"The design and construction of this house represented a marriage of the elegance of Europe and the vigor and enterprise of a new world."
Barnabas Collins[src]
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Old House
Aliases: Collinwood; The Old House
Category: Residence
Continent: North America
Country: United States of America
State: Maine
Town: Collinsport
Locale: Collinwood estate
Points of interest: Parlor; Basement; Josette's room
Residents: Barnabas Collins; Willie Loomis; Julia Hoffman; Ben Stokes
Appearances: Dark Shadows

The Old House has become a formalized name referring to the original home of the Collins family in the mythos of the Dark Shadows television series. The Old House is one of the central settings in the series, second only to the main estate of Collinwood. The Old House has also made appearances in the 1991 Dark Shadows revival series as well as numerous novels and comic book adaptations. A variant incarnation of the Old House was also featured in the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. Though several people have taken up residence in the Old House throughout the course of the series, the 17th century mansion is classically known as the home of Barnabas Collins.

Description[edit | edit source]

The Old House.

The Old House was once the provincial mansion of the Collins family up until 1796. Located on the Collins estate near Widows' Hill, it was formally known as the first Collinwood. Joshua Collins was the patriarch of the last generation of Collins family members to be raised there. [1] In 1796, construction was completed on a larger family home on the same property and this would soon come to be known as the "Great House" at Collinwood. After which, the original family mansion began to be referred to simply as the Old House. With the passing of generations, this off-hand phrase became the official nomenclature for the regal estate.

The front walkway to the Old House, c. 1795.

In the year 1897, two gypsies, a husband and wife named Sandor and Magda Rakosi briefly squatted inside the Old House. Other than Barnabas himself, they were the last known occupants of the home for the next seventy years [2]

Barnabas attacked Dirk Wilkins in 1897 and brought him back to the Old House to recover from his injuries. He tried to force Dirk to convince Jamison Collins that everything he told him about Barnabas was a lie. Barnabas hid Dirk away in the secret chamber behind the bookcase in the drawing room, but Dirk escaped. [3]

By the 1960s, the Collins family (under Elizabeth Collins Stoddard) had little interest in the maintenance of the home and the Old House fell into grave disrepair. Young David Collins frequently visited the ruins and regarded the house as a massive playground. He could often be found hanging around the dusty drawing room talking to the Portrait of Josette Collins, painted in Paris in 1795 and given to Barnabas as a wedding gift by Josette's father, Andre du Pres. The portrait still hung above the fireplace mantle since Barnabas first hung it there in 1796 while he was married to Angelique Bouchard. [4]

In 1967 the vampire, Barnabas Collins, asked Elizabeth Collins Stoddard to allow him to renovate the Old House and restore it to its original condition. [5] Elizabeth was reluctant at first, but soon gave Barnabas her blessing. With his unwilling servant, Willie Loomis, Barnabas moved back into what had been his life-long home. In 1967, jewel thief Willie Loomis broke into the Collins family mausoleum at Eagle Hill Cemetery where he discovered Barnabas' chained coffin. Thinking that Collins family jewels were inside, Willie forced the coffin open, thus releasing vampire Barnabas after 171 years. Barnabas immediately attacked Willie who fell under the vampire's power and became his slave. [6]

Barnabas Collins told Victoria Winters about the origins of the Old House during a conversation in its drawing room in 1967. He compared the Old House to the pyramids of Egypt. Barnabas gave a detailed description of the house's construction in which he said –

"The design and construction of this house represented a marriage of the elegance of Europe and the vigor and enterprise of a new world. The foundations were made from rocks left behind by glaciers, thousands of years ago. The beams and supports were cut from ancient local forests. The plaster walls were made from crushed clamshells and horsehair. Bricks were imported from Holland. That dusty chandelier - brought over from France - gleamed with hypnotic brilliance. That faded wallpaper was specially designed by a Belgian artist. The parquet floors were installed by an Italian craftsman. Cornices and moldings were the effort of a Spanish craftsman. It was a house to be envied by a prince. But in spite of all this, the total effort was an agony to man. Men were driven to their limits. What should have been an act...a labor of love – became a hateful thing. There were the crippled and the dead. Like the pyramids, one could ask…was it worth it?" [7]


After attacking Maggie Evans and thus putting her under his vampire spell in 1967, Barnabas held her as a prisoner at the Old House and unsuccessfully attempted to transform her into his long lost love Josette du Pres. Willie was forced to comply with Barnabas' delusion but felt great pity for Maggie and tried to help her. The ghost of Sarah Collins, Barnabas' little 9 year-old sister who died in 1796, began appearing at the Old House and eventually helped Maggie escape. Maggie was found unconscious on the nearby beach by her father Sam Evans, again with Sarah Collins' assistance. Having lost her memory, she was sent to Windcliff Sanitarium, a psychiatric hospital, where Maggie became the patient of Dr. Julia Hoffman.

