“The Madwoman In The Tower”

That’s what Melissa S., a poet, said she felt like when she lived in the Playroom at Ragdale, because that room contains a steep narrow staircase that leads to the Barnhouse cupola.  Now I can also claim the title, though really, for me, this place brings back the burning desire I had, when I was about nine or ten years old, to live in a lighthouse.

The first floor of the tower is part of the huge old main house.  I have a little private second floor apartment with a tiny galley kitchen, a nice bathroom, a bedroom (you can see its two windows in the photo), another room with a table and desk, and the rest of the tower, which can only be entered from the apartment.  The second floor of the tower is a nice room for reading, with a comfortable rocking chair and a long padded window seat (where there is no window) that looks like it’ll be dangerous for naps.  Smack in the middle is a spiral staircase to the third floor, which is really just an empty landing, but might be great for drying paper.  The spiral staircase changes to a regular staircase, and then the fourth floor is an octagonal studio space, with windows all round, four tables (three built in; they’re hinged onto the walls, so fold away, say if a madwoman wanted to start doing yoga again up there). It’s quite nice and very odd, so you know I like it.  I’ve also got the use of what’s called the gardener’s shed for papermaking, and a corner of the garage shop, with sink, for dyeing fiber.

This is a big old estate, and no one knows why the tower was built onto the house.  The apartment I’m in was once a maid’s quarters, and didn’t connect to the tower; nor were there any staircases in the tower. It was just there.

I’ll write more about the rest of the place later, and there’s a lot more to tell.  Right now I’m beat.  It was a hellatious trip getting here; Pennsylvania is endlessly huge, I got lost twice (thankfully only briefly), and an insane and possibly suicidal truck driver chose me, from all the other drivers in the world, to race with while he was hauling an oversized load of two small barns and a gazebo.