People & Places

Best candidate for a Ghost Hunters investigation

Illustration By Don Button

Visit to read about some paranormal enthusiasts’ experiences at 2131 H Street.

The house at 2131 H Street

To the vacant house at 22nd and H streets,

Bicycling up H Street, I always stop to study you—to see what I can see from the sidewalk near your giant palm trees. I can’t pass you by without grazing your green and gold iron fence with my fingertips, admiring your stained-glass windows and gazing at the old lions’ heads above your front door. What are those lions protecting, I wonder. Whom have they watched over in the past? Who spent happy childhoods in your yard, cried lonely tears in your sitting room, burned toast in your kitchen?

I wish I knew something about architecture—what words your designers used to describe you. I try to count the chimneys—are there two? Three? I take note of the furnishings inside you—a chair partially visible, yellowing lace curtains—and begin to feel bitter about the state you’re in. How long has it been since someone walked through your front gate? The lock and chain are all covered with cobwebs and tree matter. Someone’s tossed a copy of the new Yellow Pages over your fence; others have left trash—an empty beer bottle and crumpled paper—in the grass at the corner of your yard.

Why do you sit neglected when you are loved by so many? Did you know that a friend of mine, your neighbor across the street, rented her apartment just so she could see you out her bedroom window? Another friend told me all about her favorite house while we were out getting some exercise one day. She took me straight to you.

We love you for your exterior beauty, it’s true. But we’re also overwhelmed when we imagine how beautiful you must be on the inside. We’re dying to know you better.

I looked you up on the Internet—by address, by description. Seems some enthusiasts of the paranormal have conducted rudimentary investigations to determine whether or not you’re haunted. Is that why you sit abandoned, with wood panels covering your lower-level windows? Have you scared everyone away?

Someone claimed to have seen a face in an upstairs window, though the image looked to me like an ordinary reflection. He also said a “strange, nauseating, death-like odor” followed him around the perimeter of your property. He set up recording devices and thought he saw a “hazy figure” standing near the back of the front porch. I guess it didn’t show up on the video, though. He also claimed his camera repeatedly shut off whenever he tried to photograph your second story and attic.

Another admirer described the strange experiences of a family living in you in the 1970s: crashing glassware and the sound of a struggle in the kitchen when no one was around, cats fading in and out of reality, a “panting presence,” ghosts and rumors of a murder.

I went so far as to look up your parcel number, to find out who owns you. Turns out it’s a family trust with a mailing address in Roseville. No one answered my letter, though, or responded to the note I left in your mailbox.

I’d love to walk through your hallways, to see your many rooms and look out your dusty windows. But I’d settle for watching a crew of people, like the cast of Ghost Hunters, explore you on TV. At least then I could love you for the whole you—for what you are on the inside as well as how beautiful you look from my vantage point on the sidewalk at the corner of 22nd and H streets.

—Sarah Sol

People & Places
Writers’ choice

People & Places
Readers’ choice