For those of you that are new around here, I have another passion besides writing and, actually, it’s an all consuming one for my wife. We’ve both worked in haunted houses in the past – her more so than me – and her dream has always been to own a Halloween haunt of our own. To make a long story very short, two years ago we turned our house into a haunt for charity and last year we went full commercial in rented space with a cast of actors from our local area and a few assorted others that traveled in once or twice…or more, to take part.
This year, space we’d planned on being able to lease long term off a charitable foundation that exits for the benefit of our community, isn’t going to be available. It’s tied up in litigation between two parties aside from the foundation. We made a decision to buy a post frame building and put it on land we already own here in the community. We started scrimping and saving, found a corporate sponsor and even held a fundraising effort to get enough funds to buy the building, remove an old barn, clear the land, take out a tree that was going to be in the way of electrical service (and was already starting to interfere with power lines), run service, raise the roof and electrify the whole thing. We’re doing most of it out of pocket with a few thousand in help from our sponsor and some generous family and friends.
Here’s the old barn that was falling down and a safety hazard anyway that had to be removed (Note to self: Call the insurance company and tell them it’s gone). You can’t tell it from this distant photo but many of the upper roof panels were missing. There was a lot of rot to the old, oak roof framing, the loft floor and the beams that were meant to support the floor. Some were upset to see us tear it down since it was built pre-1900 but most understood that it wasn’t in usable or restore-able condition. The siding was fairly good wood though with plenty of age and character. Our demolition man – who worked for free in order to keep any profits he could make off the tin and wood – is reselling the siding to people who make furniture and crafts.
Recently, we got a quote from AEP to run electrical service back to the new ‘barn’. It wasn’t too shocking – pun intended – but rather a pleasant surprise at about 1/3rd of what we’d been led to expect. That’s just to run the service back there though. That’s not to connect it. A licensed electrician has to do that part and he/she will also need to install all of our lighting, outlets, emergency exit signs, etc.
One thing AEP told us was that this tree needed to be topped or removed to run the service. It was a beautiful pear tree (that wasn’t bearing fruit yet) that was located at the very front of our property. The previous owners of our home planted it there. When we bought this house less than three years ago, it stood at less than half of it’s height in this picture. It grew several feet a year.
The base was starting to hang over the driveway and from about 12 feet up, the branches and top were starting to interfere in the power lines. Topping a tree shaped like this and having it look right would mean fully shaping it and repeating the process annually, given it’s growth rate. There wasn’t any way to move it given the rock landscaping the former home owner did all around it so we decided to go ahead and take it down. I’m sure we’ll catch some flack for it from people in the village that weren’t in the loop and didn’t know we were doing it. Usually, everyone knows everything about everybody around here but I’m sure some folks were ‘out of town’ the day we made this decision public.
Here’s a shot of it coming down:
It was a sad moment but a necessary one. Now, we’re scheduled to take delivery of the building kit on Wednesday. We’re waiting on our dozer guy to come and level and then we can start construction. We hope to have it standing by mid June and electrified by late June or early July. The real fun begins after that, haunt design!
If you’re interested in following along as I document this other major part of my creative life, keep your eye on the blog and photo posts at http://www.HagansHouseOfHorrors.com.
For those of you who read this far, you’ll be happy to know that the next book in the Morelville Mysteries series, Hannah’s Hope is on track for a mid to late mid-June release. I’ll just say that we’re taking several characters in a whole new direction with this one. A synopsis to be released soon…stay tuned!