Growing up in Massachusetts, there was never any shortage of ghost houses: crumbling, hundred year-old derelicts that would fuel many a sleepover double-dog-dare (“I double dog dare to you to knock on the door!” “No way!” “Wuss!”).
One of my favorites was just a few blocks from my house, a gorgeous Federal mansion that had been abandoned for decades.
Of the dozens of eldritch legends ascribed to the shadowy home by sleeping-bagged storytellers, perhaps the eeriest concerns a young man who is said to have lit himself on fire in the front hall. Even stranger, his father, who had been writing at the time, upon hearing the screams, stuck his head in to watch – and then returned to his work.
I loved these stories growing up, and I’ve always felt a bit sorry of the kids of New York – land is at such a premium in the city that few houses are allowed to stay this way for long before being torn down and replaced by a bland modern construction.
For this reason, I’m always on the lookout for the type of house an adolescent New Yorker might walk a little faster by on his way home at night. One of my favorites is located off of 31st Street in Queens:
An old Victorian adjacent to the N line, 3101 37th Avenue has been abandoned as long as I’ve been scouting:
To me, 31-01 has all the details that make for a perfect ghost house: a looming facade, sharp, menacing angles…
A weed-strewn front yard and battered door…
…rotting wood and lots of broken windows:
I wish I knew some history about 3101 37th Avenue, but there’s little to be found online. Despite the disrepair, a few interesting details have survived, like this squiggly pattern above the door:
A seashell design above a window:
And even some fishscale shingles on the upper story:
While 3101 37th Ave might have little else to offer while it awaits its inevitable demise, I can only hope it’s serving as a muse to dozens of young storytellers conjuring up unspeakable monstrosities within in its walls.
There’s something to be said for that sort of inspiration.
Have a favorite New York City ghost house? Let me know about it in the comments!