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Raleigh Mystery House
January 18, 2014 2:27 PM   Subscribe

What's inside this mystery house in North Carolina? It looks like an average 1970's home with "a landscaped yard, white columns, and green shutters." But look closer and you'll notice there's no driveway, no walkway leading up to the front door, and no mailbox. The truth behind this mysterious building in Raleigh, NC might surprise you.
posted by capricorn (60 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you're on mobile and don't need to see a video right now, here is a good old fashioned text webpage with the shocking answer.
posted by tss at 2:30 PM on January 18 [24 favorites]


We have an AT&T switching station building in town that is very similar, from the road it looks like a house. If you go around back you notice an oversized parking lot. I think this is pretty common practice in areas where corporations/governments want to put in a utility type of building in a residential neighborhood. Less likely to draw complaints from neighbors.
posted by HuronBob at 2:31 PM on January 18


SPOILER






WATER PUMP
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:34 PM on January 18 [21 favorites]


What's he building in there?
posted by hal9k at 2:37 PM on January 18 [21 favorites]


Sorry, a lifetime of American genre media has made it clear: NEVER EVER WONDER WHAT LIES UNDER THE VEIL OF HUMDRUM SUBURBIAN LIFE
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


New York has a bunch of buildings like this, and nobody noticed them until Google Maps exposed them as facades on the noisy bits.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:38 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


London is chocabloc with this sort of thing. LA, too. I'd warrant most cities are.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:41 PM on January 18


So... other people's houses don't look like this? How do you quench your smelting furnace?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:42 PM on January 18 [16 favorites]


My guesses were electrical substation or scene of gruesome murders.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:47 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


So not a room that grants wishes?

One day. One day...
posted by Naberius at 2:47 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


It's a werehouse, or "brick-shifter" as the local legends called them. It's full of werehouse guts, digestive fluids and unlucky door-to-door salesmen.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on January 18 [32 favorites]


I was like, "It's a pump house, right? There's a pump?"

My favorite in the genre is the false buildings in Bayswater, London, that hide a bit of exposed Tube.

A few in NYC from BLDGBLOG.

Here's some Toronto examples.

Here's some different sorts of disguised cell towers. More fake tree towers.

I'm trying to find a pretty pump house I saw in Kansas City but I can't find it on the web.

And here's a prior AskMe with some examples!

Obviously I like this sort of thing. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:49 PM on January 18 [28 favorites]


If I lived there, I would definitely make and light jack-o-lanterns for the front porch on Halloween.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:52 PM on January 18 [8 favorites]


A good personality test: when you realized this wasn't a tale of sinister mystery but actually an informative video about components of urban infrastructure, were you

a) deflated
b) way more excited
posted by oliverburkeman at 2:54 PM on January 18 [49 favorites]


b)!
posted by rtha at 2:56 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


I figured this was going to be about a secret CoC house, for people who pledged a billion years of service
posted by thelonius at 2:58 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


I was totally focused on the This American Life tone of the narration.
posted by davebush at 3:03 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


a, because I love sinister mysteries, but then I was kind of sad when Gone Home was just a touching story about a family rather than a touching story about a family murdered by a ghost.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:03 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I was hoping for a sinister shocking secret but equally delighted with the real answer. The fact that Perry Allan, civic employee, is so charming with his lovely accent didn't hurt. Thumbs up!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:09 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Uh-huh, and now the terrorists know where to go to disrupt/poison the Triangle's water supply. Thanks so much liberal public radio!
posted by zscore at 3:16 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


The fake houses at Leinster Gardens in London contain a strategic supply of air.
posted by hat_eater at 3:21 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


I'm from Raleigh; that house is right down the street from my middle school. I've probably driven by it a thousand times, and I never knew about it until I saw this story.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:22 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


a) deflated
b) way more excited


Both at once? Kinda exflated?
posted by this is a thing at 3:23 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


The fake houses at Leinster Gardens in London contain a strategic supply of air.

