The Master of Horror’s House
Even spookier than his books? His front yard.
It was a gloomy day - the cold, quiet, solemn kind - when my family and I made the long journey to Bangor, Maine. We had spent over 7 hours escaping a tropical storm. Back home in New Jersey, the power was cut, houses were flooded, and the fence in our backyard had been damaged from a fallen tree. But in the northeastern part of the United States, all you could feel was leftover tension.
After checking into a hotel, my father proposed that he, my mom, my brother and I take a five minute car ride to a historical part of town near the Penobscot River. There were beautiful things to behold: little lobster shacks by the water, winding railroad tracks, brick buildings on Main Street that looked like they'd seen a hundred years pass by. It was the kind of town you see on the back of postcards, without the hordes of tourists.
The downtown area was pleasing enough, but a suburb on West Broadway was prettier. There were rows of double-decker Victorian homes hidden behind trees and lush gardens. As my father parked the car next to a curb, I saw a family throwing a small barbecue in a pretty pink house across the street. This was the kind of manicured neighborhood where the wealthy - folks with old money - raised their kids and threw parties in the summertime. A very peaceful place.
Yet in the midst of pastel manors and beautiful shrubbery, one estate stuck out like a black cat among roses.
"We're here," Dad said. "Look out your window, Katy."
Towering above was a building I can only describe as sharp. Sharp black spires on top of pointed roofs. Sharp iron fencing twisting into spider webs and bat wings. Sharp cedar trees, sharp symmetrical pathways, and a sharp red color reminiscent of fresh blood.
This was Stephen King's house.
You would think a world-famous author like The Master of Horror would live in a bustling city like New York or Chicago. But the beauty of being a novelist is that you can do your work from anywhere in the world. Stephen King's home (and the setting for many of his stories), has always been Maine. He's sort of the patron saint of the Pine Tree State. For a busy writer, Maine's seclusiveness is a boon.
Having studied Mr. King's life during a creative writing course my last semester of college, I couldn't help but feel proud when looking up at his private residency. He came from a poor background, having worked at a laundromat and gas station before Carrie put him on the map. Stephen King's American Dream is not a house with a white picket fence and station wagon in the driveway, but a haunted-looking manor with black gates and a tan Mercedes parked by the side door.
I love how regal, yet eerie his home is. The overcast sky the day of my visit adds to the spook factor of my photographs. The exterior of 47 West Broadway definitely has Addams Family vibes, and the pure white curtains over the windows add mystery to its interior. What could be hiding inside King's house? An axe-clad Jack Torrance? Annie Wilkes reading Misery novels? Pennywise The Dancing Clown?
Besides the house itself, King's outdoor property has a lot to boast. Next to his abode stands a golden totem pole of a statue. Fifteen feet high and carved from a deceased ash tree which used to be on the estate, it features several crows, cats, frogs, fungi, an owl, a corgi, and a dragon all congregated near a bookcase. Quite appropriate for the King family, considering both Stephen and Tabitha are renowned authors.
Josh Landry, the artist, created it using a chainsaw. To me, it almost looks like a pagan statue.
In a garden on the outer edge of his property, a bloated green frog hops for visitors. He is camouflaged by high grass and tree branches, but easy to spot when close by. Apparently, it was gifted to Stephen King by the publisher of his book, Duma Key. Rumor has it his wife collects amphibian-themed items.
Besides statues, I also noticed another red structure behind the home. At first I thought it was a small guest house for visitors (that day, there were three cars in the driveway and King's side gate was open!), but upon doing some research, I now know it is a three-car garage. King's property also has an indoor pool, a barn, and a writing studio in the rear of the manor. If I were a ghost, 47 West Broadway would be my dream house to haunt.
Despite all of the alluring features, what surprises me most about King's residency is how boisterous, yet hidden-in-plain-sight it is. I watched a trio of teenagers stroll past the gothic estate as though it were just another house in the neighborhood. I've heard the outside of King's yard can get packed with tourists, but that day, nobody but my family came to look at it.
It's not the house itself that makes King's property creepy, but the place where it is located - the silence and unassuming nature of it all. Maine is on the outskirts of the United States. It is where many go to retreat. Soon, King's house will become a writer's retreat and archive. But for now, it is the spooky red heart of Bangor. It is a dark fortress in the middle of happy provincial life. It is where best-selling nightmares are born.
As we passed the iron fence to explore the rest of the suburb, Dad tapped me on the shoulder.
"What's that in the window?" he said in a concerning tone. He pointed to the second story. I felt my heart quicken. Did he see Stephen King, or could it be something else?
I gave him a playful punch on the shoulder. "Har har. Very funny."
As far as I know, The Master of Horror's house is not actually cursed. But just like reading one of his novels, it's fun to give in to the terror. xxx
Thanks for reading! If you'd like to send me a message or see what I'm up to outside of Vocal, you can follow me @katyisaladybug on social media. If you'd like to read another Stephen King-themed article of mine, check out "Why Bayville, NJ is a Stephen King Town." I think if Mr. King didn't reside in Maine, he'd find my super haunted hometown a great place to live.
Thanks for any likes and/or tips. Until the next story.