Summerwind, formerly known as Lamont Mansion, is a ruined mansion on the shores of West Bay Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin. It is reputed to be one of the most haunted locations in the state. As a result of abandonment, the elements, and fire, little of the mansion currently remains standing.
Summerwind was constructed during the early 20th century as a fishing lodge. In 1916 it was purchased by Robert Patterson Lamont, who employed Chicago architects Tallmadge and Watson to substantially remodel the property and convert it into a mansion. The renovations took two years to complete, and led to the near total reconstruction of significant portions of the property.
Lamont remained in Summerwind for approximately 15 years, during which time the maids told Lamont that the mansion was haunted, but he did not believe them as the building was too new. However, he is then reported to have abandoned the property suddenly in the mid-1930s after witnessing an apparition in the mansion’s kitchen. Local legend holds that he and his wife were eating dessert in the kitchen, when the door to the basement started to shake open, revealing the ghostly form of a man. Robert Lamont was reported to have taken one look at the ghost, and pulled out a pistol. The ghost swung the door shut and Lamont squeezed off two shots in its direction, before fleeing the residence with his wife.
After remaining vacant for 40 years, the house became the residence of Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw and their four children, who moved in during the summer of 1969. It is from this time onwards that most of the haunting reports originate.
After taking up residence, the Hinshaws reported a number of strange occurrences, ranging from flickering shadows that appeared to move down the hallways and soft voices that stopped when they entered rooms, to unexplained electrical/mechanical problems and sash windows that raised themselves. They also reported seeing the ghost of an unidentified woman who appeared several times in the vicinity of the house’s dining room.
Urban legend holds that after experiencing extended difficulties retaining workmen the Hinshaws decided to renovate the house themselves. During these renovations, Arnold is said to have removed a shoe drawer from a fitted closet and discovered a hidden recess behind it. In that recess Arnold discovered what he at first took to be the remains of an animal. However, because of the cramped entrance, he could not be certain of what he had seen. Later that day, he sent his daughter Mary into the recess to see what the unidentified object really was, only for Mary to discover a human skull and strands of black hair. No report of the find was ever made to the police and the veracity of the legend has never been determined.The body was reported to have vanished when Ginger’s father and brother investigated the recess several years later.
Within six months of moving into Summerwind, Arnold suffered a breakdown. He began to wander the mansion at night and play the Hammond organ in a maddening way, claiming voices in his head ordered him to do so. During this time, Ginger attempted suicide. Arnold was sent for treatment and Ginger moved in with her parents in Granton, Wisconsin. The land, once again, reverted to Mrs. Keefer.
Years later, Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, announced plans to buy Summerwind and turn it into a restaurant with the help of his wife, Marie, and son, Karl. The Bober’s attempts to renovate the house suffered from many of the same problems as the Hinshaw’s attempt. Bober’s son Karl; who traveled to the house alone in order to arrange estimates and pest control work, also reported a variety of unnerving events including voices and an apparent supernatural reenactment of the alleged 1930s Lamont incident.
At this time, workmen also reported feeling uncomfortable and complained of missing tools and other happenings. One example is that when they attempted to draw blueprints, the dimensions of the house would change, with some rooms producing larger measurements on some days than on others. Photographs taken of the same location, on the same film, were also said to show a single room as several different sizes. even if they were taken seconds apart, or to show furnishings that had been in the room when the Hinshaws had lived there, but which had since been removed.
In June 1988, Summerwind was struck by lightning several times, resulting in a fire that destroyed much of the mansion.Today, only the house’s chimney stacks, foundations, and stone steps remain.