And I like them exactly as much as the Bayswater houses mentioned earlier by Eyebrows Mc Gee.
posted by hat_eater at 3:27 PM on January 18


Not a secret entrance to the Hive then? Very disappointing.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:28 PM on January 18


This is "keeping up with the Joneses" gone mad.

It started with the guy next door putting in a new tap.

The fellow at 3215 Wade (get it?) Avenue just didn't have the balls to take the final step and turn himself and his entire family into those entities from The Abyss.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:31 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Man, if there are any teens in the Triangle who see that, the government is really going to regret talking up the anti-vandalism aspect.
posted by graphnerd at 3:31 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


There was a later episode of King of the Hill that touched on this. I just hit my head on an open cabinet hard enough to draw blood so I should probably get off the internet instead of hunting it down.
posted by item at 3:34 PM on January 18 [8 favorites]


Gone Home spoilers?! Aw, c'mon. :(
posted by redsparkler at 3:34 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


As kids, we had a mystery concrete structure in our neck of the woods, and it must've been related to sewer and water because there was a manhole cover within this structure. So, my brother and I go there and find this big lever thing and decide that we are going to uncover the mystery of this structure by levering open the manhole cover and find the secrets within. My little brother put all his weight on the lever, and the cover opened, and I peered within.

I had a few seconds of darkness and mysterious water smells, and then the manhole cover slipped and the jagged edge of the very heavy cover sliced my thumb, which was on the lip of the hole, almost in half. One complication in all this was that I had roller skates on and home, a few blocks away, was uphill.

The moral of this story is that if you are like me and lack several aspects of common sense, do not fuck with municipal sewer and water stuff.
posted by angrycat at 3:37 PM on January 18 [12 favorites]


When I was exploring the neighborhood in Los Angeles where my then-it's-complicated lives, I was particularly fascinated by the facts that (a) there were oil derricks in regular neighborhoods and (b) they were often hidden in the shells of fake houses, which I usually found by accident when a service truck would be coming or going. He's right around the block from the Six Feet Under house, and it's all very, very strange for a Marylander, and I live in the squatting presence of some of the spookiest spook works in the country.

Then, while visiting an old friend in Long Beach, I asked about the weird futuristic resort islands not too far from the beach, and it got even weirder.

The world is full of things to discover.
posted by sonascope at 3:37 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


I'm from Raleigh; that house is right down the street from my middle school. I've probably driven by it a thousand times, and I never knew about it until I saw this story.

You lived in one of the very human homes in Raleigh. The rest are all pump stations.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:39 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


Lights on, but nobody home.
posted by timsteil at 3:42 PM on January 18


Neat, but the setup left me wanting (and expecting) something much less mundane. Something much more numbers-stationy.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:57 PM on January 18


BUT WHAT'S INSIDE THE WATER PUMP? THATS THE SHOCKING SECRET THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW!!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:58 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


I like the Chicago Thermal Buildings that house the ice-based thermal storage system. The video is very cool.
posted by readery at 3:58 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


This is related to how I feel about UFOs. Ordinary life is so interesting that it is absurd to look beyond it and create conspiracies.
posted by Morrigan at 3:58 PM on January 18


The fact that Perry Allan, civic employee, is so charming with his lovely accent didn't hurt.

I tell you what. I hear that accent and the fact that I can't just pop out for some pig from Allen and Sons or a glorious DEATH TO ARTERIES plate of biscuits and gravy from Elmo's just... hurts.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:26 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


Gone Home spoilers?! Aw, c'mon. :(

The solution to this problem is to play it already! Why are you taking to other people when you could be in a dark room playing Gone Home with headphones on?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:32 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but with the build-up to this, I was hoping that it wouldn't be something as mundane as camouflage for a municipal utility. Imagine a house without a driveway, walkway or mailbox because the homeowner was such a dedicated misanthrope that they insisted on having no visitors whatsoever, except for someone dropping off grocery deliveries at the front door. That would be kind of awesome.

