Sunday, 1 July 2012

Would you buy a house

where murders had recently been committed?
The weekend magazine section of our paper has an article about this. Someone is trying to sell the bank and house (an attached residence) in Snowtown. There were some particularly grisly murders committed there - so bad that the land agent has suggested that, if anyone does want to buy the place, the building could be turned into a "tourist attraction".
I for one would not want to visit such an "attraction". It holds no such attraction for me.
My own feeling is that it is one of those rare instances in which the government, which originally owned the property anyway, should step in. They should demolish the building and perhaps turn the land into public garden instead. It is not the sort of tourist attraction any town needs. The Snowtown locals do not want it either.
I also believe that land agents should be required to inform people of the use to which a house has been put within living memory. There are people who do not feel comfortable at the thought of living in houses where certain actrivities have taken place.
My mother was like that. When my parents moved back to the city after many years of teaching in rural schools there was going to be the problem of where to live. They had not, like many people, had the opportunity to buy a house. They were required to live in Education Department provided accommodation and pay rent for that.  Even with a deposit they would be considered too old to get a mortgage.
Just before they returned to the city though my maternal grandmother died. It left the house my mother's parents owned empty. My mother shared the inheritance with her brother. Her brother had his own home. He did not need it. My parents moved in and used the money they had saved to pay out my uncle. They had a house.
It was not a good house. My mother hated it. The physical house was in fair shape but it was filled with memories of my mother's unhappy childhood. Everywhere she looked their were reminders of her parents, particularly her mother. My mother was firmly rooted in reality. She was not an imaginative woman but she felt as if there were "ghosts" there. They were not the sort who appear or menace you. They were just there.
The house was painted out. Some of the furniture went and other furniture was brought in. The dining room was converted to a bedroom and the little pantry off it was turned into a wardrobe.  The garden was altered. It was still not enough.
My father retired first. He went searching and found the block of land on which this house stands. He showed it to my mother. They did the sums and decided they could, just, afford to build a house without memories.
The house now has memories. I wonder what it is like for my father to be constantly reminded of my mother. There are things I have not changed because my father would notice.
Yesterday however I cleared out a drawer and quietly disposed of some things I have never used. They have gone to the charity shop. My father will not notice their absence. He does not do the cooking. I do not need the ghosts.


Miriam said...

There are two questions here. Would I buy a house where murders had been committed? I don't think I would. Possibly I would if major changes were made to it.

Would I live in the house I grew up in? Yes, I don't think memories of the house itself would bother me. The hardest part would be to live in that area. But I'd do it if necessary.

JO said...

Would I buy a house where a murder had been committed - it would depend how long ago. In living memory - no. It would feel too difficult to live with the knowledge of that violence where I was trying to sleep. But if it was centuries ago, part of the myth of the house - they maybe. I would then be part of the long-term story of the house.

And live in the house I was brought up in - no. I'm such a different person now I don't need the daily reminders of any childhood luggage.

catdownunder said...

I am glad other people feel the same way!