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Sunken Dreams: The Tale of Connecticut's House at the Bottom of the Lake

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Across New England, there are a handful of communities that were sacrificed in the name of water. The formation of Massachusetts' Quabbin Reservoir forced the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott into abandonment. In Maine, the town of Flagstaff was turned into Flagstaff Lake. The Old Hill Village in New Hampshire relocated after their town would be sacrificed for the building of a flood control reservoir.

In these cases, the towns, and all their buildings were removed, dismantled prior to their submersion. The residents were able to pack up all their stuff and take off, setting up somewhere else. In the case of Hill, New Hampshire, the residents picked up their town and moved it further uphill. There is one body of water in New England, however, that swallowed up a whole house, still furnished.

This house was not a victim of a flood, washed into the lake from the shoreline. This house sank right in the middle of the lake on a beautiful, spring day. This may not seem possible, but it happened in the town of Salem, Connecticut on Gardner Lake.

The story of the sinking house began right around the turn of the 20th century. The owner of the infamous house, Thomas LeCount, bought a beautiful lot of land on the other side of the lake from where his house sat. He believed his house would look so much better on that parcel, so he decided to move it.

Moving the house all the way around the lake conventionally would be inefficient, he thought. LeCount came up with an idea that would make far more sense. This idea would cut the moving time ten fold, and he wouldn't even have to move any furniture out of its place. His idea would prove him to be a true Yankee: He would hire a contractor to raise the house up, stick sleds underneath and slide it along the iced over lake in the winter.

The plan would commence toward the end of a cold, harsh winter in the late1800s. The ice should be plenty thick to support a fully furnished house, right? The lake had been through nearly an entire New England winter. That ice must be really thick now, LeCount would think.

There was no time to lose, spring would be approaching soon, and with it, warmer temperatures and a thawing ice. LeCount and his contracted team began the process of moving the house onto the lake. The team was to get the house across the lake in one day, however, it was quickly becoming clear that this would take more than a day.

Toward the end of the first day, the house partially slipped off the sleds it was sitting on. With nightfall approaching, the team, now tired and cold, would call it a day a little early. They would return in the morning to get the house positioned back on the sleds and across the lake.

Unfortunately for LeCount, a weather system came through Connecticut that night. Rain fell throughout the night, and with the storm came warmer temperatures. At one point during this soggy night, a loud crack was heard from the lake shore. It was much too dark for anyone to see anything through the foggy, damp night air.

When LeCount and his team returned to the lake, a look of shock and horror washed over their faces. The house was no longer sitting up straight on the ice. There was a distinct lean to the house. It appeared to be listing like a sinking ship.

Upon closer inspection, the team found that the house had broken right through the weakened ice at one of the corners. The team worked for a bit to try to pull the house back upright, however, it was clear that the house would not be moving anytime soon.

After conceding defeat to old man winter, LeCount and his team entered the home one final time and gathered up what belongings and furniture they could carry out. Some of the bigger pieces in the house, such as the grand piano, was too heavy and dangerous to attempt to retrieve. After all, the house was sitting precariously in the middle of the lake with no way to know when it would take the final plunge to the icy depths.

After its abandonment, the house would continue to sit in the middle of the lake for the rest of the winter. By spring, the whole town knew about the house and on a warm, sunny spring day, residents gathered to watch a once in a generation event: a house sinking into a lake.

The town waited and waited, but the house would not go down. The hours would eventually turn to days, and the eager crowd would thin, disappointed that they would not get to see this majestic event. Even after the ice was fully gone, the house continued to bob on top of the water, eventually coming to rest in 15 feet of water.

The house would very slowly begin to sink in time. Finally, on one spring day, the house would slip completely under the water. All evidence of LeCount's grand idea was finally gone. His house was now resting at the bottom of the lake, still holding precious memories and keepsakes.

Shortly after the house collided with the lake floor, something weird began happening. Boaters claimed to hear music coming from the lake itself. Music being played on a piano. No matter how hard people tried to listen to find the music's origin, it seemed to only come from the water.

Over the coming decades, curious scuba divers would visit the home. At first, the home was reported to be "remarkably" preserved, with all the furnishing, including the grand piano, in tact. However, as the years continued to pass, the house would start to decompose, falling victim to its watery grave.

In the early 2000s, the house was said to be mostly rotted away. Now, in the 2020s, the evidence of LeCount's venture is surely completely gone now. Well, except for one thing. That piano. To this day, boaters still report hearing the vivid sounds of piano music coming from the water itself at night and especially in the early morning hours.

People have tried to investigate these claims of music, but the only explanation that they can offer is LeCount's grand piano. One local resident summed it up best:

"Be careful where you drop anchor on Gardner Lake. You just might be dropping in on one home's watery grave."



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