Last week, I wrote about one of my favorite Haints characters, Uncle Lacey. This week, I’d like to introduce another (sort of) character, one that inspired much of the ancient-yet-timeless atmosphere of the book: the house with five ways in.
My family had a farm in upper-East Tennessee for more than twenty years. The was a long, winding driveway that passed our house and dead-ended at the tobacco barn. But, before you got to the big, white house with the wrap-around porch and gingerbread in the eaves, there was a grayed, sagging hulk of a house tucked in one bend of the gravel drive. It wasn’t the original homestead; that one was a hand-hewn log cabin. (My dad took it apart where it was rotting at the edge of the woods and rebuilt it as a charming potting shed near the big house. He marked the logs where they fit together so they’d be easier to re-assemble…unfortunately, he used pencil to mark them, so he couldn’t see what he’d written. He had to re-cut the notches and do it all over anyway!)
I was fascinated by the old gray house. Its windows were there–windows are just holes in the walls, after all–but the glass was all gone. Its tall, hand-stacked stone chimney stood to lend support to the rest of the house, which sagged away like it just wanted to lie down in the blackberry brambles and rest. But, most remarkably to me, there were five doors from outside to inside the house. And no doors between the inside rooms. There was a kitchen, of course. And a sitting room/dining room. There were bedrooms upstairs. Those must have been bitter cold in the winter, though the heat might have baked pleasantly from the chimney stones.
While some Appalachian old-timers we asked conceded they’d seen that style of construction in other houses from the prior century, none could give a satisfactory answer about why it was done that way. So, you know, I made up a reason.
You’ll have to read Haints to find out more! It won’t be long, now. I’m reviewing edits from my publisher today, then it’s off to begin design and formatting.
Do you have any quirky architectural memories you’d like to share? Comment below or send me a DM.
P.S. The gray house has since been burned down–for the local firefighters’ practice, so I’m told. I grieved a little when I found out.