Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Hey Cursed Ones.
As you may or may not know, prior to the official release of Thrice Cursed, I went on the podcast of two of my close friends. Niki and Tyler over at Page Turners and Button Mashers were kind enough to welcome me onto their show, and in addition to their usual amazing content revolving around books and video games, I told a ghost story. While I highly suggest you head over to their podcast and give "The Lost Causes of Ghost Goo and Meat Hooks" a listen, you can read my story here!
Summerwind Mansion - Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin
Summerwind Mansion, located in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, was built on the shore of West Bay Lake as a bed and breakfast called West Bay Lake Fishing Lodge in the early 20th century. I couldn’t find much about the building during its use as a fishing lodge, but in 1916, US Secretary of Commerce, Robert Patterson Lamont decided that this house, with its vast windows and beautiful landscapes would make the perfect home for him and his family, and purchased the building.
Within a year, Mr. Lamont had hired 2 architects from Chicago to remodel the mansion, and construction was completed in 1918. The family moved in shortly after that, and from then on, the site was known as the Lamont Mansion. Their happiness on the property was short-lived, however. Despite the gorgeous property, servants, several fireplaces, a guest quarters, and basically, having more than most people today could ever hope for, the Lamont family found their happiness in their home quickly dwindling.
Many believe that the construction on the property stirred up some long-dormant entities. Many of the servants alleged that they saw a translucent woman walking around the driveway, only to be ignored by Lamont. He wouldn’t be able to ignore that claim for long, though. One night, while Mr. Lamont and his --nameless- wife were eating dinner, they heard what sounded like the basement door. Being the man of the house and all --yay 1900s-- Mr. Lamont headed downstairs, gun in hand, ready to investigate. From upstairs in the dining room, 2 shots were heard. And like every horror movie would prove you shouldn’t do, others ran to investigate.
While there was no evidence of an intruder, Mr. Lamont swore that he had seen the ghostly form of a man apparate in front of him. Those who followed Mr. Lamont saw no such thing, only bullets, lodged in the wall. --Pun not intended, but what the hell-- Mr. Lamont had been so shaken by the incident, that he no longer felt safe within his home. Shortly after this incident, it is said that Mr. Lamont woke his wife and children in the middle of the night. They packed their necessities into the car, and then left the home forever. Mr. Lamont refused to ever return to the property, Amityville style, and never recovered any of the items within the home.
The Mansion remained vacant, and in the family, until Mr. Lamont’s death in 1948. The house changed hands many times after that. It was sold several times before Mr. and Mrs. Keefer purchased the property as a vacation home. I couldn’t find much information on this family, but it’s said that Mrs. Keefer began to feel extremely unsafe, and would try to avoid the home, not even wanting to enter it. She reportedly left the mansion unexpectedly, and when she did so, she left all of her belongings, and gave neighbors permission to take anything they’d like, with the caveat that should something bad happen to them on the property, she wasn’t responsible.
In 1969 the home was purchased by Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw. The couple quickly moved into the home with their six children.
It wasn’t long before the Hinshaws learned why the home had sat abandoned for so long. When the couple decided they wanted to renovate, they searched tirelessly for a contractor, but regardless of how much money they offered, no one would accept a contract to work on the home. Allegedly, when they were finally able to do construction on the home, one of their daughters found the skull of a human with black hair in a crawl space. This skull was never reported to the police, and was never again found. Still, the Hinshaws remained in the mansion, and they began to notice strange occurrences.
The Hinshaws reportedly saw the ghost of a woman floating back and forth past the French doors off the dining room, seeing shapes and shadows throughout the various hallways, and hearing voices throughout the home. Apparently, when they’d move about the house, the voices would stop. Windows would fly open by themselves, eventually causing Arnold to nail them shut. Appliances would break down, then start working again before any repairs could be done.
