Monday, June 24, 2013

Lion House

A large mansion sits along an affluent Boulevard in my city.  The mansion is white with red steps leading up to the front door, and two somber stone lions guard the porch.   It is an old, eccentric, and beautiful home, done in the Spanish Mission style; all of which makes it prime real estate for a ghost story. 

And, behold- there is such a story surrounding the Lion House of Harrison Blvd.  Its origin belongs to a child that drowned decades ago in the basement pool.  The pool, having caused such lasting devastation to the family, was filled in and boarded up; but this was not enough to subdue the spirit of the small boy who perished.

Well, that is one version.

Other reports say there never was an indoor swimming pool, and the truth is that a child did drown in that neighborhood in the 1930's; but in an outdoor pool, one or two houses down from the Lion House.

The idea that the home is haunted perpetuated a few years back when a local historian received a tour, and was told by the owner that a ghost of a woman roamed the mansion searching for her lost child.  When asked how the ghost made herself known, the owner referred to electrical variances and noises in the she discovered the ghost's motivation, let alone gender- I do not know.  The only plausible witnesses; the two stone lions- weren't added to the home till the 1980's, and therefore, were not on guard to witness any truth in the myths surrounding the house.   

What we do know is that the construction of the Lion House dates back to 1911.  Its Spanish style was inspired by the builder's experience living in San Diego, CA.  The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 inspired him further to build the house with concrete walls, 12 inches thick.  It was an impenetrable safe house.  It was home to a former Governor and other influential residents. 

So why am I blogging about an improbable ghost story, seemingly unrelated to my own life?  I attended a lecture a few days ago regarding local myths and how they influence society; how they bring people together to form plausible explanations of the weird and strange.  How difficult they are to vanquish despite all our modern principles and research.  How necessary they are to our survival as a community, and how slowly, over time, for good or for bad, they become our history.  All this made me realize that the story of the Lion House is quite important.  Every vicious local legend, every family story I knew growing up- that we are distantly related to Marie Antoinette; that we bear some long lost connection to Andrew Carnegie- formed a framework for ideas, hope, pride, horror, and finally- the ability to embrace the unexplainable.  Together we share a unique history- verifiable or not, that we cannot shake.  How will our history evolve as we grow older; as time puts more distance between the story and the truth?   Will they be used to unite, or manipulated to cause division?   Or, are stories too strong to be wrangled, too wild to contain?  Each year spreading out further and further from their origin, until they can only exist as acceptable fact.   

For now, if you research the Lion House, you will come across conflicting reports- pool, no pool- ghost, no ghost.  Either way, it truly is a gorgeous building, a lovely landmark of this city, and that beauty in itself is sufficient to render it absolutely haunting.   

Take a tour inside the Lion House and decide for yourself:

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