I've always assumed that the Rat-Squirrel House—aka 149 Kane Street in Cobble Hill (seen today, above, and in olden times, below), Brooklyn, a structure whose creepy and bizarre decline and resurrection I've chronicled for five years—was once a normal, upstanding structure, occupied by normal, upstanding citizens—not the reclusive, Collyer-Brothers-like lady who let the landmarked building fall to wrack and ruin during the '90s and early 2000s.
I was wrong.
A few weeks ago, I received this message from a reader. It's the first time I've ever been contacted by anyone with intimate, direct known of 149 Kane Street. Read and wonder:
The Rat-Squirrel house belonged to my grandparents, Edward and Molly Fitzsimmons. I was born in 1954 and my memory of the house begins when I was 2 or 3. I remember it as a dark somewhat scary place when I was young and as I grew into my teens it became simply creepy except that my grandparents, who I loved dearly, lived there. The basement was always dark and empty. I believe my grandfathers sisters lived there when my mom was a child. The first floor had an unused parlor and sitting room that had all the furniture in it covered with sheets. I recall it smelled like an old canvas tent. There was also the only toilet, in the entire house, in a small unheated room under the stairs. Grandpa called it the "water-closet." The house never had a tub or shower. The third floor had three rooms which were used as bedrooms for my mother and uncle. They were unused when I was a child but we played in them when we visited. The second floor contained the kitchen in the back of the house.Some houses have auras, have a certain predestined karma. The Rat-Squirrel house is one.