Monday, March 1, 2010

Why are older homes more haunted?



I hear this question a lot and I have to say, there’s actually a wide array of reasons. The first begins with how people die:

Up until around the WWI time period, most everyone died at home. They weren’t taken into hospitals for their dwindling time, the doctors came to them, often only able to prescribe some pain relief with laudanum before leaving the family to deal with the passing. As well, these deaths would have been agonizing and slow, creating an emotional release in the environment that could very well imprint on the surfaces and structure of the home itself. With the exception of suicide, untimely death, and murder, hardly anyone died in their homes over the past century. One new change, however, has been the advent of hospice in-home care for the dying so they can die with their family around them. This new advancement popularized since the 80s has offered the opportunity for not only compassionate crossovers but comforts the patient to not be in an aseptic environment with strangers as their last sight. This might actually end up having a slow change in the potential for hauntings.

Older homes, as well, have lived many lives. A suburban tract home from mid century is likely to have only been used by families. Older homes, might have been used as hospitals, morgues, TB clinics, retirement homes, and more during their time period, as well as seen battles. Add to this the fact that the more residents, the more emotional and traumatic history.

If we talk construction, older homes were generally located near water sources, i.e. running streams and wells which are often associated with haunted sites. They were built of stone and block construction and less wood which is also associated with haunted sites more often. They also might be located near train tracks where in the past goods were brought to the towns (before semi-trucks came into existence). Train tracks are also associated with heavily haunted areas. These homes were often in geologically rich areas because of good soils and local work mines for jobs and materials such as marble for construction. All of these make a better haunted potential than today’s frame construction in a geologically poor area.

Perhaps the relationship of the people has an accounting for the haunting, as well. A home in the past was passed down through generations. Today, the average family lives 8-10 years in a home and then strangers move in. More often, different generations lived together in the past and saw each other in and out of this world inside that very building where babies were born and the elderly died. The need to remain and communicate might also up the possibility of haunting.

I’m admittedly intrigued about the new and upcoming types of hauntings coming from those mid century homes built during the baby boom following WWII era. Those homes were block constructed, saw some turbulent times amongst the family members from the social uprising and teenaged rebellion of the 60s to the sex/drugs/rock-n-roll of the 70s. The drama alone should have supercharged them. The very objects used to decorate these homes including chrome, glass, leather/vinyl, and ceramics are also objects that highly retain their histories psychically So, what kind of hauntings can we expect from our mid century homes? My guess would be more in the lines of residual.

One-hundred years from now, would a home built in the 1980s seem certainly haunted? My guess is people may believe they’re haunted because of their age, but I believe that honestly most of these homes will not survive without many renovations until they are barely recognizable. I don’t hold a lot of home for frame homes to retain much. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves over time, but linoleum, formica, wood framing(from the 80s onward) are all not that hopeful retainers or conducive to ghostly phenomenon.

The exciting thing is that life is a giant lab and time and testing shows trends. My son speaks for his generation when he says that his art work is spurred on by the inheritance of the crumbling infrastructure of the Baby Boomer generation; old bridges, highways, power lines, and suburbs. Sometimes, it makes me wonder what the breakdown and exposure of this infrastructure does psychically. I have definitely found a correlation between HoHoKam ancient canals in the Mesa area and higher incidence of hauntings. Could that crumbling highway carry out the spirits of the thousands who have died there?

I'd love to hear your opinions on this subject.

9 comments:

  1. I think you did a great job of covering all the aspects of why older homes are more haunted. I think their history has lots to do with it. It seems like the more violent the history, the more reported sitings of paranormal activity. Old homes intrigue me as well as scare me. I would love to investigate one.

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  2. Hey Julie;
    Some day, should I manage to get a producer interested in doing a study of Aspen Grove and I can put together my own team--I will definitely keep you in mind. That house at the cemetery we did the workshop at was a good start, but I didn't get a sense of death from the house, but of some screwed up family dynamics. I adore old homes and antique shops because they're a warehouse of great reads. Now, the Copper Queen where you stayed definitely proved not only age but the really critical importance of geology in order to have things manifest--especially poltergeist-like activity. If I were a statistician, I'd love to come up with a formula that could tell me ahead of time the likelihood of haunting and what the ideal geomagnetic conditions would be for things to happen to pick the right night. I know we're headed that way in the future--I so want to see that!

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  3. this is really interesting. my home was built in 1874 and we are only the third family to live in it. two sisters lived here until they were 102 and 104! i have an aversion to freezing. i only freeze things like bread and bacon. i can always detect a taste when something has been frozen. i am weird that way!

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  4. VERY good point about how people used to die at home more than they do now. And give birth in their homes. I think it has to do with almost all of the things you pointed out, but above all I'm a firm believer in an attachment. (Meaning you had to have a tie and a deep feeling --either good or bad-- for the place and the people in it that you spent your time there with.) I'm really curious to see more studies done specifically to see about how geology and materials factor in. It seems like they can enhance a haunting certainly, but I don't think they'd stop a haunting. Might make one that wasn't intended, or maybe if they were lacking one that should be stronger wouldn't be, but overall I think if you don't have the emotional investment to begin with, you got nothing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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  5. Courtney;
    I totally agree! My father promised to meet my mother at ASpen Grove and was seen there after his death in his burial suit. My mother as she was dying swore she'd be there--no doubt she would if she could because that woman was inseparable from the estate. My brother told me before he died that he was visiting it as he went in and out of consciousness and promised he'd haunt it. My sister, before she died, also swore she'd be there and she loved the place as much as the rest of us. Our good family friend also planned to visit and he died a few years ago. That's why I so want a producer willing to do a study there with a team I put together. If we can't find ghosts there, they don't exist. And, my sister and brother and family friend knew I was actively ghost hunting, so it would be just too weird. I would hang up my tools if I didn't find any haunting there between the Civil War soldiers and my family all recognizing me. Talk about coming home again!

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  6. I agree that you did a great job with covering why older homes would be more haunted. I have alot of stories, however, of houses built recently that are haunted. My sister spent the night with a friend in their new house and it was very haunted. The haunting on Larabee street was a new house. Do you think that the older houses might get more press and that maybe there are more new haunted houses than we think?

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  7. Hey Jessica;
    I wrote about that not too long ago:
    http://autumnforestghosthunter.blogspot.com/2010/02/newly-constructed-homes-can-they-be.html

    Yeah, newly constructed homes can and so often have haunting features. Sometimes, the question is where it's built, what it's built atop of, and who resides in it. These can be different in that there's less likely to be any residual and more likely to be poltergeist activity and the occasional glimpsing of the other side. The greater majority of houses with active hauntings are older, but that's not necessarily a prerequisite. I've studied plenty of newer frame homes here in AZ and find that their location more often than not is critical to their haunting.

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  8. Very comprehensive post! I think that there will be a residual feeling (in years to come) of sorrow & disappointment felt in the areas of today's suburbia. These feelings being the fall-out of today's economy.
    The homes may hold some of the feelings but the land where the homes are will hold the majority. And because the feelings of sorrow & disappointment are so strong & have/are being felt by so many that those emotions can't help but be absorbed by the surrounding environment.

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  9. Jeanne;
    Yes. I think a great deal about how much is retained will depend on things like waterways and geology too.

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