No Escape from... BLOODY HELL HOUSE

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. 13013
https://activerain.com/droplet/5fGc

On a secluded hill in a spring green meadow sits a house built at the turn of the century.  It was to be the final home of a woman very much loved.  But the near complete destruction of this house was due to avarice, adultery, and insanity. It is truly haunted due to murderous vengeance. Seven occupants of the house perished.  How did such abject horror come to pass?  And why is this story kept hushed to this day?

 A long time ago in the bustling streets of a great northern town, a man with great ambition started his own business.  He had no scruples as he stole some of his esteemed employer’s clients and worked secretly until he was found out.  And then he was ignominiously fired.

Our subject of this sordid tale is a man of smaller build with big ideas -- but had a chip on his shoulder.  He imagined himself to be great at his profession.  He was a braggart.  While congenial with his clients he was strict with his wife and children.  It was the end of the Victorian era and although born from a family with deep religious roots, he developed his own personal philosophy that was very self-centered and based on natural processes.

 

He married and built a small gabled house on the horse-drawn bustling streets in the suburbs.  He and his wife Catherine had 7 children, all very well kept.  He built an office adjacent to his house.  He loved his work and spent long hours advancing his career – often to the detriment of his family. His business required trips out of town and while on one of his ‘working’ engagements he fell in love with Martha, the wife of a very good client.  She was a beautiful woman and very intelligent.  She had an understanding of history and art and was actually a translator of books. 

 

The man was obsessed with this woman.  Although deemed immoral, they both fled the country nonetheless and traveled through Europe for months.  His business suffered, but it didn't matter to him.  He found his perfect partner finally. Catherine, his wife, would not grant a divorce and the tales of this unholy relationship spread through the community.  She and her children were estranged and left alone in the suburban cottage.

A huge scandal was reported over the 'soul mates' in the press and reporters chased them everywhere they could be found. 

 

The man hid his love interest away in the country house when they returned from their European soiree.  Martha was sheltered and adored in the house on the hill overlooking that green meadow.  A brook flowed gracefully nearby.  The house became known as the ‘love castle’.  As time went on, Martha and her children became friends with the assistants, gardeners, and servants.  Everyone came to know each other very well and there was a communal attitude there.  Life was a secret pleasure for the two lovers.

 

They would all eat dinner together, entertain in the music room, read stories and act out plays, etc.  In those days there were several servants and workers at hand and while there was some formality between the house owner and service people one of the servants was repeatedly chided and humiliated.  Julian Carlton had been a recent hire from Barbados.  It was said that he was not right in the head, even that he practiced voodoo…But the derogatory treatment by the staff and Martha annoyed and angered the servant so much that he imagined a plot to get even with his employer.

 

 

While out of his office on August 15, 1914 a telegram was received concerning a ghastly event at the distant location.  The man and the husband of the woman he loved both traveled by train together in deep bereavement to the estate, in shock, to witness after a short buggy ride a smoldering fire and the evidence of multiple deaths following a horrific event.

 

The vexed servant had planned a deadly revenge for the constant belittlement and nasty remarks.  He had prepared a dinner for Martha, her children and the staff people there.  While they were at supper he served the dessert at the end and quickly poured gasoline around the dining room. 

He then took an ax and charged into the dining room quickly aiming for Martha first, bludgeoning and splitting her head and then proceeded to hack at everyone else at the table.  After mortally injuring them all, he fled locking the dining room door behind him and lighting the gasoline which enveloped the room after which the living and dining quarters of the house burnt to the ground.  The man’s lover, children and staff had been brutally murdered and those who barely survived the ax were burnt to death.

 

It was only several days later, after the heat from the fire had subsided, that the police finally found the servant hiding in the boiler in the basement.  When found out he quickly swallowed muriatic acid and suffered an agonizing death that lasted for days.  The maddening crowd wished to lynch him then and there for his evil and bloody retribution.

