Monday, October 26, 2009

Points of Interest

Shiloh Chapel, Durham ME

Rumour has it that Stephen King based the Marsten House in 'Salem's Lot on Shiloh Chapel. Being a King fan, I've long been interested in the places that pop up in his books (even moreso now that I live in Maine). Recently I decided I wanted a closer look at what inspired one of my all-time favorite reads.

Built in 1897, the chapel has a long and controversial history as home to a religious sect/cult known as The Kingdom. Murder, abuse, neglect...it all happened in The Kingdom. There was once a massive complex around the chapel which included schools and a hospital. Hundreds of people once called Shiloh home. The only original building still standing (as far as I know) is the chapel. It sits on a hill, at the end of a long driveway, and the view from the top is incredible. Miles of rolling hills, as far as the eye can see.

As soon as I took this picture, Brian and I were approached by an elderly couple who had been laying flowers in the cemetery at the base of the hill. They asked us if we wanted to go inside. My head exploded and then I remembered my manners and said yes, please. YES.

It turned out that our guides, the Parkers (married for 66 years), have been parishioners of the church for over 70 years. Amazing. They took us inside and led us around, pointing out the lamps that were once fired by oil and the chairs that were at least 80 years old. The church is still active today, although they have broken with the more controversial elements. In what was the capper of such a random encounter, Mr. Parker told us that his father "pounded some nails in" when the chapel was first built and his nephew is the current pastor. Out of respect, I kept my camera in my pocket, but I wish I could share what we saw inside; the place reeks of history.

Every so often during our time inside, scenes from 'Salem's Lot popped into my head. Susan hiding in the woods next to the Marsten House, young Ben creeping up the stairs to steal a relic on a dare, Barlow's voice coming up from the basement... Was I scared at all? Did I get a sense of anything strange or eerie around me? No, I can't say I did. However, it was early afternoon on a bright sunny day and I wasn't alone. Put me there in the middle of a rainy night and I would probably tell you something different.

As we took our leave, the Parkers extended another invitation, this time to Sunday morning services. "At 10 am, and the pastor is a quiet talker...not one a'them loud ones." You know, it was tempting. I've spent a lot of time tonight since then researching the history of Shiloh Chapel and The Kingdom; I'm fascinated by the story and sense I'll be getting my hands on anything and everything to do with Shiloh that I can.

What an unexpected- and amazing- adventure. All I wanted was to take a picture, which I got, and I walked away with a head full of stories and a drive to take what I saw and turn it into my own tale of terror. Not for Nanowrimo as I've got another scary story bubbling away in my cauldron, but soon. Inspiration is everywhere, but to find it in some of the same places as one of my favorite authors is pretty damn cool. This is the first time I've had an idea hit me so squarely on the head. I can't wait to explore more.

2 comments:

Samantha said...

I'm so jealous you got a chance to visit this place. I can see where it would just make your mind burst with ideas.

Katie said...

I'm reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and he mentions this house. How exciting that you got to tour it! I bet that place is great for potential ideas!