As the hauntings grew more and more frequent, their effect on the family grew more and more intense. Arnold and Ginger began to suffer insomnia, terrified that no matter what they did, the ghost would appear, watching them. It’s said that Arnold suffered a nervous breakdown in the home. He would constantly play an organ very late at night, and eventually quit his job. He said that the spirits told him to play. He was eventually sent away to receive treatment. Ginger, on the other hand, contemplated suicide. She and the children eventually moved to Granton to live with her parents.
The home was sold back to Mr. and Mrs. Keefer --why would they buy it back? They then sold the home to Raymond Von Bober, Sr --Mrs. Henshaw’s father. Raymond began renovations with the intention of turning the mansion into a new bed and breakfast. During these renovations, workers reported that their tools would go missing and reappear in different locations. The workers also reported that the dimensions and appearance of each room would frequently change, halting renovations altogether.
In 1979, Raymond eventually spoke out about his and his daughters’ experiences in the home. He published a book called The Carver Effect: a paranormal experience, under the pseudonym Wolfgang Von Bober. In this book, he dubbed the mansion Summerwind, and said that the house had its own supernatural abilities. He cited the workers’ experiences, as well as his own. He attributed many of the hauntings he experienced to one spirit: That of a man, clad in 18th century clothing, who would wander around the home at night. His footsteps could be heard, as well as the opening and closing of doors. Raymond encountered this spirit quite often. After some time, he began to suspect the spirit was none other than Jonathan Carver. Yes, the colonial explorer who had successfully explored and documented a large portion of the Mississippi River but was never recognized nor rewarded for his discoveries. Because Carver had explored so much of Wisconsin, Raymond was convinced that his spirit returned.
Locals were obviously pissed about the book, swearing the mansion had never been haunted. Much to the town’s chagrin, Life Magazine featured the property in an article titled “Terrifying Tales of Nine Haunted Houses,” only one year later. The success of this article forever changed the view of the mansion, and what was once Lamont Mansion became known as Summerwind. A haunted home with a terrifying reputation.
Because renovations could not be completed, Raymond returned home to his family, and from that point on, Summerwind lay abandoned until 1986. A man by the name of Harold Traxy purchased Summerwind in 1986 as an anniversary present to his wife Babs. On June 19, 1988, the mansion burned to the ground. Local media and news sources reported that the fire was caused by a lightning strike, but many dispute that.
Due to all of the years spent abandoned, the property had become overgrown with vegetation, trees, and underbrush. However, when the building burned, none of the vegetation did. The mansion also had still-functioning lightning rods. One local resident who had been interviewed by Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee claimed that the Fire Marshall sent a letter to the neighbors warning that the property was condemned as unsafe and was going to be burned by the fire department. Others believe that Land O’ Lakes Town Board members of the time were responsible, sick of the trespassing, vandalism, and partying in the vacant home.
Regardless of how or why the mansion burned, as of 2019, 2 of 3 chimneys still stand, along with the foundation, the basement, stone arches facing the lake, and the stairways that once led to the main entrance of the mansion. Its current owners live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the lot is valued at $246,000 for the 1.5 acres. This land is private property, and is shared by other homes. Trespassing by the public is not allowed. Sorry to all you urban explorers. One source does say that an attempt to restore the property is being made, however, and if you volunteer to help fix it up, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a ghostie.
One final paranormal report I found on ParanormalMilwaukee that had no time reference is that two teenage girls were canoeing near the Mansion. They saw a woman in white waving to them from the shore. Against the laws of self-preservation and any horror movie ever, the girls did so, and followed the woman to the mansion as a storm approached. Apparently, when they got to the mansion, the woman dematerialized, and, obviously freaked out, the girls left. Later in the Summer, they decided to tempt fate again, and tried to find the lady in white. They were successful, but this time, the lady was waving them away. They decided it would be best not to approach the mansion, and instead went home. They later found out that there was a servant inside the mansion who was threatening anyone who came near with violence. This claim had been reported by an old woman during her last year of life, and was never able to be verified.
Paranormalmilwaukee.com, hauntedrooms.com, wisconsinhauntedhouses.com, jsonline.com, roadtrippers.com, wxpr.org