And sentry robots to keep the kids off the lawn, of course.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:41 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


London is chocabloc with this sort of thing. LA, too. I'd warrant most cities are.

Yup, LA is full of things like hidden oil pumps (text description of a tour of such sites; 9 minute video tour from Vice; more oil in LA, previously).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:46 PM on January 18


Sorry, a lifetime of American genre media has made it clear: NEVER EVER WONDER WHAT LIES UNDER THE VEIL OF HUMDRUM SUBURBIAN LIFE

Seriously, since I refuse to engage with the dipshit clickbait framing of this post and sit through a video to find out, I'm thinking: Ariel Castro, maybe?
posted by indubitable at 4:49 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


This post got me to finally look up what the deal is with 10 E Lake Street. Apparently an electrical substation. I wondered for years whether it wasn't some weird Skull and Bones type sekrit meeting house.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:56 PM on January 18


Meanwhile, this comment likely explains my neighborhood's "mystery house".
posted by capricorn at 5:00 PM on January 18


The house I grew up in was an unusual design. Years later a neighbour down the street told me they thought it was a substation for a long time.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:17 PM on January 18


It kind of was a twist though 'cause I sort of thought "ELECTRICAL SUBSTATION" but it turned out to be another kind of infrastructure entirely.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:32 PM on January 18


There's an antimatter condenser in my closet that keeps this quadrant of the multiverse from oxidizing too quickly and setting off a chain reaction that would implode the galaxy prematurely. It's also not on Google Maps.
posted by planetesimal at 5:35 PM on January 18


A good personality test

a) You clicked through

b) You're sick to fucking death of 'the secret of what's inside might surprise you!' content-mill click-bait headlines and have just given up on humanity
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:53 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


BUT WHAT'S INSIDE THE WATER PUMP?

Curiously, a rather comfortable house for a family of 3-5.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:36 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


And every member of that family contains within their body a tiny replica of the entire city of Raleigh, NC.
posted by this is a thing at 7:16 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I drive past that house almost every day and I never noticed anything.
posted by scose at 7:29 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


b) You're sick to fucking death of 'the secret of what's inside might surprise you!' content-mill click-bait headlines and have just given up on humanity

...which is just the sort of person who would live in a house with no driveway, no walkway, and no mailbox.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:27 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


b) You're sick to fucking death of 'the secret of what's inside might surprise you!' content-mill click-bait headlines and have just given up on humanity

...which is just the sort of person who would live in a house with no driveway, no walkway, and no mailbox.



It still doesn't dissuade the Jehovah's Witnesses, fyi.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:58 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Isn't the metro Los Angeles area filled with oil derricks disguised as office buildings?
posted by zardoz at 3:08 AM on January 19


So not a room that grants wishes?

Sorry. But as rumor has it there is a secret Chocolate Room.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:18 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


C. This post gave you a great idea for your Parks and Rec spec script.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:22 AM on January 19


readery: "I like the Chicago Thermal Buildings that house the ice-based thermal storage system.

Chicago also likes to show off its pumping stations.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:18 AM on January 19


> "We have an AT&T switching station building in town that is very similar ..."

You mean, the phone calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE?
posted by kyrademon at 11:54 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


oliverburkeman: "A good personality test: when you realized this wasn't a tale of sinister mystery but actually an informative video about components of urban infrastructure, were you

a) deflated
b) way more excited
"

b!

I love that some municipal agencies saw the long-term advantage to making some of the infrastructure blend in. There is so much residential and commercial real-estate development as well as local government eminent-domain projects that get approval to be plopped down with only the most superficial regard for how it affects the neighborhood.

Besides, these structures will totally seem like tales of sinister mystery when future archeologists discover them a few millennia from now.
posted by desuetude at 12:23 PM on January 19


Sounds like a short story by Manly Wade Wellman (or Donald Wollheim)
posted by kurumi at 3:37 PM on January 19


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