The House of Visions, a Toledo shell environment form the past

Once again, Narrow Larry has uncovered a great find. He has posted a number of vintage postcards of an environment that I hadn’t ever heard of. Be sure to visit his site to see more!

House of Visions – Cassius M. Hettinger

? – 1955

Created: c. 1919 –

Demolished in 1969

(text from the cover a a vintage postcard folder in Narrow Larry Harris’ collection:)

Toledoan Build “House of Dreams” out of shells as “vision” directed him to do.

The “house of visions” that a Toledoan spent years in building to obey the commands that came to him in three separate “visions” is attracting thousands of persons to 1104 Upton Avenue.

Despite pleas of others that he tells the story connected with the building of Toledo’s most unusual house, the porch and walk of which is constructed of shells, Cassius M. Hettinger, the builder kept the secret until recently.

Then, felling that he had fulfilled the demands made of him in the three major “visions,” Hettinger told the story to a reporter for The Toledo Times.

Rivers and lakes of many states were searched for the shells seen in the first “vision.” Scores of samples were obtained in Florida by Hettinger, but none that was like the one he must use in his “house of visions.”

The design of the house came in the second “vision” and after the third he promptly modeled a lion identical with the one he saw taken up into heaven, he said. The lion now is enclosed be a by a high iron fence in his yard.

Before telling each of the three major visions in detail, Hettinger explained that he felt troubled and misfortune often came to him before the three apparitions were fulfilled.

But since he started to reproduce the strange objects seen, he has had peace of mind, and it seems that everything he touches turns to money, he said.

“It was several years ago that I had my first vision in a hotel room.” Hettinger said.

“At the time I knew I wasn’t dreaming, but it was impossible for me to arouse myself.”

“I felt myself walking under the surface of the sea, and, lured on my mermaids. I was led to a plain house with a garden, in which were numerous designs constructed of the shells you see here in the house. In the house was unplaned wood and everything was simple. Across the front was a porch similar to the one here.”

“I was troubled for months and years after the vision, and tried in vain to interpret it. Other persons couldn’t either. Then the second vision came.”

“On one of the five lots I own off Stickney Avenue. I had a vision of a church with plain windows, and on it was a porch again, as you see here on this house. Directly a man came up to me from out of the ground and said ‘Wouldn’t the Lord be pleased with this?’

“I searched Florida, for I thought they would be found there if any place. Here are some of the scores of samples I obtained, At last when I had almost given up, I found the proper shells out at Reno beach, right near home, after I had been searching in distant places.”

So I set about to build the place I had seen in the visions and hired a carpenter to help me.”

“Then came the third major vision while I was completing the house. I visioned thousands of huge birds flying past me, and behind them came thousands of perfectly formed horses, all of them with their heads turned toward the left, looking at me.”

Hettinger told how he hauled bushes of shells to make the porch and walks and covered the chains for ornaments with the shells.

Outside the house he has made a reproduction of the well to which Rebecca carried the pitcher, and he also made a reproduction of Martha’s gate as he saw in a vision.

Almost every inch inside the “house of visions” is covered with paintings. They range from Biblical scenes to a picture of a team of horses hit by a train at a grade crossing.

Hettinger said he has often been asked to exhibit his paintings at art exhibits but always has declined the invitations.