Mansard of Madness: Victorian Inspires Visions of ‘Birds’ and Cthulhu

There’s a mansard Victorian on Roanoke Avenue, you probably know the one. It seems to inspire dire thoughts in passing residents — like the return of Cthulhu and a Hitchcockian swarm of birds.

The 6 Roanoke Ave. house moved newish JP resident Anthony Penta to produce the altered photo you see above. He used Pixlr to add to the creepy atmospherics.

Another resident, Rhea Becker, was passing by one day this summer and noticed an ominous gathering of birds.

"I was walking to work today and a scene in my Jamaica Plain neighborhood looked like something right out of the Hitchcock flick 'The Birds.'"

Rhea Becker

“I was walking to work today and a scene in my Jamaica Plain neighborhood looked like something right out of the Hitchcock flick ‘The Birds.'”

Head to Becker’s excellently-named blog, “Rhea Becker’s Short Attention Span,” for how eerily this shot compares with stills from “The Birds.”

But really folks, it’s just a nice old Mansard

And while it’s entertaining to imagine the house as a portal to another world, here are the facts about this house, from the JP Historical Society‘s historical tour of Sumner Hill.

This is known as the Alexander V. Phillips House and dates to 1873. It’s another fine example of the French Second Empire. It’s got the three-part plan on the façade, the mansard roof (with cupola) and lovely decorative details. It also had a large setback and long drive. Note the fantastic Roxbury Puddingstone retaining wall. Roxbury Puddingstone is the local stone, blocks from this wall may have been quarried onsite – to create the house’s foundation. It is a conglomerate stone which was said to resemble an old-fashioned pudding (the small pebbles imbedded are like the dried fruit).

Gretchen Grozier of the Historical Society says that even in recent years, the house has looked different. It’s been yellow and then purple, for instance, and much less scary.

The owners are also nice folks who are lifetime members of the Historical Society. Surely they wouldn’t be among those working to speed the return of Dread Cthulhu?

  • I rented the first floor left side apartment in that house for a couple of years — wonderful building with gorgeous ornamentation inside, super-lofty ceilings and a great vibe.