The afternoon started off with a suggestion from my husband that we go check out the Castle House, which is as one would image, a house that undeniably is visually similar to the structure of a castle. Why someone would want such an abode is a curious mystery, and since we had passed by it a number of times before, he thought it was about time we had a proper visit. Now I want to mention here that while we are Weird NJ enthusiasts and often seek out the locations discussed in the magazine, we also do it in a respectful way so that other people can also enjoy the random strange, odd and unusual things that are scattered across the state. When exploring abandoned properties, we generally adhere to the ‘No Trespassing’ warning that are blatantly posted, since we are wise to the fact that people around here have guns and aren’t afraid to use them if need be. Then again, I have never had such an encounter but I have heard plenty of stories and can only say that if you ignore what is right in front of your face, well, you might deserve having to deal with whomever put them there.
While its exterior walls are smooth, flat and somewhat grey, there are a few features of the Castle House that distinguish it as a unique property, particularly when looking at the modesty of the homes surrounding it. The most prominent are the alternating high and low segments along the top of the structure, which are also known as a merlon and crenel in castle architecture terms, and the narrow windows that resemble arrow slits. Yes, there are even bridges that connect to both doors that serve as entrance and exit points, though I have no idea which one is supposed to be the front or back. Since this is an occupied space – and one which seems well taken care of – I stood on the street to take the photos posted below. Showing respect for property, whether it is lived on or not, is something I wish more people would consider before embarking on explorations. Not everyone wants a bunch of lookie-loos hanging out on their long snapping pictures and pressing their faces against windows, which is something I am sure those who act in this manner would find rather invasive if it happened to them.
Sine we were already in the area, we headed down the road for about five minutes to check out this abandoned house that had been mostly burned down. There was yellow tape strung across trees in the front of it, so again, my photographing was restricted to a specific distance and I had to do the best I could. While unsure of what had caused the fire, there was plenty of evidence on the surrounding trees and the shed that had also been damaged which suggested it was mighty powerful. Ordinarily I would not be so intrigued by something destroyed by fire, but I didn’t get any of those smells associated with it either. If it had not been for the neighbor across the road mowing his lawn, I might have tried to get a little bit closer, as I am sure the charred remains of the wood offer some interesting details. Being on your best behavior is a challenge sometimes, but I do want to be able to revisit certain sites and do what I have to so I that can.
While the sky had been fairly overcast when we left the house, we noticed that it was starting to clear up and my husband asked if there was anything else I wanted to take pictures of. Unable to think of anything in the area, he suggested a butcher shop we’ve passed before that has a giant bull statue out front, but he got confused as to which direction it was in and we ended up in Millville instead. By then the sky was far more blue, so we parked on High Street which is part of the Glasstown Arts District, where there are plenty of galleries that host works from local artists, and a variety of shops and restaurants for just about every taste. It is also home to the Levoy Theater which may not be as extravagant as the Broadway Theatre in Pitman, but this one has quite an extensive history and has been through many renovations to create the structure that is seen today. We happened to come across a store that was filled with nothing but antique radios – something my husband is fond of and sort of collects – but they were closed and had very limited hours, though we will go back since the prices were very affordable.
After stopping in the book store that sort of reminded us of the ones we used to frequent in Philly, we went wandered down to the Maurice River and entered the walk that follows alongside of it, admiring the park across the way and the view down river. Here we encountered several bums, one of whom smiled at us, and though they were not particularly troublesome, it was one of the first times we had seen any actual bums just hanging out in a park. Then again, the majority of the parks we have visited this year are either state forests or in areas that aren’t heavily populated, where as this one is in a town where there the neighborhoods show signs of lower income residents despite the impressive Victorian architecture that dominates them. Here there was a shopping cart sitting in the muddied bank of the river, random words scrawled into the painted metal posts of a gazebo, and busted out bulbs in the lamps that lined the walk. On the bright side, we came across a large stone structure that was oddly placed and wondered what it had been used for – I thought it might be an old train trestle.
Another afternoon well spent wandering through a South Jersey town, taking pictures and getting to know a little bit more history about my home state.