BySarah Elizabeth Whittington, writer at

My husband and I love adventure and travel. His job takes us to many places but the most interesting place would have to be the sleepy town of Towanda Pa. There is a large house on York ave, built probably around 1860something or other. We had been staying at a B&B but we were looking for a place to rent. My husband had gotten a friend on where he worked and the friend had brought his mother along for the travel so he could look out for her. We had all planned on finding a place large enough for us to share the rent and his mother and I had made fast friends in spite of a 30 year age difference. York ave which is also Main st is comprised mostly of large, beautiful, old homes built in the middle to late 1800s and many of them had their helpful "For Rent" signs hanging from the porch and a phone number to call if you decided to look closely enough at the signs. This was a happy thing for me because I hate looking for rental listing online and prefer to do it the old fashioned way. My husband was off work early and we were told about a 5 bedroom by a coworker, and we were given the number to call. The man on the other end of the line was elderly, friendly and apparently well off. He informed us that he owned ten properties in the area (most of them historical properties) but the one we were inquiring about had already been rented. We are from the deep south. Most of the historical homes here are kept in good repair by the historical society, but in Towanda this isn't so. There may be a plaque outside the house that states who built it and when, but this is as far as it goes because many of these homes are in a bit of disrepair. We love old homes and don't mind the shabby/grandeur, so we were excited about the possibility of living in one of these homes. The man on the other end of the line told us he had a house a block or two from the B&B. He stayed on the phone with us as we pulled into the drive and explained that it was locked but a key was hidden under a rock by the door and for us not to be scared off by the sound of a radio playing. He explained that he kept it on so the home didn't sound so empty and he didn't make to Towanda often due to the distance between his home in NY and his rentals. This man was so accommodating over the phone, so nice. He told us it had 11 bedrooms and had some furnishings so if we wanted we could spend to night. He explained that all the utilities were included and if we liked it he would work out a price that was cheap. When we walked in I was taken back by the staircase that curved up to the second floor. The second floor staircase that went to the third floor was quite straight. The first floor was amazing! It was like something out of a movie. The wooden floors, the ceilings, the huge double glass door to the front entrance, it was all original. Not in the best shape at all. This house was old, rotten and spooky. The second floor had the strangest layout. It couldn't have been it's original design but had been redone no less than 70 years ago. The ugly, ancient emerald green carpet was musty and unsettling. It looked like something you would wrap up and abandon a corpse in the woods with. We quickly began to understand the owner wasn't very familiar with this property, it contained eight bedrooms on the second floor alone. It seemed so much larger on the inside than what it looked to be on the outside. Eight bedrooms and three bathrooms. The doors to each room had at one time been labled in a way, we could tell by the small rectangular space that was left cleaner than the rest of the door and the two small nail holes on each side. The halls on the second floor led a peculiar trail about the place and gave those who navigated it the sensation one gets in a darkened carnival mirror maze. It took several trips around the 2nd floor to understand how many rooms it had and where the stairs were. I still couldn't draw a map of the 2nd floor if I wanted to, I never understood how rooms could be so strangely place. It was is if the architect of this oddity had gotten his idea from something a child had thrown together. Various sizes of boxes set unevenly inside a larger box. Some rooms you had to step down into, some you had to step up. The hallway would go straight and then narrow and then run off at an odd angle just to open back up to a larger hall with more rooms off of it. Inside the rooms you could see where a window had once been but had been boarded up and plastered over just to have another window placed directly beside it. After making a loop of the 2nd floor we headed to the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor was made up of five more bedrooms and a single bath. The doors had the same cleanish space where a lable or plaque had once been. We then assumed that at some time a family owning the home had run a boarding house out of the place. The floors were sporadically carpeted in the same ugly green mess as the 2nd floor. It felt as if the house was swaying in a breeze, ready to give up its fight against the assault of time and seasons of neglect. At the end of the hall on this floor was an opening to the staircase once used by servants and beside this was a small door. I was reluctant to open it but upon doing so I found a horribly thin wooden staircase leading to the attic. I love the idea of hidden things and shades lurking but this house didn't seem fun anymore. I felt stressed and saddened. We began talkin about how it was such a shame that this house was allowed to just sit here and rot and how if we had this house we would return it to its former state. We became agitated at the pitiful disrepair as one does when letting a friend borrow an item they return to you broken. I wanted to leave the musty smell of the place but at the same time I didn't want to go at all. We made our way down the sagging servants stairs to the first floor and couldnt bring ourselves to go outside. We explored the first floor more throughly and aside from the randomly placed antique furniture we found nothing of interest. We again wandered to the 2nd floor and entered each room, spending a length of time standing in the middle of it then departing for the next room to repeat the same actions. By the 5th room I found I had began to walk back and forth through the room, opening the broken antique dresser and desk drawers. I felt hurried and in search of an item but not frenzied, only agitated at the loss of it. I went to each room after that, opening drawers and checking sills as a woman would do after misplacing her wedding ring while tidying. After my unwarranted search of the 2nd floor we then climbed to the 3rd where again I began to plunder. The third room I entered there was a small chest of drawers. I approached it, opened the first drawer and a shifting sound came from within. There were several 2×4 inch, dark wooden objects I had at first thought to be small rulers but quickly noticed instead of marks of measurement, they had names finely etched on them. Names not often used anymore. Eunice, Molsie, Una, Alice, Constance, Ruth, Atlas, Lonnie, Emerson, Adair and Bart. These once hung on the 11 bedroom doors. After my find my husband and I began to make our way back again to the 1st floor when our phone rang. It was the owner of the property, he asked if we enjoyed the place and again offered for us to sleep there for the night. Our visit to the home had left us feeling disconnected and drowsy but we had no intention or desire to sleep here so we thanked him greatly for his kindness and complimenting him on the beauty of the home we made excuses as to why we weren't interested in the rental. "It's too large" we said. In truth the house felt bitter and unwelcoming. The owner offered a rental price too good to be true and if we had not have spent so many hours inside or had still been inside at the time of his phone call we would have thrilled to take his offer but the fresh air and twilight of the outdoors had cleared our heads and whatever spell this house so easily casts had been broken. We were all but inside our car when the owner asked if we had remembered to turn out all the lights. We had not. We had not remembered to turn out one single light. My husband and I agreed to both go in and quickly from top to bottom darken the rooms and head back for the comfort of the B&B. We both stepped into the hall of the 3rd floor and began flipping the light switches. When believed we had completed the third floor when we both noticed we had forgotten a room. It was a large room next to the bath with its door so close to the bathroom door that I'm sure I hadn't even noticed it. The light spilled onto the floor from under the door so one of us had to have entered to turn it on. The light switch was not beside the door but near where the bed was so we both fully entered to room and next to the light switch there was another door that opened to another large room that i didnt recall seeing and this door still had its plaque with his name etched on it. On the floor as if it had fallen and been accidently kicked to the side was another small dark wood plaque. It was late and we had become weary of wakefulness. We bid eachother good night and retired to our rooms. My sleep was heavy and restful. We spent the day with our friends. The woman in the room next to mine plays chess and can give you quite a game. The owners are so accommodating! My darling husband spent all night in the parlor carrying on with the others but I suppose it's good for a man to talk about things best left to men. Yesterday someone knocked at the main door and when no one let them in they took it upon themselves to enter. It doesn't matter because there are no vacancies here. They will have to find other accommodations. We are all full up and no one here is planning on leaving.


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