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Spooky! Haunted Mansions In Real Life

October 28, 2009 at 4:59 PM | by | ()

What if the ghost isn't inside the house, but is the house? NPR rounds up three pieces of fiction where houses want their inhabitants to get out, and quickly, like Manderley, the domain of secrets in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca where a skittish second wife tries to root out how her predecessor died.

British writer Du Maurier based her depiction of the mansion on two real-life, but sadly private houses, Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire and Menabilly in Cornwall, having visited one as a child and rented the latter as an adult. While you can't tour either one, you can catch a glimpse of Milton Hall from the nearby Peterborough Milton Golf Club (includes free lessons for beginners!) or stay on the grounds of Menabilly in one of two gamekeepers' cottages offered for rent. And really, do you want to get closer? Probably not.

One potential real-life haunting to add to the list? The Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Massachusetts, now a museum honoring the famously reclusive poet, has been closed for the rest of the week after the ceiling in one room fell in.

The plaster in the parlor wasn't original to the house, but curators are stumped as to what might have caused the cave-in. Clearly the poet just wanted to entertain beyond the grave. Normally, the house and its neighbor (where Dickinson's brother lived) are open to guided tours -- a 40-minute option for $8 or a 90-minute option for $10.

The library at Cushing Academy in nearby Ashburnham, Mass. has become haunted in a completely different way: The coed boarding high school, alma mater of Bette Davis and the WWE's John Cena, has gotten rid of most of its 20,000 books in favor of electronic resources, flat-screens and 65 Kindle e-readers that students can check out. Headmaster Jim Tracy defends the plan, saying students were rarely borrowing books anyway, and the digital library offered by Amazon far outstrips what a dead-tree library can hold, but the move is wildly unpopular even among students.

Senior Gaby Skok told USA Today she respected the head, but asked "Has he read a dystopian novel?" It's good to know that she's doing her reading regardless.

Related Stories:
· Three Hauntingly Unforgettable Literary Houses [NPR]
· The Cornwall of Daphne Du Maurier [HistoryNet]
· Plaster Problems in Emily Dickinson’s Parlor [NY Times Artsbeat]
· School chooses Kindle; are libraries for the history 'books'? [USA Today]

[Photo: zoezolka]

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