Things that go bump in my house

First Posted: 1/15/2009

I don’t know whether to call an exterminator, our real estate agent or the ghost-busters.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Nearly three years ago, Evelyn and I began looking for a home that would provide us with space and comfort. But we also wanted one with potential and character.
In a nutshell: Big and old.
After exhausting all of the homes being advertised through local real estate agencies, we simply began driving around, where we found a home being sold by the owner. It was easily large enough to accommodate the family gatherings and out-of-town visitors we anticipated, as well as the chance to offer temporary lodging for those children who might need it.
As a bonus the property came with an outbuilding nearly as big as the house. That gave us ideas about all kinds of storage options, along with a vision for a game and exercise area.
We snatched it up.
One of the first things we talked about was finding a way to make use of one or both of the fireplaces that had long ago been closed up. One is in the living room and the other is in the downstairs master bedroom.
That idea went up in smoke when we realized that the chimneys were being used as a hangout for a bunch of bats.
For a few weeks, we would gather out in the driveway at about dusk and watch as the bats made their nightly exodus. We even invited friends over to see the show. It was kind of interesting to watch at first, but then we decided to count the critters as they popped out from under the capped chimney.
Fifty-seven — and I’m sure we missed some.
At about the same time, Evelyn began hearing sounds in the house. Usually, it came from the kitchen ceiling area, and it sounded like scratching.
An inspection showed that squirrels had managed to gnaw their way past an attic window covering and then found enough space to get two levels down for a romp around the first-floor ceiling. The fact that they hovered over the kitchen was a testament to their olfactory talents.
The population was increasing rapidly.
Shortly after these discoveries, Evelyn also began thinking she heard noises throughout the house. If she were upstairs, she thought she heard someone walking around the first floor; if she were downstairs, she thought she heard a door shut upstairs. It made her uneasy — and it made me worry about her sanity.
OK, two hours of crawling into the attic and double-barracading the window opening with heavy-duty, small-holed chicken wire took care of the squirrel problem. I think.
A trip to the roof to tighten the wire covering and metal caps on the chimneys took care of the bat problem. I hope.
But the noises heard in the house have continued. In fact, they have become more pronounced. At least, that’s what I’m told.
Just the other day, Evelyn and our son Justin were sitting downstairs watching television when each heard a noise upstairs. They say it sounded like the twanging of one of those old, springy doorstops. Justin investigated, but nothing exceptional was found.
Built in 1912, this home easily fit our hope for an older home. And it seems that, instead of having character, it actually has a character — or characters — rattling around. If that’s the case, it’s a bit trickier than evicting a mess of bats or a few squirrels.
And maybe there’s an “Amityville Horror” type movie here. After all, quite a few folks have lived in this home — which has been a single-family residence, then an apartment and back to a single-family residence during its 96 years. And who knows if any of them has decided to linger.
Anyone have the number for Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray?

— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 739-4322, Ext. 148, or by e-mail at [email protected].

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