Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Haunted Histories: Stained Glass Agnes

The house on Beach Hill where Neil's studio is is a classic example of Victorian architecture.  It is also said to be haunted.  It was built in 1891 by General McLaughlin, and he lived there with his wife and step-daughter, Agnes.  The facts of the story are clear: two years after the death of his wife, the general shot Agnes while she slept and then took an arsenic pill and dispatched himself.  This tragedy is part of the story of the house.

It is, for this reason, emblematic of Santa Cruz, itself.  It is a sunny, well-lit, murder scene.  For some people, this would offer discouragement, but Neil Simmons is a musician in a band called Fire's Fury, and they play an aggressive blend of thrash-metal and punk.  They don't shy away from the darker palate of emotions. 

This side of Neil's character makes him a more dynamic artist.  It's a combination that you don't normally find outside of Santa Cruz: exquisite beauty and morbid curiosity.  Neil can control the light in the Golden Room to make you look glamorous, but he also has an edgy side to him, so you don't have to be afraid that he's going to judge you if you have tattoos or like to wear dark makeup.

Inside the main part of the house, there is a stained glass window.  This window is said to be worth a million dollars.  It is a portrait of the murdered step-daughter, Agnes, commissioned by the general when she was still alive.  This window, more than anything, gives the house the feeling that Edgar Allen Poe would be absolutely compelled by the place.  It is at once gorgeous and terrifying.