The Summerwind/Lamont Mansion Hauntings
It was the early 1900’s, a fishing lodge was built upon a hill on the shores of West Bay Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin. No one really knows what may have happened during the first few years in which the lodge was opened, but there were claims of spirits that roamed throughout the building and people felt uneasy about staying there. A skeptic by the name of Robert Lamont purchased the lodge in 1916 and started renovations the following year. The maid felt the need to warn Mr. Lamont about previous incidents in which people had seen shadows and heard random voices speaking in empty rooms. Being the serious man that Robert was, he laughed it off and told his maid not to be ridiculous, “There is no such thing as ghosts or spirits haunting houses.” He had told her.
Not too long after the renovations started Robert and his wife began to hear things as well, but there was one incident that ran them out of the house forever. One night while sitting in the dining room eating ice-cream, a closet door that was nearby began to slowly rattle back and forth as if an intruder were on the other side fumbling around, trying to open it. After a few minutes of staring nervously at the the door, the sounds got louder, the door shook more violently and then suddenly it slammed open. Standing before the Lamont’s was the spirit of a man, lingering there within the doorframe. Without hesitation Mr. Lamont gripped his pistol and fired several shots through the man but surprisingly, he just vanished. That same night Robert and his wife quickly packed some bags, and Robert, who was once a skeptic, fled away from the haunted property never to return.
Like many haunted locations the mansion remained vacant for awhile, until eventually Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw purchased the property. (Then known by Land O’ Lakes natives as the Lamont Mansion) At first their stay was seemingly normal and they were very happy there with their children. After-all, it was a marvelous looking home on a hill that overlooked the lake. They finally felt at home when they too decided they wanted to do a little renovating, they began to hear clunking sounds across the walls at times and began to see a floating apparition of a dark-haired woman in white clothing that would only be viewable for a moment or two before vanishing before their eyes. They always felt like someone was watching them and they began to hear voices in empty rooms, just as previous claims of the home had been mentioned.
While the experiences were a bit uneasy for the Hinshaw’s, it wasn’t until they found a secret crawlspace that everything really began to take a dark turn. The space was too small for Arnold to crawl into so he asked his daughter Mary to do it. As she made her way into the darkness she stopped silently for a moment. Franticly, she screamed as she realized that she was touching a dead woman, with nothing left but the skeletal remains of an arm, legs and a skull that had long dirty black hair twisted around. Nobody knew who this woman may have been, or how long she had been in there. One thing was certain though, it was a striking resemblance to the spirit they had been encountering.
Shortly after the findings of the mysterious woman’s bones things at Lamont Mansion were a little different. Arnold who had a love for music would stay awake through all hours of the night playing his organ. His wife and children said that something about him had changed and they all slept in one room together to avoid him. They were too afraid to ask him to stop playing the dark melodies that he seemed to be stuck playing over and over. He told his wife once that he often wanted to stop playing but the demons in his head forced him to continue. He eventually suffered a full nervous breakdown and was admitted into an asylum for help. Soon after that, Ginger became uncontrollably sad and attempted suicide. These heavy feelings were affecting the family and it was clear they were no longer welcome.
The Hinshaw family moved from the mansion and soon afterwards Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, decided he wanted to purchase the mansion to turn it into a restaurant. Ginger begged him to leave the place alone but he wouldn’t listen to her. He hired many construction crews to help with the renovations but none of them would stay. They heard the voices and seen shadows in different rooms as well. The one thing that really threw the contractors and workers off was that when they’d measure a room to plan for adjustments, the room would be a different measurement every time. They began to claim that the house had a life of its own and obtained the ability to change itself, that the walls could change dimensions.
Unable to keep crews long enough to make any changes, Raymond was almost ready to give up and then there was one final event that broke the camel’s back. During his last visit he heard gunshots ring out from the dining room area. As he ran into the room to see what was going on, he could smell gun powder and noticed the closet door was open where Mr. Lamont once fired his pistol at a male spirit. He too thought he may have briefly encountered the spirit and may have witnessed energy from the history of the home, witnessing the day that Mr. Lamont shot at the ghost. Today we know this to be residual energy, in which something plays out over and over again that may have made an emotional or energetic imprint in time.
Raymond was a fictional writer, so this was a perfect opportunity to gain attention for a book. After doing some extensive research he claimed that the male spirit was a man named Jonathan Carver, who was looking for the deeds to land that he had negotiated for with the Sioux Indians. He wasn’t sure why Carver was at the mansion, which was once a fishing lodge… Or how the bones of a floating woman ended up in a crawl space, either. But one thing he was certain of, was that his book about the mansion and all of the hauntingly experiences that people had, would go down in history. His book made the location famous enough that it is known as the most haunted location in Wisconsin.
Abandoned, the town feared the mansion would become a gathering place for vandals or homeless people, so in 1985 the officials made an attempt to have the structure torn down. They didn’t follow through with the destruction of the mansion, however, three years later (June 19, 1988 ) — the mansion caught on fire and burned to the ground. Neighbors said they were awoken by the sounds of a storm and had seen lightning strike just outside their home that day. With no other explanation, people believe that lightning must have hit the mansion, causing the fire. By the time the fire department arrived they said that most of the mansion was already gone.
Today, all that remains of Summerwind Mansion are two chimney stacks, the foundation on the ground and some steps. In 2014 owners Harold and Babs Tracy and the Fox Valley Ghost Hunters were seeking funding to rebuild the mansion to its original state. They hoped to turn it into a bed and breakfast and like many other famously haunted locations, it would become a paranormal tourist attraction. We are unaware if they are still planning the rebuild, but we did read that one or more of the people involved with the project has backed out. Knowing the history of the home do you believe the mansion should be rebuilt? Would you stay the night if it was? Share our articles with your friends and see what they think about them. We depend on word-of-mouth to grow and hope you enjoy the content.
Until next time…
William C. Raustler