Before there was a house, in 1777, the retreating and defeated union army ushered their dead and wounded back across the dirt following the battle of Germantown, 152 and 521 souls respectively in total. The house was built by Civil War veterans for a widow who buried her husband in 1864, disinterred him in 1892 and moved his remains to Laurel Hill Cemetery so she wouldn’t have to leave her beloved Philadelphia when she died four years later.
From 1900-1920, a renowned dental surgeon held his practice in the parlor. His hands were deft, but the tools were crude and the sedatives scant. In 1934, a bride was wed in the same parlor wearing a gown of blush queen satin with long sleeves, a veil that flowed from a cap held by orange blossoms, and carrying a bouquet of gardenias to match the wallpaper, now cracked and boarded up behind the walls. She, presumably, rests more comfortably. There is a door that leads to nowhere in the basement and a lone stool found tucked into a recessed corner nearby.
You are cordially invited to our new very old home for a low key, candlelit Halloween evening. Bring a dish or drink as an offering. We don’t like to offend our ghosts.
Thus read the invitation to the Halloween party we threw on Saturday. It is, by the way, all true, at least insofar as our preliminary research has uncovered.
As soon as we were under contract, I began inviting folks to our Halloween party. Friends, acquaintances. I really had no concept of the sheer exhaustion that would settle in after the excitement of moving wore off, but no matter. My collection of unsettling portraits and lifelong obsession with the Victorian macabre have been waiting for this moment.
I’d had a vague idea for an outfit, but a stop at one of my favorite thrift stores yielded the perfect white-and-ominously-splattered gown. Nikki went as Bob Ross, forever the perfect calm counterbalance to my flair for the dramatic.
I’d purchased a number of Lill curtains as inexpensive window coverings, but hadn’t hung them yet, and they turned anything we wanted to hide- unpacked boxes, ugly ceiling fans, non-spooky pantry goods- into a ghostly feature. We’re planning to paint the foyer walls next, so we pre-painted with fake blood hand prints and spectral greetings.
Our friends showed up in spades with food, drink and costume and Nik made a killer playlist for the night. That is how you successfully throw a party for 60 or so guests three weeks after moving in. Not quite a housewarming, but there’s something about the back-of-the-neck chill that suits me better anyway.