The House Stays in the Family

Informant Bio

My informant is a film student at USC who grew up in Pinole, California (Bay Area). She lived there with her mother, sister, and their dogs; her mother bred golden retrievers. Her mother had, and has, many friends among their neighbors, so my informant always seems to know the town gossip, even now when she is away at school.

My informant hopes to become a feature film director; her favorite film genres are historical fiction, film noir, and thriller.

The Haunted House

In Pinole there is a large Victorian house on a hilltop property that belonged to a friend of my informant’s family. The house had been built at the turn-of-the-century by the current owner’s ancestors. Other members of the owner’s family claim that the house is haunted by the previous tenants, all members of the same paternal line. Many claim to have seen familiar looking spirits roaming the halls. The family also claims that whenever a member of the current owner’s paternal line has died, a tree falls on the property.

My informant remembers that when she would visit there as a child, the house was so large and spacious that it was “spooky.” She also remembers that the house was never finished. When she used to go there with her mother the owner was actively involved in renovations, so strange things would seem to be missing or disassembled. “For a long time when I would go up there… so, the house was on a hill, so it wasn’t easy to get to, but still, for a long time there were no doorknobs. [He] took them all out. Anyone could reach their arm through the hole and open the door to come in the house.” My informant clearly found it unnerving that a man could go for so long with no doorknobs or locks on his doors.

One does not often hear these days of land remaining in an American family for generations upon generations. Clearly the story of the hauntings and the trees dying with the newly dead shows the strength of the family’s connection with that land, and their unwillingness to leave it. It doesn’t seem too far of a leap from saying that a family will never leave their property to, no member of the family (living or dead) has ever left the property.