1968[edit | edit source]

An injured and mentally unstable Joe Haskell was kept inside of Josette's bedroom. He escaped from the room and found Barnabas napping in the drawing room. He began strangling Barnabas in his chair with a curtain cord until Mrs. Johnson came to the house and drove him off. After Joe left, Mrs. Johnson saw to it that Barnabas was okay. (DS 614)

Points of Interest[edit | edit source]

Drawing Room
The drawing room was the main living area of the Old House and was located just off the foyer, to the left when entering the building. For many years the portrait of Josette Collins hung above the fireplace mantle in the drawing room, but after Barnabas Collins began his renovations in 1967, the portrait was moved upstairs to Josette's old room. Barnabas replaced the painting with a newly painted portrait of himself that he commissioned from artist Sam Evans.
The entrance to the basement was located just behind the central staircase. This was where Barnabas maintained his coffin for quite some time during the late 20th century when he was still a vampire. Behind the brick facade of the basement were the skeletal remains of Reverend Trask, whom Barnabas had walled up in 1795. The ghost of Reverend Trask would later return to torment Barnabas, avenging his own death by having Barnabas walled up behind the bricks in his place. In 1897, Barnabas took possession of the Old House once again and moved his coffin into the basement. Jamison Collins crept into the basement one evening and discovered the coffin. He immediately rushed home to tell his father. Edward Collins asked to inspect Barnabas' cellar to see if there was any validity to Jamison's claims. Having prepared for just such an eventuality, Barnabas had the coffin temporarily removed. (DS 770) The basement was also where Barnabas and Julia Hoffman kept Adam chained up during his brief stay at the Old House.
Josette's room
In 1795, this was Josette DuPres' bedroom where she stayed briefly prior to her wedding to Jeremiah Collins. In 1967, Barnabas Collins refurbished the room, restoring it to its original condition, including all of Josette's perfectly preserved belongings including her wedding gown, hair brush and other toiletries. The portrait of Josette, which was formerly hung above the mantle in the downstairs drawing room, was moved into the refurbished room. Barnabas abducted a local woman named Maggie Evans, whom he believed to be the reincarnation of his lost Josette and held her captive in the bedroom. Through his hypnotic powers, he even convinced Maggie that she was Josette for some time. Maggie eventually escaped, but with the help of Doctor Julia Hoffman, possessed no memories of her time as Barnabas' prisoner. Joe Haskell was later brought her after having suffered an injury, as well as a rapid deterioration of mental stability. He took a tie-cord from one of the curtains in the room, which he used to strangle Barnabas Collins. (DS 614)
Secret room
A small secret room existed behind a book shelf in the parlor on the interior wall adjacent to the mantle. In 1796, Ben Stokes hid fugitives Peter Bradford and Victoria Winters inside this secret room shortly after they had escaped from jail. [8]In 1840, the scheming Gerard Stiles correctly deduced that Barnabas Collins was a vampire and tried to expose him by breaking into the secret room. With the help of Angelique, Barnabas prevented Gerard from entering the room and discovering his coffin. In 1897, Barnabas Collins - again a vampire, attacked Dirk Wilkins and brought him to the Old House. He hid him away in the secret chamber until he could recover from his wounds, but Dirk escaped. [9] Barnabas later had to conceal his coffin inside the secret chamber. The coffin was was discovered by Count Petofi (possessing the body of Jamison Collins) and Aristede, who forced Magda the Gyspy to reveal it's location. Fortunately for Barnabas, he was not present when they entered to drive a stake through his heart. [10] In 1970, Barnabas imprisoned the vampire Roxanne Drew inside his old coffin and bound it within chains inside the secret room. A psychic named Sebastian Shaw discovered Roxanne's coffin and tried to destroy her, but Barnabas convinced him that he could keep Roxanne contained.

Residents[edit | edit source]

18th century

19th century

20th century

Parallel Time

House of Dark Shadows[edit | edit source]

The Old House in House of Dark Shadows.

The Old House is the original family mansion of the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine. Located on the grounds of the greater Collinwood estate, it housed the family until the construction of the second great house in the early 1800's.

In 1797, Joshua Collins, patriarch of the Collins family, awarded possession of the Old House to his son, Barnabas Collins. Barnabas spent little time there as head of the household before a curse was placed upon him, turning him into a blood-sucking, vampire. Joshua Collins, unwilling to destroy his only son, decided to chain him up in a coffin and seal him away for all time in a secret room in the Collins family mausoleum. By the time Joshua Collins passed away, the Old House was no longer being used. It fell into disrepair and by the late 20th century, it was practically falling apart.

In June of 1970, Barnabas Collins awakened and left his crypt to rejoin the modern Collins family. He asked the head of the household, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard for permission to move into the Old House. Upon doing so, he employed several workers (not always through reputable means), including Willie Loomis in an effort to restore Old House to its original condition. Eventually however, Barnabas’ vampiric nature became known and he was chased away from the Old House and ultimately destroyed. The Old House fell into disrepair again and was unoccupied by the time Quentin Collins inherited the Collinwood properties.

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Exterior still shots of the Old House were actually photographs of 'Veruselle', the mansion residence of Russell Hopkins in Irvington, New York. The mansion was located on the Lyndhurst estate, which was also used for filming the Collinwood scenes for both the House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows feature films. Although no scenes were actually filmed at the Irvington mansion, there is at least one promotional photo of Jonathan Frid standing atop the balcony of the building taken at some point prior to 1969 when the mansion burned down, leaving behind only trace remains of the foundation. Interior scenes of the Old House were filmed at ABC-TV studios in New York.
  • In terms of distance, the Old House is a fifteen-minute walk from Collinwood.
  • On the library shelf that covers up the entrance to the secret chamber, Barnabas has the Complete Works of Shakespeare. [11]

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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Dark Shadows Location
This article relates to locations featured in and pertaining to the Dark Shadows television and film franchise. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Dark Shadows Locations category.
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