Situated on the shores of West Bay Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin, Summerwind, previously known as Lamont Mansion, stands as a dilapidated structure with restricted access to the public. Its eerie reputation as a haunted house has been fueled by various urban legends and ghost stories prevalent in popular culture.
Constructed in the early 20th century as a fishing lodge, the mansion was later acquired by Robert Patterson Lamont, a US Secretary of Commerce, in 1916. The property underwent a two-year remodeling project under the supervision of Chicago architects Tallmadge and Watson.
Reports suggest that Lamont and his family encountered paranormal activities within the mansion, including doors mysteriously opening and closing, strange noises, and apparitions. Legend has it that Lamont even fired a pistol at a ghost emerging from the basement, prompting him to hastily leave the premises with his family. The bullet holes from that night remained visible for years.
Abandoned until the 1970s, the mansion found new owners in Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw, who attempted its renovation. Their experiences included electrical malfunctions, vanishing tools, self-opening and closing windows, and furniture moving on its own. Arnold reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown, and Ginger attempted suicide. Their daughter, Mary, claimed to have discovered human remains in a concealed crawl space, yet no police report or official discovery followed.
The Enigmatic Tale of Jonathan Carver
Summerwind is entwined with the legend of Jonathan Carver, an 18th-century explorer believed to have buried a land deed in the vicinity, encompassing the mansion’s location. Popularized by Raymond Bober, Ginger Hinshaw’s father, in his 1979 book, “The Carver Effect: A Paranormal Experience,” the tale revolves around Bober’s alleged ownership of the mansion and encounters with Carver’s spirit. Bober also claimed the mansion could change shape and dimensions, with other ghosts and demons haunting the premises.
However, Bober’s assertions faced skepticism, with neighbors denying his residence in the mansion and questioning the validity of the haunting stories, which seemed to coincide with the publication of his book. Historians also cast doubt on the existence and legitimacy of Carver’s deed, never found or verified.
The Mansion’s Unfortunate End
In the 1980s, a group of investors aimed to transform the mansion into a tourist attraction, mirroring the struggles of previous owners. Faced with difficulties, including worker resignations, equipment malfunctions, and paranormal activities, they failed to secure necessary permits and approvals from local authorities.
The mansion met its tragic fate in the summer of 1988 when lightning struck, reducing it to ashes. Although deemed accidental, speculation lingered that the mansion’s curse was the cause. Today, privately owned and off-limits to the public, Summerwind continues to attract adventurous trespassers who claim to witness supernatural phenomena, adding to its mystique as Wisconsin’s most haunted place.