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The first time I heard about St. Mary's Seminary was through two classmates who came to school one day beaten and battered. One had cuts and bruises all over his face, arms, and legs, and the other had a broken arm in a sling. They had traveled to an abandoned building up on a hill not far from Main Street, which, they called Hell House. After they climbed a huge flight of steps and had caught their first glimpse of the huge crumbling remains, they claimed they heard a gun fired, and then dogs barking. Next thing they knew, they were being chased by two large rottweilers, and their only path was down a steep hill. They chose the hill over the dogs' teeth, and that's where the bruises, cuts, and broken bones came from.
Since then I have been up to St. Mary's more times than I can coaunt. Friends and I went up there to explore together during the day time and at night. We discovered night time was usually the best, because we were more likely to be on our own. One of our most interesting trips occurred in late October of 2002. This was the same time that the sniper attacks were occurring outside of D.C. After we explored the Seminary ruins well into the night, we returned to our cars under the train bridge to find a police car waiting for us. When the police saw us coming, two officers got out of the car, one out of the driver's side, and one, holding a shotgun upright, out of the passenger's side.
The driver said to us, "You all know you're trespassing, right?"
"No, sir" we all replied. The officer went on to tell us that we were trespassing, and that we couldn't park here. He said that we were all foolish to be out this late at night with a sniper on the loose, that we could be hurt or killed, and that we needed to get home immediately. The officers watched as we got into our cars and drove off, the entire time the officer with the shotgun not taking his eyes off of us or lifting a finger from the gun.
When my friends refused to explore deeper into the main building because they were afraid that it would collapse, I decided to explore on my own. I remember walking up the stairs one sunny day, and met a group of 3 kids at the top. They said in amazement, "You're not going up there on your own, are you?" I responded with, "Why not?" I don't believe in the supernatural, but I am a bit obsessed with nature, and abandoned buildings. have an entire binder full of pictures, newspaper and internet articles on the subject of Hell House, and even a map that I drew of the property to help people who wanted to explore it.
I was able to get many pictures of the property of everything but what my friends and I called the "goo pool", the swimming pool that was covered with duck weed and was very difficult to get to in the warmer months due to the covering of green brier and wild rose vines on the chain link fence that surrounded it. The pool was perhaps my most favorite spot on the property. My first time at the pool we found a bull frog dried up and dead hanging over the edge, looking like it had tried to jump out and had dried up in the process. There were goldfish swimming around, which you could just see below the duckweed. In the far left corner were the remains of a deer. I took some of the vertebrae home with me. On the day that I explored the property on my own, I found something large floating in the pool. Curious, I reached in and pulled it out. It was a huge snapping turtle, at least 15 pounds! It was not in a good condition. I set it on the dirt ground next to the pool, where it hissed one last time before it died.
One of the reasons I returned to the ruins of St. Mary's over and over was that it reminded me of what nature would do once mankind left. It was proof that nature can recuperate from years of destruction and torture that our species can reap upon her. When I first saw the pool and then the other larger buildings torn down, I was upset that I would never see what I first saw up there. But now I think about how much nicer it would look if the entire property was nothing but forest.