Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tunnel Rumors

The night before we closed on this house, I dreamed about a tunnel. I dreamed I was in the little building behind the house and was moving a stack of doors someone had left behind. (There are several doors in the little building behind the house that someone left behind. They appear to be doors that once shut off the kitchen, the crooked hallway, the dining room, and various other rooms.)

Anyway, I dreamed that I found an opening in the floor, underneath those doors, that led to the house. There were nubs of candles and old match books and newspapers and glass littering the tunnel floor. It felt damp and endlessly dark. I awoke from the dream with a start, and recounted the dream in detail the next morning. He mmmm-hhhmm'd, as usual, half listening.

I'd all but forgotten about the dream later that day. We were sitting around a multi-legged conference table with 7 bankers, realtors and various people in ironed shirts and ties... people who kept checking their iPhones and talking about MLS listings and mortgage insurance. Suddenly, from the far end of the table, I picked up on discussion about items left in the attic. Ah. Yes, the attic. 

Typical old house attic, our realtor said. No telling what you might find.

I nodded politely.

And then of course there's the tunnels, he added, offhandedly. 

 I bashed my knee into one of those blasted table legs, I turned so quickly.

Here's the story: as I mentioned yesterday, the house was built minutes from downtown. During Prohibition, the realtor explained, bootleggers began using- and extending- the existing tunnels running underneath the theatre, the hotel, and surrounding establishments. They extended them, rumor has it, to many of the houses up and down these historic streets. Why? Because what better way to clear out of a place... or run liquor downtown... is there? Buy a house several blocks up, put in a tunnel that links to the main tunnel's arteries, and run your illicit goods without fear of meddling townsfolk or law men.

Those guys bought houses up and down your street, the realtor added. Or they had friends who did. Could have been yours.


He asked us to call if we found a tunnel. And so far, we haven't. What we have found, however, are several cut-outs in the floor that hold old furnace grates. Or used to. Although the hole above made me wonder: could one of those grates conceal an entrance to a tunnel? Or what about the floor boards in the closets? 

Call me Nancy Drew, but I'm curious now. In fact, I'm beyond curious. I have half a mind to get my pry bar and hammer and start trying to lift these grates and test out floors.

If we find a tunnel, you'll be the first to know. -Brin


Anonymous said...

I live in a Pennsylvania farmhouse built in 1840. My husbands grandfather used to tell the story that it was used as a stop on the underground railroad. We purchased the house 6 years ago no evidence of any tunnel was found in the house. Perhaps the barn that once was part of the property.........wonder if my neighbor would mind if I started poking around?

Sherry said...

very interesting, sherlock. ;)
curiouser and curiouser.

Adrienne said...

Interesting possibility.

MrsReaux said...

I hope you find a tunnel!!

Unknown said...

You always find the coolest houses with history to boot!

Gail said...

You realize you're telling another great mystery book you should be writing?

Terri Steffes said...

I hope you find a tunnel. Cool beans.