Before I do my photo of the day, I just thought I’d share this with you. I’ve always been one for old buildings and mansions, and this is no different. It’s a shame to see a building that has so much mystery and unique architecture go to waste, as well as all the history that goes with it. Also, this article was just the thing I was looking for today, to be honest. A kind of neutral post, if you would call it that. No politics, and no violent bloodshed. Just a house.
Gone With the Whimsy
A view of the house built by Francis Lee Smith, an engineer, in Wapiti Valley, Wyo. More Photos »
By SARAH MASLIN NIR
Published: February 1, 2012
WAPITI VALLEY, Wyo.
EVERYONE here seems to know the story of the house on the hill. The rambling log structure, with its undulating staircases, umpteen balconies and fun-house warren of half-finished rooms, has for nearly 30 years loomed over the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway, inspiring stories. Lots of stories.
A sampling: At a nearby shop that sells elk-antler chandeliers, the clerk said that the house appeared to a man in a vision and that he built it as a monument to the town. At a filling station, a motorist who had stopped for soft-serve ice cream said that the house was meant to be a lookout tower if an underground volcano in Yellowstone National Park ever erupted. And the teenagers who break into the abandoned structure on Saturday nights point to its writhing balustrades of warped pine and insist it was built by a madman.
“None of them are fact,” Sunny Larsen, 32, said of the tales. Ms. Larsen should know. Her father, Francis Lee Smith, is the one who built the house, and she and her brother, Buckles (or Bucky), spent part of their childhood there.
Still, it’s hard to pin down the truth about why Mr. Smith, an engineer, labored single-handedly for more than a dozen years on a house that calls to mind grand follies like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif., built by the rifle company heiress Sarah L. Winchester.
“His original intent was to build a home for his family, and it just took on a life of its own,” said Ms. Larsen, who now lives in Billings, Mont., and is the steward of the house.
But in 1992, when Ms. Larsen was 12, her father fell to his death from a balcony at the age of 48. It was the last of several falls he took while working on the pagoda-like roofs — untethered, as was his habit, despite the wild Wyoming winds.
And since then, the sun-filled whimsical home of Ms. Larsen’s childhood has acquired a sinister air, she said. The dining table, a giant tree stump surrounded by smaller stumps, evokes a fairy banquet hall, but it is no longer warmed by her father’s country cooking. And after her brother drowned in 2005 in a nearby river, the room that was a miniature indoor basketball court has been too quiet.
Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? What’s that? You want to finish reading? Well then, by all means, do go here, and check out the rest. I have to say the tragedy of losing the father and brother was quite touching, and it pulled at my ‘heart strings’, so to speak, when I found that Sunny is looking to raise money to keep the place alive. It’d be a great place, I believe, for a historical site and tourist attraction. I mean, who’s seen a house quite like it? Not me, man! Anywho, I’ll be posting the photo of the day soon after this, so I’m not going to be going into depth about my day just yet.