There’s nothing more eerie than the abandoned house in disrepair, with ghostly stories following its legend for decades. Teenagers dare each other to enter the house, maybe they even get too frightened to stay. Maybe they’re told to steer clear of the aging home, partially for safety but also to keep the ghosts that call it home at bay. Today, we’re covering a house on the shores of West Bay Lake that’s haunting reputation followed it even into disrepair and ruin, with a hefty side of alleged arson. Let’s explore the former glory of the Summerwind Mansion in Wisconsin.
Summerwind was built originally as a cabin near the lake, a getaway for a local man in the 1900s. It would be purchased and renovated into a mansion in the 1910s by its most famous owner, Robert Patterson Lamont. The mansion would sometimes also be known by the name “Lamont’s Castle.” Legends say that the owner of the mansion would fire a pistol at a ghost one night, leading to his abandonment of the home out of fright. Future owners would deal with the same haunting activities and nearly lose their own lives because of it.
The frightening history of this haunted mansion continued with future owners, including the purchase of the home by Raymond Bober, who some say purchased the home to keep it abandoned and keep the spirits at bay. Others say he purchased it after hearing the paranormal stories and not believing them, until one night spent in the mansion proved to be too much and it was again vacated in the middle of the night. Rober asserted that the floorplan of the home would shift and change as he walked through the house, and that spirits followed him to the trailer he lived on next to the property, too frightened to sleep alone in the Summerwind Mansion.
Construction workers hired to help renovate the house would often refuse to enter the house, citing bad energy and frightening occurrences while they worked on the renovations throughout the home. Some renovators even claimed their equipment was being moved in the middle of the night, sometimes in completely different rooms than they had left them the night before. Tools would go missing or be thrown across the room, once shattering a mirror on the wall of the parlor room while stunned workers stared, screamed, and ran.
Stories of the hauntings of this mansion continued for decades, with some kids daring each other to enter the active home and search for ghosts. Still more people came and went as paranormal investigators, capturing evidence along the way. The mansion was featured on several TV shows as the most haunted place in Wisconsin, and a hotspot for ghost hunters to stay overnight. In disrepair and crumbling, the nearby city of Land O’Lakes attempted to bulldoze the building for safety as it crumbled on its foundation. Before they could demolish the home, however, tragedy would strike.
One night in 1988, what’s been reported as a lightning strike caught the Summerwind Mansion on fire and destroyed most of the building as the blaze raged. It burned to the ground, with neighbors reporting they could hear the lightning from miles away. Still more questions are raised about the fire, however, as some locals believe it to have been arson to end the reign of terror of the most haunted home in the state. Others say that teenagers who used the dilapidated house as a hang out may have left a fire burning, but the most likely explanation is the natural force of lightning ending the reign of the Summerwind Mansion.
The ruins are on private property and not open to the public, but occasional ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts have been granted permission to explore the ruins. Many say that the activity is just as frequent as when the home still stood, with apparitions and EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) being captured at the foundation. Today, the mansion is inaccessible, but that doesn’t stop the local legends and stories from bleeding into the collective consciousness of those who live nearby, and those with the experiences of the original home before its destruction.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.