The House of Blue Lights: Part II

By Rick Hinton

In the early 1970s, myself and a few friends parked at the end of the driveway at 6700 Fall Creek Road that led up into a wooded hill. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of traffic and you could get away with parking on the narrow shoulder. We made our way up through the darkness, feeling the driveway under our feet and nervously chatted about what we might find. We’d heard the stories: a house of glass block and white tile; a large swimming pool containing underwater lights; and a glass coffin where Skiles Test’s wife lay for all to see next to a picture window. Never mind that Skiles had died in the mid-1960s and everything sold in an estate auction. That didn’t register in our young minds. We expected to see “something.” We approached the dark outline of the house – there were no blue lights – and suddenly heard dogs barking. It was enough! We turned, making our way quickly back down to the car. The evening was over!

After 20 years of marriage Skiles and wife Josephine divorced. Springing forward a few years brought about a short marriage to a socialite, Elsa Pantzer, soon followed by a union with Ellen Louise Saxen, producing a daughter, Louellen. It was a strange marriage. Ellen and their child lived apart from Skiles in California. It’s claimed that Louellen was 12 years old before she even saw her father’s house. Seemingly this distant marriage, for whatever reason, was a comfortable arrangement for both parties. Life moved forward into the mid-1950s when stories about the house at the top of the hill on Fall Creek began. Lore dictates it could have been even earlier.

Skiles and first wife, Josephine, outside the caretaker’s home that, renovations later, would become their own. Notice the string of lights above the doorway; were they blue? (Photo by Gary Ledbetter)

Myth states that Skiles’ wife died under mysterious circumstances, possibly involving the pool, with her body never leaving, instead being placed in a glass coffin in the living room by large windows overlooking the grounds. Dressed in a blue formal gown, she was surrounded by blue lights about her coffin and the living room. One should have scratched their heads and asked, “Which wife exactly?” Rumor is that it was his first wife, Josephine. Well… OK. This question, however, was not asked and the blue lights gradually expanded about the property, encompassing floodlights, trees and the pool, making the hilltop home glow eerily in the night and seen from the road. Blue, it’s said, was Stiles and his deceased wife’s favorite color. Then came the stories…

A constant deluge of folks, through the years, journeyed up the drive and to the house. Urban myths were embellished, expanding upon original stories: Skiles sitting beside the coffin, talking with her, eating dinner and dancing about with a glass of wine in hand and jazz music playing; folks approaching the house hearing music and encountering hell-hounds, barking with red eyes; an old man with a gun  sending trespassers back down the driveway rather quickly; and small graves stumbled upon. (This part of the legend is more fact than fiction.)

Skiles Test entertained this intrusion for a while but ultimately, it became too late for any sense of sanity for himself and the house he called home. An urban legend had developed some deep roots by this point and reality had been long lost…