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The Heifer House


1909 in Danville was a lovely year.  The entire city was going along with its pleasant business, nothing out of the ordinary occurring.   Children were laughing and playing in the streets, their elders keeping their mischievous behavior in check.  The young men were more responsible and didn’t have a watchful eye over them. When night came, the young men could do as they pleased.  They could go to the Heifer House unnoticed.

The Heifer House-- a place that definitely doesn’t fit in with the monotony of 1909 Danville.  To explain tersely why it doesn’t fit, the Heifer House was a whorehouse.  A shady business it may have been, but nevertheless, the city government could not shut it down due to the ambition of an entrepreneurial lady named Mrs. Landy.  Needless to say, the Danville Chamber of Commerce didn’t embrace her type of business.  As soon as the city would try to enforce some obscure ordinance, Mrs. Landy would come out with her guns blazing.

August was very hot that year and tensions rose with the heat.  The Heifer House was rarely open in the middle of the day, and it was definitely not open on one sultry afternoon.  Later in the day, towards dusk the house would open up its, ahem, bosom to welcome customers.  100% satisfaction guaranteed?  Not this time….

Danville’s entertainment for that night, other than the Heifer House, was to be a lunar eclipse.  Most people could have cared less; they were too preoccupied with the heat and the long lines at the you-know-where.  That night the wait was particularly long and a few young men began getting frustrated.  A shifty figure slinked up to them from the shadows with an interesting prospect.  The man said that if they would destroy the house, he would give them a sizeable monetary reward and also a “heifer” of their own. 

            It doesn’t take much to push people over the edge when they’re standing on it already.  The shifty figure gave them dynamite to blow up the establishment, telling them to wait until the lunar eclipse started so they would not be seen.  The eclipse began.  The dynamite was lit.  An explosion ensued and the whole town was there in no time. 

            Some of the workers and clients escaped, while others weren’t so lucky.  The building was basically destroyed, not worth reconstructing.  The city officials were very pleased.   They probably weren’t too disappointed that poor Mrs. Landy had been killed in the explosion either.  Undoubtedly, the shifty figure was a city official determined to close the Heifer House, a crucial point for his reelection.  Not long afterwards, just before the election, a certain city official disappeared without a trace.

            The Heifer House is long gone and is nothing but an eccentric memory, but what lies over the place where the house was built is something ironic.  Constitution Square is now built over the Heifer House’s old location on the west side of the Square, where Mrs. Landy is a permanent visitor.  During an oddity of the moon such as a lunar eclipse, she haunts the grounds by screaming profanities and curses about how she was wronged. Generally, however, Mrs. Landy is a venerable spirit. 

One may also hear certain moaning sounds coming from the previous location of the building during a moon oddity.  In addition, a female who walks through the site on one of these occasions will be asked if she would like to work for the Heifer House.   A  male will be asked if he would like to come inside.  As ludicrous as it sounds, these things are true.  May the Heifer House never be forgotten.


Good night, Mrs. Landy.

Lance Lee

Allen County- Scottsville High School