Located on the shores of West Bay Lake in the Northeast region of WI, Summerwind Mansion (also known as Lamont Mansion) sits as a shell of its former self. It was constructed in 1916 by Robert P. Lamont as a summer home for him and his family, but the experience of living within the walls of Summerwind would soon turn sour.
Many claim that the paranormal activity at Summerwind didn’t begin until after the Lamonts occupied the mansion, but there are accounts of paranormal activity on the property during this time. In one such account, Lamont shot at a spirit in the kitchen one evening. He believed it to be an intruder, but the bullet went right through the specter and lodged itself in the basement door. The bullet holes remained as a reminder of the occurrence.
The house was sold several times after the Lamonts occupied Summerwind and eventually fell into the hands of Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger. The Hinshaw’s and their 6 children moved in in the 1970s and remained there for a rather eventful 6 months.
It seemed as if the house came alive immediately and the Hinshaw’s began to see and experience all the paranormal activity that Summerwind had to offer. They would see vague shapes and shadows in the hallways, hear mumbled voices in empty rooms, and would often see the ghost of a woman in the dining room before she turned and floated straight through the closed french doors. However, whenever the Hinshaw’s would walk into a room or occupy a space in which something paranormal had been observed, the activity would abruptly stop. The family thought that the paranormal activity was imagined, but the events continued. At times, when certain items in the house would break down (a water pump for example,) Arnold would go to fix it, but it would already be repaired. It was as if the items were repairing themselves. Windows and doors would reopen after they had been shut tight. One window had to be nailed shut because it would constantly open again, even after it had been locked. These odd occurrences were innocuous enough and the Hinshaw’s went on living with the ghosts because it seemed as if they meant anyone harm. One morning, as Arnold got into his car to go to work, the vehicle burst into flames. The fire was investigated, but no cause was found. Perhaps the ghosts were not so innocuous after all?
The Hinshaw’s, having spent a fair bit of money on Summerwind, decided to invest in the property and take care of some maintenance that needed to be done. They hired workers to help with tasks that they could not do themselves, but those they hired would fake illness to get out of coming to the property or refused to work altogether. They had heard the stories about Summerwind and were afraid to even set foot on the grounds. The Hinshaw’s, having no reliable help, began renovating Summerwind on their own.
I’m assuming that having little experience with home reno, they decided to start with a smaller project: a bedroom closet. In the closet, as was the case with many Victorian houses built in the 19th century, was a dresser that was built into the wall. Each drawer could be removed leaving an opening in the wall. Arnold kind of wedged himself into one of the openings, perhaps to see how to go about removing the framing for the built-in, when he was startled by an object in the wall. He was sure he saw something, perhaps an animal corpse of some kind, and scurried back in fright. I guess Arnold wasn’t campaigning for father of the year because when his daughter came home from school, he asked her to climb in through the opening to see what was back there. Mary was small in stature and could fit easily. Shortly after entering the space, she came upon a human skeleton, a skull with dirty black hair, and what remained of an arm and a leg, in the opening. I’m sure this was horrifying for the young girl. I wonder if therapy was equally as expensive in the 70s as it is now? Anyway… This event was never reported to the authorities so there’s no way to know whether this is fact or fiction. It is entirely possible that Mary made up the story to scare her father, but there’s no way to know. It’s possible that these remains were the cause of the haunting at Summerwind, but the spirit was never allowed to move on as the remains were just left in the wall.
Yep. You read that right. The remains were left in the wall.
At this point, things take a turn for the worst. Arnold begins staying up all hours playing the organ. He enjoys playing, but the music has become more and more sinister and becomes louder as the evenings progress. Ginger and the children huddle together in an upstairs bedroom as Arnold plays nonsensical gibberish that just gets louder and louder. Not surprisingly, Arnold is eventually committed and Ginger, unable to handle the situation with Arnold or Summerwind, attempts suicide.
While Arnold is undergoing treatment, Ginger and Arnold divorce, unable to fix what has been broken. After Ginger remarries, her father announces that he will buy Summerwind. Ginger has never told him what happened at the property and does the best she can to dissuade her father, but he sees potential in the place and will not be deterred. Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, is a popcorn vendor/businessman who is highly motivated to turn the property into something worthwhile. He also says he knows the identity of the ghost that is haunting the location: Johnathan Carver.