 

+++++++++++++++++

The man first introduced in this story was architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  The woman he loved was Mary Cheney or Martha "Mamah" Borthwick.  Martha had met Wright’s wife Catherine at a social club in Chicago. She referred her husband to Mrs. Cheney’s to design a house for them.  The house that Wright cloaked around Martha Borthwick is called Taliesin.  The house was named after a Welsh poet from the 6th century and later was portrayed as a wizard or prophet.  The word means ‘shining brow’.  It was FLWs experimental project, continually being modified based on his latest thinking. Taliesin is built in Spring Green, Wisconsin and was rebuilt after the fire. You can visit this house to this day but you won’t hear this story told by the docents… (photo at bottom)

 +++++++++++++++++

The tortured photoshopped image above is actually the Ennis House built in 1924 by FLW in Los Angeles.  It was the setting of Vincent Price’s black and white horror film of 1959, “House on Haunted Hill”.  You can see an image of this house at the beginning of the film.  But the interior, quite modern, was not used for the story. A more gothic interior was created by the set designer.  A plastic skeleton was flown through the seating area of theaters at choice moments.  Alfred Hitchcock admired the low budget success of this movie and made another for himself a year later entitled… Psycho.

Ennis House Photo: Endre Barath Jr.

Above: Taliesien, the house in which the murders actually occurred

Below and top pastoral image: additional photos from Janie-Rice Brother, Architectural Historian, with her blog about historic buildings and gardens here.  

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Dale Taylor 10/20/2018 06:11 PM
Topic:
Just for Fun
Tags:
love triangle with deadly end
architects love interest murdered
historical horror story
turn of century gothic horror

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Rainmaker
3,304,571
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

John, what an awesome story I had to read it at least three times, did not want to miss any of the details, thank you for the honorable mentions was not necessary, Endre

Oct 12, 2018 11:49 PM #9
Rainmaker
227,305
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Endre, I was a sucker in high school for Hammer Films, particularly Christopher Lee's Dracula series.  Gothic Horror would mesmerize me.  One day I saw the Price movie and watched amazingly at the opening shots of this strange looking house -- which was the Ennis House I found out, and of course this house was in countless other movies.  I never have visited it and I do appreciate your letting me butcher the photo you took.  Here it is folks, as Endre captured it one bright LA morning.

Oct 13, 2018 04:49 AM #10
Ambassador
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

                

                           Thank you, John. 

Oct 13, 2018 07:07 PM #11
Rainmaker
4,798,170
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Thanks, John.  I knew a little about this tale, but now I know the whole story.

Oct 14, 2018 06:07 AM #12
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Good golly, I had no idea about this horrific tale. And, I had no idea Frank Lloyd Wright had an affinity for the ladies. One never knows, especially from the usual sources. Thank you sharing this amazing story. I'll never forget it. 

Oct 14, 2018 08:28 AM #13
Rainmaker
227,305
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Velcome, velcome to my vorld!!  Yes D&B, when you find out years later that your hero was somewhat of a cad you have to wonder about the whole picture.  We were fed in school only his amazing architecture, which DID have some quirks.  For example, he was not a tall guy, so one of the typical remarks when visiting his houses is how low some of the ceilings seem to be.  He would squeeze you through a tight foyer and 'expand' the space in the next room a few feet and you would feel relieved.  

Another crazy tale was that he would go into a clothing store, pick out several suits and slacks, and simply walk out without paying.  The clerk would run out the store and bashfully ask for him to pay the bill but he would shout back: "Don't you know who I am??!!"

There are quite of few of us with this insane attitude and although he burned many bridges, this kind of 'branding' made him the incorrigible, insufferable genius that everyone wanted to interview.   The kudos for his architectural work is well deserved.  A few years ago the AIA polled the membership to ask who was the greatest American architect.  The winner was FLW.

He was always well dressed.  He had a custom painted Lincoln Continental matched to the red in his logo...

Oct 14, 2018 08:40 AM #14
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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Most artists John Henry were eccentric and I am not surprised . Thank you for the story I had never heard anything about his personal life before . This is why I love AR always learn something new So glad Kathy Streib gave this a Feature

Oct 14, 2018 01:07 PM #15
Rainmaker
227,305
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hello Hannah, thank you for your comments.  Yes, many well-known artists from history had some eccentricities: Dali, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso.  There is a bit of philandering here and there as well.  FLW was annoying to many people.  He hated the Modernists and then outdid them with Falling Water.  He railed against classicism although several of his earlier houses include many accoutrements that are descriptive.  He thought he was the greatest living architect, and possibly of all time if you read his autobiography.  Nothing could sway him from his writings and beliefs.

