lovecraft’s father was stricken by a condition that doctors called “a general paralysis of the insane”. He was committed to the hospital where he would die five years later, while Lovecraft and his mother moved back to the Angell Street home.

There, he was surrounded by his extended family for much of his childhood, and it’s usually the overprotective nature of his mother and his aunts that is blamed for his chronic ill health. It’s also here that he gained his appetite for knowledge, starting in on reading his way through the home’s library by the time he was four.

There’s another Providence house that’s closely associated with Lovecraft, and it’s mentioned in The Shunned House. The home at 135 Benefit Street is a large, somewhat unassuming yellow house built in 1763. Originally, Rhode Island towns didn’t have a communal cemetery – instead, bodies of family members were simply buried at the home. When Benefit Street was widened, however, that meant there was a necessary relocation of some of the graves for family members that had lived in the house. According to the story, some of the graves of 135 Benefit were forgotten, and remains are still on the grounds.

After the house was built, its original owner found himself falling victim to a patch of extraordinarily bad luck. The ships of his merchant fleet were lost at sea, there were financial problems and, finally, the deaths of several of his children. It’s said that there has never been a live birth on the grounds of the house, and that in part, it’s those deaths that pushed the original owner over the edge. Mrs. Stephen Harris was said to have confined herself to an upstairs room, where neighbors would hear her not only shouting and screaming, but speaking in French – which she hadn’t known before her retreat into the room.

Now a private residence, the home has been considerably updated and restored since its deterioration through the 1920s, and revival in the 1970s.

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