I sold a print of this house, which Trish and I photographed last April, on Friday morning. Which is good, but the reason why I sold it sucks: it burned to the ground about 2:00 in the morning.
The woman who bought the print said her husband grew up across the street from the house and used to play in it as a kid, so she wants to give him the print as a Christmas present. He was one of nine kids, and they all played there as children, so she might be buying more.
No one’s lived there in decades and it has no electricity, so when I heard about it I pretty much figured it had to be arson. But I thought it would turn out be accidental: teens having a bonfire or homeless people trying to stay warm, it got out of hand, oops. Turns out it was deliberately set by a bunch of grown-ass men; they were drunk and smoking pot and trying to “summon ghosts” (the place has a reputation of being haunted, which I’m sure is bullshit), and when they didn’t show up, one of them decided to set the place on fire. You can’t see it, but I’m making the angriest, most disgusted face you ever saw right now.
I never could figure out who owned this property when I researched it earlier in the year; turns out a foundation has owned it since the 1960s with the stated intention of restoring it. They’ve collected about $100 million towards that goal and spent about 1% of it, mostly in the form of huge salaries for themselves. Typical Louisiana corruption, in other words. Too bad they couldn’t have parted with some of that money to hire a night watchman.
It’s a very eerie feeling, to know that something I photographed is gone forever. That must have been how Clarence John Laughlin felt towards the end of his life, going over the plates for Ghosts Along the Mississippi and realizing that about 1/3 of those houses are just gone.
I’d like to go photograph what’s left, but that’s going to have to wait because it’s probably still an active crime scene right now.