Five miles away down the road is an 'attraction' called House On The Rock.  The owner was the wealthiest businessperson around.  He owned the newspaper.  This man went unannounced to see Wright with a sketch he had made of a Victorian-style mansion that was a sort of half-way house for the displaced.  Wright took a quick glance and stood at the window with his back towards Alex Jordan.  He muttered: "I wouldn't have that thing for a pig sty" (something of that effect).  Jordan stormed out and vowed to outdo Wright.  

When we left Taliesin late in the afternoon, we stumbled upon Jordan's house. It had an amazing lookout built of girder steel, far more daring than what anything Wright had done.  Over time it was added on with collections of models, mannequins, airplanes, vintage cars, slot machines, etc.

It now makes probably ten times more income than Wright's foundation.  Tour buses come with droves of thrill seekers from the region.  Most do not go to Wright's compound just down the road.

Oct 14, 2018 01:49 PM #16
Rainmaker
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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I'm sending your story to my sons - they both love haunted houses!

Oct 14, 2018 02:39 PM #17
Rainmaker
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John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hi Marte, I love them in the movies.  I wonder about a REAL haunted house...

Oct 14, 2018 02:41 PM #18
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Wow, John, that is quite a story and perfect for this time of year!

Jeff

Oct 14, 2018 09:41 PM #19
Rainmaker
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James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning John.

Loved it just loved it. Not that someone was killed but the way you presented the story.  Can't wait to read more of them

Oct 15, 2018 01:22 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,528,929
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Wow, I loved reading this story. I wasn't sure who it was about until the end. The moral of the story could be that we have to make sure staff is treated well!

Oct 15, 2018 03:43 AM #21
Rainmaker
477,598
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Great story! I have never heard anything about it before. As great an architect as Frank Loyd Wright wa I have never cared for his designs!

Oct 15, 2018 05:00 AM #22
Rainmaker
227,305
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Tom, I went to see Taliesin West on my required architectural pilgrimage about 30 years ago.  I noticed two subdivisions nearby.  One had a single FLW inspired home for sale with all the other lots empty.  It was a ghost town.  Across the street a thriving subdivision was being built, all 'California Mediterranean Contemporary'.  A Realtor in Scottsdale told me this story:  A developer, inspired by Wright, received permission from the Wright Foundation to build an entire subdivision of Wright homes, possibly using Wright's original designs.  One house was built and for the price, livability and style, no one wanted it.  The subdivision on the other side of the street was sold out.

Oct 15, 2018 05:16 AM #23
Rainmaker
3,304,571
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

John this post keeps on giving.... the comments are truly fun, hope to read many more comments, on a side note that photo was taken two homes from the Ennis House from my client's balcony:) There are about two other FLW homes in LA should take a few new pictures for you. BTW do you know who owns this one and for how much he is selling it for?? if not I can share:))Endre

Oct 15, 2018 10:45 PM #24
Rainmaker
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Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

When I am out and about, when people ask me about real estate, I tell them about my ghost encounters. This story, is one of the best I ever read. Wow 😮. I plan to re-post and share my encounters with ghosts.

Oct 19, 2018 07:39 AM #25
Rainmaker
234,765
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

John, I am about to repost your story with some of my own ghostly experiences.  Before I do I wanted you to know I have tour FLW's Museum Homes in Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago on the University of Chicago campus area, Oak Park, Illinois, and in Kankakee, Illinois, all within the areas I serve.  In Oak Park there is a whole block of homes designed by him near where he constructed his personal home and office.  If I won that big lotto money, it would be fun to re-create a more modern version his Hyde Park or Kankakee homes.  It is on my bucket list to tour the home your cool story is about.  Thanks  

Oct 20, 2018 02:20 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,000,158
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Amazing tale!  I would have never thought it was a FLW home, that is until I saw the pictures.  You are such a great tall tale teller, LOL!  Loved it.  

And thank you for sharing the photos of Talliesin.  Hadn't seen them :)

I won't create copyright fraud - so here's a link for anyone to see our Arizona Taliesin West!  https://franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/

Oct 21, 2018 02:36 PM #27
Rainmaker
615,617
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

John-Being a fan of FLLW, I recognized the elements you described, but never had heard them retold in such a gory manner. Did October hit you hard?

Oct 24, 2018 08:59 PM #28
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