Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spirits of Summerwind Mansion - West Bay Lake at Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin

In 1916 Robert Lamont purchased a lodge on West Bay Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin.  The lodge was built in the 1800s to house those who went on fishing excursions onto the lake.  Lamont however, had other plans.  He embarked on a project to extensively remodel and expand the lodge and two years later the former fishing lodge became known as Lamont Mansion, a summer home for Robert Lamont and his family.  And over a century later it would be known by another name, Summerwind, the most haunted place in Wisconsin as it was plagued by a series of troubles over its lifetime.

Summerwind Mansion before it burned to the ground in 1988.  Photo courtesy Todd Roll @

Legend has it that in the 1800s a man named Jonathan Carver, a British explorer claimed that he was deeded the rights not only to the land the Lamont Mansion was now located on, but to the northern third of Wisconsin. The deed was supposedly given to him by a tribe of Sioux that had lived there. The deed had been placed in a box and placed into the foundation of what was now the Lamont Mansion.  However, Carver could never find the deed.  He eventually died having never found the documentation that would prove his rights to the land he was given.

West Bay Lake in Land o Lakes Wisconsin

After Robert Lamont moved into his newly remodeled mansion, his housekeepers would tell him that the home was haunted.  Lamont would dismiss their complaints claiming there were no such things as ghosts.  This went on for the fifteen years that the Lamont's lived in the summer home until one day in the 1930s, Robert and his wife were in the kitchen.  Apparently, the door to the basement began to rumble and make noise then started shaking violently as if someone were trying to get out.  It then burst open and there emerging from the basement was the apparition of a man.  In a panic, Robert Lamont grabbed his pistol and opened fire on the phantom having no results but leaving holes in the basement door.  Lamont and his wife fled the mansion never to return.

In the early 1940s, the mansion was sold to the Keefer family and it was then it took on it's new name, Summerwind Mansion. A short while later Mr. Keefer died and his wife then subdivided the property and sold it.  The mansion itself changed hands several times, but financial difficulties would always ensue and it would end up back in the possession of Mrs. Keefer.

A dilapidated Summerwind Mansion before it was destroyed by lightening

Summerwind was bought by Arnold Hinshaw in the 1970s, he moved in with his wife Ginger and their children.  From the start both Arnold and Ginger as well as their children noticed events that were out of the ordinary and had witnessed shadow figures in the hallways of the home.  They would hear disembodied voices frequently in empty rooms which would disappear as soon as they would enter.  An actual full bodied apparition of a woman was seen occasionally in the dining room as well.  On one occasion, Arnold was leaving for work and as he was walking out to his car it randomly exploded!  What topped things off was when they were painting one of the rooms and discovered a secret panel behind a set of built-in drawers.  Too large to fit into the space, they sent their daughter into the crawl space to investigate and shortly after she let out a terrifying scream.  She had discovered the remains of a human body!  Strangely enough, the Hinshaw's were so worked up they did not even notify authorities nor make any attempt to have the body removed.  

The foundation of Summerwind is part of all that remains of the once grand mansion

It was after this that Arnold began to go mad.  He would stay up all hours of the night playing his organ that he enjoyed playing in his free time.  His playing soon became dark and ominous as he would pound on the keys.  His family pleaded with him to stop, however he claimed that voices in his head demanded that he play.  Eventually Ginger had him committed to an asylum for treatment and moved back in with her parents.  The Hinshaws lived in Summerwind for a grand total of six months.

Shortly afterward, Ginger's father Raymond Bober, knowing of the haunted history of Summerwind, planned to buy the mansion and turn it into an inn and restaurant.  Ginger protested this plan, but never told him of the body that was hidden in the mansion.  Bober went through with his plan and bought the mansion.  Ginger, having divorced her husband Arnold, visited the inside of the mansion with her new husband.   He investigated the space where the body was discovered previously and to their surprise, it was no longer there!  

The remains of Summerwind mansion are now enveloped by the pines the once surrounded it

During his time at Summerwind, Bober claimed to have communicated with the main spirit haunting the place.  Raymond revealed that the spirit was Jonathan Carver and that it was unhappy because he never found the deeds he was looking for.  Bober himself spend many hours in the basement and around the foundation of the house looking for Carver's missing deed.  In the meantime, the conversion of the mansion to a restaurant did not go as smoothly as planned as the workmen refused to spend any length of time at the site due to its haunted nature as they themselves experienced strange happenings.  

The foundation and chimneys are all that remains of Summerwind Mansion

Bober had to give up on turning the mansion into a restaurant and finally sold Summerwind in 1986, two years later the mansion was struck by lightening and burned to the ground.  However, many believe that as long as the foundation of the once grand structure is still in place and the missing deeds go unfounded, the ghosts of Summerwind will forever haunt the grounds where it once stood.

The ruins of Summerwind Mansion at West Bay Lake at Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin

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