Carver was an 18th-century British explorer who is searching for a deed that was given to him by the Sioux Indians. The document gives him the rights to the northern third of Wisconsin and Carver wants the document back. Supposedly, the deed is sealed within the foundation at Summerwind and Bober claims that through dreams, trances, and the use of a Ouija board, that Carver has requested his help. These experiences cause Bober to write The Carver Effect, which Bober publishes under the pen name Wolfgang Von Bober.
Once Bober purchases Summerwind, he, his son Karl, Ginger, and her new husband George take a walk through the property. George sees the bedroom closet in which Mary discovered the skeletonized remains previously and goes straight for it, almost as if some strange force were pulling him. George pulls out all of the drawers as if he’s searching for something, but Ginger has never told him about the body. When they finish and are leaving the house, Ginger fills him in. Once George hears the story, he and Karl immediately head back inside to investigate the space more thoroughly, but they find nothing.
At the end of the summer, Karl travels to the property alone in order to get estimates on various construction projects that have to be done as well as to do some yard cleanup. It begins to rain, so Karl heads inside and begins closing windows. In an upstairs hallway, he thinks he hears a voice calling his name. He investigates, but there is nobody else on the property with him and the house is empty. Suddenly, he hears the sound of a gunshot coming from the kitchen. He races to see what’s happening but when he arrives nobody is there. The smell of gunpowder lingers in the air and, upon closer inspection, Karl finds two bullet holes in the basement door. They are worn smooth and have clearly been there a while. Karl left Summerwind that afternoon.
Bober had dreams of turning the property into a restaurant and an inn, but he was faced with the same issues as the Hinshaw’s. Workers refused to come to the site and finding help to renovate the site was almost impossible. Tools would disappear from work areas and the workers who did stay complained of feeling like they were being watched. Bober’s wife agreed with the workmen, claiming she constantly felt as if something unseen was following her around the house.
Likely one of the most interesting ghostly occurrences at Summerwind was the shrinking and enlargement of rooms within the mansion itself. Apparently, workers trying to measure for new plywood or siding would measure, go to purchase supplies and cut what was needed, return with the correctly measured piece, and find that the piece didn’t fit or was too large for the space they’d intended. It was as if Summerwind was expanding and contracting in order to avoid being remodeled. The original plans for the house didn’t match the actual size of the rooms, in one case a room that should have been able to accommodate 150 people could only accommodate 50, and photos taken of certain interior spaces caused those spaces to look far larger than they actually were. Ginger had taken photos of the living room after she had removed the curtains (following she and Arnolds move out of Summerwind) and the curtains appeared in photos she took of the property afterward. The project to restore the mansion was abandoned and never came to fruition.
However, the fact that the property would never be a bed and breakfast never deterred Bober from searching for Carver’s deed. He and those family members who visited Summerwind never actually stayed inside. Rather, they lived in an RV on the property. Bober claimed that Carver had become angry because his deed had not yet been found and living within the walls of the mansion would be dangerous. Bober spent countless hours in the basement, feverishly chipping away at the foundation and peering into the crevices, but he found nothing. The man who originally poured the foundation was asked years later if anything had been placed within it while it was hardening, but he said nothing had been hidden there.
Even if Bober had found the deed it would have been worthless. I can’t imagine that Carver’s ghost cared much about the validity of the document, but I suppose that point is moot. Also, the Sioux Indians are not a single tribe, they were an entire nation of people and many different tribes. Additionally, the British government ruled against the individual purchase of Indian land and the Sioux never claimed land west of the Mississippi. However, the land wasn’t sold to Carver it was supposedly gifted. Is it possible the Sioux abandoned the land and deeded it to Carver?
Bober spent less than 2 summers at Summerwind and, in a last-ditch effort to make the property into something more than a haunted hovel, he tried to procure a concessions license. It was denied.
Is Summerwind (what’s left of it) really haunted? The property was struck by lightning in 1988 after changing hands a couple of times and burned to the ground, so only the foundation, some stairs, and the chimney stack remain. Could spirits still be lingering here seeking release? What do you think?
Until next time, Stay Spooky.
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