April 7, 2012

History or Imagination

A friend of mine over at G+, Margaret O' Rourke, posted a couple of pictures from her daily run. It's what looks like a small typical Irish mansion or castle ground remnants.

This brought back some memories of a place back home in NY. Just above Hemlock Lake, there is a set of buildings that can be seen for at least 10 miles away. As a kid, I always thought it was a castle. You know how a kids imagination can be!

It wasn't until probably around 2000 when I made my first trip to actually find this place. A lot of dirt back roads, lot of wild life, etc. Once I did find it, I didn't stick around to much, as it was getting dark. But now i knew how to get there.

It wasn't until a few years later I returned with my then (now ex) fiance. Last thing I recall, I was told it was a Missionary. But at one time, it used to be part of a winery. However, some other stories, had stated it was a winery run by monks, so in fact it was a missionary. Regardless of what it was or is now, there's not a lot I have been able to find on it.

When I had pulled up in front of the sprawling buildings and got out, you had a sense of awe and yet hair raising creepiness around you. The sky was slightly overcast, a slight cool breeze shifted the falling leaves on the ground. I had parked right in front of the main building, and started walking up the sidewalk. At the first landing of two stairs, there was a banister on either side, with statues on them. But something struck me as very odd. The sound of concrete. I took a step back down and "stomped." It was hollow underneath. Took another step back, it was solid. I repeated my stomps up the two stairs and a few feet past. Basically, everything with in a five foot diameter of the landing was hollow underneath. But for what purpose? If you know me, at this point, my mind started created all sorts of wild tales.

As i started to take pictures, I saw someone move in one of the upper windows behind a curtain. Didn't pay it much attention at the time. Off to my right was a fairly large statue of stone. Weather worn, high grass around it's base, it looked like it came right out of one of Poe's tales. I needed pictures. So I snapped a few. That's when I had heard a woman's voice behind me. "What are you doing here?" I jumped a bit.

This lady looked like she had come out of one of Romero's horror flicks. Just not fully zombified yet. And her eyes seemed like they were trying to read my mind. I avoided eye contact. I told her I was a graphics student, and I had a project due, where I had to model some buildings in full 3D and since a kid, I always wanted to have a place like this. Basically half full of crock shit. Well, all except the last part.

She told me, they didn't want to be bothered and they didn't want any pictures taken. Now, this is where I started to get further creeped out.

First of all, who is "we?" It didn't look like anyone lived here for at least 10 years. Nothing in the windows except the one I saw someone move behind a few minutes ago. The grass hadn't been cut in months. In essence, all signs of life, apart from wildlife seemed to be all but existent at this place.

I advised her, and pleaded with her as I had learned in college, to at least give me about 30 minutes. And I promised I wouldn't go into the buildings. I just needed pictures of the outside. Finally she agreed. But, I was not to go behind the buildings. And this was something she stressed. Like there was some long forgotten ancient ritual "they" were doing back there that was for their eyes only.

So, i watched as this woman walked away. And i did notice a small limp. Upon a quick closer look, i noticed one show had a slightly larger sole then the other. Shrugged it off and went about taking pictures.

The darkness started to come in, and the bitch of a fiance at the time was getting creeped out. "I want to go." "I don't like it here." Argh....

We were at the far side of the left of the buildings when I spotted it. A small alcove of stones in a circular pattern. So I carefully made my way down the incline and stopped frozen. To my right was a stone archway, that led to a small 5x5 room dug out of the side of the hill. Engraved into a flat stone and set into the archway at the apex were the words, "Grotto of Life." Had no idea at the time what it was. But it sure as hell was creepy with all the vines covering it. Looked like "anything" could have walked through there in a heartbeat. I found a total of 4 of these. The only other one that I could read the sign on read, "Grotto of Pain." All the others were too overgrown with vines to get close to.

I soon hear that ladies voice again, asking what I was doing. We went through the whole spiel again, this time she advised it was time i left. It was actually getting dark. To the point, you could really no longer see the trail. So we left. But that woman, still gave me the creeps. As i opened the door to the truck i glanced up and saw someone standing yet again at the window. I couldn't get a clear idea if it was male or female, young or old. But it was someone.

So why this story? Well, I like history. Not school book history. But actual history i can touch.  Margret's photo's touched on this. The house in her pictures wasn't built yesterday. It's been there a very long time. And there has to be some history to it that isn't in public record.

Plus the fact I have an over active imagination, I like to think of what could have happened or gone on.

Here's a picture, not sure when it's dated of the missionary. Last I knew it was called Hemlock Lake Holistic Health Center.

And here is a overhead view via Google Maps of the grounds. The grotto's are in the little valley to the south of the buildings in the wooded area.

At one time, I even wrote a short, macabre story about this place using my imagination. Maybe one day, I'' get it posted.



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