Gloom Lives

This picture, from months ago, is from when I first noticed the house at 224 Sea Cliff Ave. First impression: it looks haunted. The feverish sherbet orange, the broken wall, rusty prison fencing, boarded and empty windows… fascinating. You really have to see it from above. The walkway winding down the cliff looks like spilt entrails. I had never been this far down on Baker Beach, never seen a house in this neighborhood neglected like this. After, I looked for the house from the street side and found that it was for sale.

If you look up the address or the current owner, you’ll find a sordid history. It was once used as a storage facility for a multimillion dollar art heist. The owner is serving a prison sentence for things like wire fraud and tax evasion. According to Zillow, a sale was pending December 2019, then again May 2020, but neither sale was completed: what disclosures, what rot caused two buyers to back out? Sotheby’s was once the realtor, but they gave up. No interior photographs are available. The house itself is scheduled to be auctioned city hall on August 13, 2020.

I am strangely drawn to this house, which I’ve begun to call Gloom. My little obsessions have always been unreasonable, and this one is no exception. Sometimes I say hi to Gloom from the beach, if the high tide hasn’t blocked access. Sometimes I look towards Gloom in the fog and wonder what it looks like inside. Sometimes I think about the gloom and neglect, and it makes me sad. I must sound like a nut. Don’t worry, it’s just curiosity: no threat of trespass or harm.

As with any other hopeless crush, Gloom and I have a song. Here it is, please enjoy:

Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.

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