Featured Post

Alberta Book: Photographs by George Webber

As an urban explorer who holds a love for urbex photography, I am continually on the lookout for works published by professional photographers. My wife and I often find ourselves at the nearby Indigo/Chapters store as she is an avid bookworm who easily manages to read at least 3-4 novels a month. While she browses I always end up gravitating towards the photography/fine arts section to see what’s new. I then quickly glance through the local interest section which generally has few titles that peak my interest. However, on one of our recent “book dates”, I came across a photography book by George Webber simply called Alberta Book. I must admit that I’ve never heard of Mr Webber but the cover photo certainly caught my attention.

The book contains over 200 color photographs of Webber’s work compiled over 40 years of photographing and exploring the many forgotten Alberta towns that dot the Canadian prairies. An abundance of pictures depicting deteriorating signs, abandoned buildings, an…

Abandoned Homes That Became Stars: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre House

“The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

And so began the opening monologue. I knew nothing of the movie that I just placed into the VCR as a teenager. There was no internet to Google or YouTube trailers to watch. Even though I considered myself a big horror fan, I was not quite prepared for the impact this movie would have on me. The horror that Sally Hardisty and her friends found in that remote rural home scarred the crap out of me. Even today, as a middle aged rural explorer, I often look at the (hopefully) abandoned farmhouse in the distance and jokingly ask myself “I wonder if it’s a Texas Chainsaw house?” I often wonder if one day I’ll stumble into my own nightmarish scenario. Many old homesteads that look abandoned aren’t, hidden away in desolation, where police are an hour away and would most likely never find you anyway. Secrets are easy to bury in the boonies!

But whatever happened to the home where the movie was filmed?

In 1973, a dilapidated 1900’s Victorian farmhouse served as the Sawyer family home for the cult classic film. The home sat on Quick Hill Road, southeast of the small Texas town of Round Rock. While made famous in the movie, its humble beginnings originated as a “pattern book” house, the plans being sold through a publication called “America Homes” in the late 1800’s. The magazine was published by architect George Franklin Barber (1854-1915) who also used the magazine to promote and sell his house plans. Barber was one of the most successful domestic architects of the late Victorian period in the United States and became world renowned for his creations. To this day many Barber homes still exist having been fully restored and listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places for their architecture. A handful of his homes can still be found in Ontario.

The Chainsaw house was likely assembled on site sometime between 1908 and 1910 and was the heart of a working 100-plus acre farm until 1971. When filming began in Jul-August of 1973, the house was already vacant and had been deteriorating for years. After the success of the movie investors saw the worth of the Chainsaw home, its value as a horror icon and as a “Barber” home, and in 1998 the house was cut into several pieces and moved to Kingsland in Llano County, Texas. The home was reassembled and restored to its former elegance and serves as the Four Bears restaurant which still attracts fans of the original horror movie to this day.

Few photographs or videos exist of the home before being relocated. Ultra-fan Tim Harden still maintains a web site dedicated to the iconic horror movie that has user submitted photos of the Sawyer house and other Texas Chainsaw Massacre film locations.

Watch the late Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface, take a quick tour of the house in 1993. The short video provides a glimpse of the home as it sat vacant on Quick Hill road.

The last known footage of the home, just before it was relocated, was filmed in 1998 by fans K-tron (Kelsy Teague) and Mr Sludge (James Hall) who visited the location. Although the upstairs was gutted, the walkthrough provides an overview of the abandoned farmhouse where its architectural details can be seen.

What a great explore that would have been!