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The old cottage style coach house has always remained elusive. Its subtle presence and indefinable purpose makes it a perfect place for anything and nothing in particular. No one knows exactly when it was built; it sometimes feels it has just been here forever.
Presumably the building was erected to keep a horse and buggy at the turn of the century; although, there is no record of Homer Watson owning a horse. Phoebe, Homer’s sister, wrote in a letter dated from 1920’s of a cow in the shed, but no-one really knows which shed she is referring to. Hand painted china fragments have been found around the building. Perhaps Phoebe used it as a studio, but no-one really knows. It has been said that Doon School instructors used the building in the 50’s and 60’s as a meeting place to critique artwork, but no photos exists of them actually doing this. People seem to remember the Cayleys, who owned the property in the 70’s, using the house to store and sell paintings. A Menu was found for the Coach House Cafe from the 80’s, but few people actually remember ever eating there. One thing for certain is that artists have continuously used the site, and everyone remembers the coach house with fond memories.
Local perennials and flowering herbs still grow freely around the stone porch and patio. An ancient apple tree projects elusive shadows across the stone work. The crooked fruit tree casually drops apples for the deer that frequently stroll up from Watson Park forest, formally Cressmen’s Wood. A grape vine clings idly to the window sill, and hand-made yellow bricks form an irregular pattern around the door. There are several inconsistently sized windows haphazardly situated around the building and evidence of bricked-up doorways. On the south wall remains a three quarter height, slightly off center screened-in door that photographers enjoy capturing on film. Inside, the fire place warms the autumn air, and pottery sits drying before it goes into the kiln.
Jake, who works maintaining the grounds and doing odd jobs, clears the dried clay and left over glazes from the table. He moves the potter’s wheels to the edge of the cement walls. On the table he sets the old screen door and prepares to plane it. The door needs to be adjusted to close properly. Lately it has been banging against its frame and leaving the artists a little “spooked”.
There is a half-story dormer room in the attic that has been closed off for many years. Some of the artists claim they hear someone “banging around up there”. Jake chuckles to himself, “artists and their imaginations.” He continues to work humming to himself.
As he works, he hears someone playing a harmonica to the tune he is humming. He puts down the tool and peers out the small front door. With no-one in sight, Jake moves back and continues to work; eventually he begins to hum his tune. Again the harmonica sounds join-in. Jake ducks through the front door and moves across the patio. He looks past the apple tree toward the forest and then around to the path leading to the old church. Everything remains silent except for the rustle of the fall leaves. “Hmm,” Jake wonders and ducks back through the door. There, inside the cottage, stands an older gentleman with a grey beard. His suspenders are holding loose fitting pants that have a little paint splattered near the pocket. His harmonica is in his hand. “You startled me. I didn’t see you come in,” offers Jake. “I’m so sorry about that: just out for a walk on a fine day. You know, I have to keep roaming around, or I’ll just fade away,” comments the stranger. “Sure be my guest,” smiles Jake. Jake continues to work and hums his song. The gentleman once again joins in. Jake casually glances toward the old man, but he has disappeared. Strangely, Jake still hears the harmonica’s tune echoing through the coach house.
There are many reports of people roaming through the gardens and approaching guests and visitors. Some people have claimed that they have helped spirits that seem to have lost their way. Some of the potters that work in the coach house studio have “built a rapport” with the spirits that frequent the grounds. All have reported the spirits as easy going and talkative.