What is the floor plan of Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson?

People who have read it may remember some details. As I remember from reading it decades ago, the rooms were not completely rectangular but slightly odd shaped, and a character walking through the house got confused about the direction they were travelling.

A comment on What was the location of Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson? led me to something interesting. From Wikipedia:

As part of her process, Jackson sketched floor plans of the downstairs and upstairs of Hill House and a rendering of the exterior.

And possibly those sketches still survive in her papers which are said to be in the Library of Congress.

I note that she is said to have also sketched the exterior of Hill House. Naturally the floor plan of a building should match the exterior appearance.


She later claimed to have found a picture of a California house she believed was suitably haunted-looking in a magazine. She asked her mother, who lived in California, to help find information about the dwelling. According to Jackson, her mother identified the house as one the author's own great-great-grandfather, an architect who had designed some of San Francisco's oldest buildings, had built.

Shirley Jackson's architect great great grandfather was Samuel Charles Bugbee.

The California section of Wikipedia's list of Gilded Age mansions lists four mansions designed by S.C. Bugbee & Son, all destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco.

The David Colton House is neoclassical, and the Leland Stanford house is italianate, but the style of the William Henry Crocker house is listed as Queen Anne and the style of the Charles Crocker house is listed as Second Empire, and both of them look a little more like potentially haunted houses. Of course Bugbee may have designed spooky looking houses which are not on that list.

So does anyone know anything about the floor plan of Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson?

1 Answer 1


The link in the Wikipedia article referenced in the question takes you to a defunct website called "writershouses.com". Using the Wayback Machine gives access to a guest post by Susan Scarfe Merrell from August 2010. In the article, Merrell notes that:

Jackson’s great-great-grandfather, Samuel Bugbee, designed beautiful Nob Hill mansions, and her grandfather was a prominent San Francisco architect as well. Jackson was sufficiently imbued with an architect’s brain to draw rough schematics for the houses in her fiction, unbuildable but detailed enough to guide her thinking

Later in the article Merrell includes some of Jackson's sketches for Hill House. I cannot independently verify their provenance, but they are scans labelled with the text "Reproduced from the Collection of the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress", which seems reasonably convincing. The scans include the ground floor of Hill House:

Ground floor of Hill House, sketched by Sherry Jackson

the first floor of Hill House:

First floor of Hill House, sketch by Sherry Jackson

and its exterior appearance:

Exterior of Hill House, sketch by Sherry Jackson

The floor plans are rather rough and clumsy in appearance, but good enough to guide the planning of Jackson's narrative.

  • Is there any reason to doubt those drawings which are in the Library of Congress with her own papers?
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 13 at 20:12

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