It’s black cats, skeletons and ghosts at Hill Crest House at the corner of Bank Street and Feliciana Drive in Clinton.
This time of year, the house is arguably the “spookiest house in town” as the eyes of a huge black cat stare balefully out of the dormer’s double windows on the second floor, and ghosts and skeletons dangle and sway in the October wind on the front gallery. Other black cat silhouettes stand out against glowing orange backgrounds in the downstairs windows.
The home, known to most older residents as simply “Miss Genie’s House,” was built in 1902 and restored by the original owner’s granddaughter, Elizabeth “Liz” White Brown, and her husband, Steve, in 2002.
The Whites might be unlikely subjects to turn their home into a veritable homage to Halloween, but each year since the restoration, they have steadily added to the Halloween decorations.
“I was actually afraid to get out of the car to go trick-or-treating when I was little,” Elizabeth White said.
She said she found her first Halloween costume tucked away in a closet at her late mother’s home, also on the property. “I was Casper the ghost,” she said. “But my cousins had to go up and get my candy for me because I was too afraid to go myself.”
Although she was too afraid to do her own trick-or-treating as a child, White, who celebrated her 50th birthday Oct. 15, always has loved the holiday.
The large Victorian house that belonged to her grandmother is perfect for Halloween decorating.
It sits back from the road surrounded by a picket fence, with a few large live oaks and magnolia trees in the yard, as well as huge camellia and azalea bushes.
The huge cat’s eyes that are the focal point were one of her first finds.
“I ordered them from a place I found online,” she said. The effect is created by placing the window film with the eyes on it on the upstairs windows in the dormer and placing table lamps behind them, for a glowing effect.
She found the window film with the black cats on orange backgrounds the same year. Through the years, the couple has added ghosts and skeletons but no faux cobwebs. “Any cobwebs we may have are all naturally created by spiders,” she said. Usually, they try to have the house decorated by Oct. 1, and the decorations stay up all month.
“I think too many people take Halloween too seriously and read too much into it. It’s just a fun day for kids to dress up in costume, go around to neighbors and get lots of candy,” she said.
And talk about candy — the Whites fill a large black cauldron on the front gallery full of sweet treats each year. She estimated the cauldron holds about 50 pounds of the sweet stuff.
“It is usually all gone by the end of the evening,” she said when asked to estimate how much candy they give out each year.
Some years, White dresses in costume and hands out candy in person, but sometimes, other family members and friends take over her candy dispensing duties.
“It all depends on what day of the week Halloween falls on. We have a shop in Covington called Retreat — Home and Lifestyle Resale, a consignment furniture and home décor business, and sometimes, I can’t get away to come home to Clinton for Halloween. When that happens, Aunt Ada or another member of the family takes my place,” she said.
Last year, it rained during trick-or-treat hours so people drove around to the rear of the house and sent someone out to get candy from the Whites at the back door. “Even with the rain, we managed to give all our candy away,” she said.
Because East Feliciana High School has a home game on Oct. 31, the town of Clinton is holding trick or treat for preteens from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 30.
This year, as in years past, the “spookiest house in town” awaits youngsters seeking a treat as well as a good scare.