Lead image credit – Julia Ess, Source: Wikimedia Commons
UPDATE (10/28/19): Stephen King recently announced plans to turn his long-time house in Bangor into an archive/writer’s retreat. Soon enough, the property will house the writer’s archives, formerly held at the University of Maine; they will be accessible by appointment only. In fact, King is clear that the house won’t be opening to the public, but that the archives will be available to scholars and researchers.
What’s more, King plans to turn the house next door into a writer’s retreat, accommodating up to five writers at a time. The reason behind these changes is the fact that the Kings don’t spend as much time as they used to in their house at 47 West Broadway. The Bangor City Council gave them the green light to rezone their home as a non-profit earlier this month.
There’s no doubt that Stephen King put Bangor, Maine on the map. The small New England town is inextricably associated with the famous writer, and his red Victorian mansion is its beating heart.
People from all across the country, sometimes even from across the ocean, flock to this otherwise unassuming town, to get a glimpse into the author’s life and his home on West Broadway.
Although sightings of King outside his house are rare, his presence is definitely felt there. From the moment you drive into Bangor, you feel like you’ve been transported in one of King’s novels, and it’s easy to see why. It’s no secret that Maine was a source of inspiration for King, who was born and raised in Portland, and many of his novels are set in the Pine Tree State.
King wrote Salem’s Lot while living in the blood-red mansion at 47 West Broadway, while the fictional town of Derry, where the eponymous novel It takes place, was inspired by Bangor. So it’s no wonder that fans from all over the world are drawn to this secluded tiny town; they want to immerse themselves into that atmosphere that they found in the books, and see the places that inspired King to write some of his most beloved books.
If You’ve Read King’s Novels, You’ll Feel Right At Home in Bangor
Entering the mysterious town of Bangor, you’ll notice that pretty much all the houses here look kinda creepy, particularly those on West Broadway. The street that King lives on looks like the perfect setting for a haunted house movie or one of those Halloween-style slasher sagas.
With the exception of small groups of avid King fans, the streets are usually empty, and it sometimes feels like the whole area is abandoned, especially on a gloomy fall or winter day. Pulling up on West Broadway, rows of majestic, imposing manors greet you, as if leading you to the main attraction, the pulsating red heart of Bangor.
All the mansions on West Broadway, including King’s, are easily accessible and close to the main street, which is wide and protected by tall, lush trees. Yet there’s no mistaking which house is Stephen King’s; its bloody colour and wrought-iron fence give it away. Endless fans have taken pictures of themselves in front of the small black fence, which is decorated with spiders, a three-headed dragon, and other bat-winged creatures.
The author reportedly regrets putting up that creepy fence, since it’s become a popular tourist attraction over the years. However, once in a while he likes to entertain his near-trespassers; in 2017, just before the release of the new It movie, a red balloon popped up in one of the windows of the house. If you read or watched It, you’ll know why that’s creepy.
The Elusive History of the Blood-Red King Manor
The now-iconic manor on West Broadway was originally built in 1858, and has been owned by King and his wife Tabitha since 1980. The Kings and their three children moved to Bangor after living in Boulder, Colorado for a year, where King wrote The Shining. It was initially meant to be a second house for the family, but it eventually became their primary residence.
Stephen King explained to the Bangor Historical Society in 1983 what drove the family to move here: ‘West Broadway attracted us, with its graceful Victorian homes, its lovely trees, and its feeling of being a peaceful sort of inlet very close to the bustle of downtown.’ The author went on to say that the proximity to Fairmount school, a school that their children could walk to, was another big pull. It seems to have worked out just fine for them, and we’re betting that their beloved corgi Molly – also known as the Thing of Evil – is enjoying all that outdoor space.
The King manor lies on roughly 2 acres of land and was built in an Italianate Villa style. Hayford Park is right in the family’s backyard, while the property is surrounded by lush trees, offering plenty of privacy. The original structure was made out of wood and only had one tower; the left-side tower was reportedly added in 1895, while the large front porch was added in 1912. The property nowadays also incorporates an attached barn with an indoor swimming pool, a three-car garage, and King’s writing studio at the rear of the house.
The interior of the house features 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms and a total of 4,952 square feet, according to Zillow. King paid $135,000 to purchase the home in 1980, and today Redfin estimates it’s worth $853,579. Now, the Kings like their privacy, so there aren’t any pictures or details about what the inside of the house looks like, which obviously makes it even more fascinating and appealing to fans.
If you’re a die-hard Stephen King fan, like myself, and you get the chance to visit central Maine, it’s worth taking a day-trip to Bangor and getting a feel of what it’s like to live in one of his novels. If you want to make the best of your visit and make sure that you’ve checked all the main sights, then you’ll definitely want to book a tour of ‘Stephen King’s Derry,’ organized by SK Tours. If you don’t have time for that, enter ‘47 West Broadway’ in your GPS and it’ll take you right to the center of the Stephen King universe. Be sure to take lots of pictures, and be on the lookout for red balloons or evil corgis.
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