I grew up in the affluent New England town of Ridgefield, CT. My parents moved there in the mid 1950’s when land there was cheap, and they built a house. This was shortly after they got married and didn’t have kids yet. The land they built on was once part of a 300 acre estate called Downesbury Manor. It was built by a Civil War hero. It was later the home of a hat manufacturing magnate who invented the Lincoln stove-pipe hat. He entertained friends such as Mark Twain there on a regular basis. Pierre Cartier, the jeweler also owned the estate for a while.
After the residential uses of the home were over, new owners tried other things, like the group of doctors who wanted to use it as a sanitorium. Or the priests who used it as a Novitiate. Then there was the rather off the wall idea of a dude ranch. In Connecticut. Nothing seemed to take. The home was demolished in the late 1950’s. There are plenty of other estates in town of equal size and magnificence which did not get torn down, so the fact that they razed this place was always a mystery to me.
Now, I wasn’t born until 1967 but there’s a part of me that feels like I’ve been IN this mansion. I’ve only seen a handful of photos but I can picture everything in it like it was my own. By the time I was old enough to go exploring the woods behind our home the mansion had been gone for years.
But there were remnants.
There was a marble staircase. There were chimneys. Pretty sure there was a filled in swimming pool. The foundation of the old well house was right behind our home and I built forts there many times. There was also the remains of the huge stable and the bridle paths were still clear and well-hiked by other neighbors as well. In fact, there was a workshop on our property that my grandfather utilized which appeared to be much older than the house I grew up in and was likely part of the original estate.
I spent so much time wandering those woods, looking for those remnants. Every one of them a treasure in my memories. The place literally haunted me.
I haven’t lived in that home in Ridgefield since the late 1980’s and still I can’t forget about it.
When I penned my novel, Remnants, it was the Downesbury Manor and the property it sat upon that sparked my imagination. And although Remnants has been in print for months now I don’t think I’m done with that property. There are more tales roaming in my mind. There are still more hauntings.
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