The ruins of Summerwind, formerly known as the Lamont Mansion, have become a legendary setting for supernatural stories and urban legends. Located on the shores of West Bay Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin, this abandoned mansion on private land is now closed to the public. But its reputation as a haunted house has been gaining notoriety over the years. While some of these supernatural tales may be pure fiction, the backstory of Summerwind has been documented and passed down through generations.
The mansion was built in the early 20th century as a fishing lodge and in 1916, it was purchased by Robert Patterson Lamont. According to some versions of the story, he employed Chicago architects for the remodeling, which took two years to complete. While it’s impossible to know what Lamont actually experienced while living in the mansion, there are a number of legends that circulated. One of the most popular accounts claims that Lamont fired a pistol at a ghost one night and was so frightened that he and his family abandoned the house.
Another version of the story claims that subsequent owners Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw were so disturbed by hauntings that Arnold suffered a “nervous breakdown” and Ginger attempted suicide. These stories may or may not be true, but they were popularized by Raymond Bober, Ginger’s father, who referred to the mansion as “Summerwind” and wrote a book called The Carver Effect: A Paranormal Experience about the mansion’s alleged hauntings. According to Bober’s narrative, the property was often unoccupied due to alleged supernatural activity and the Hinshaws couldn’t get workers to enter the home to do remodeling work.
However, locals claimed that the haunting stories began only after Bober’s book was published and that the supernatural tales were fabricated. In addition, they pointed out that Bober did not live in the mansion and never spent the night there. He instead lived in a trailer on the property.
Despite locals’ disbelief, the reputation of Summerwind as a haunted house spread throughout the nation. In 1979, a Life magazine photo essay titled “Terrifying Tales of Nine Haunted Houses” included Summerwind as one of the nine locations, which only served to further the supernatural tales.
In 1985, officials for the Town of Land O’ Lakes made an attempt to demolish the vacant home. But the attempt failed and the mansion was later destroyed by fire following a lightning strike on June 19, 1988. Fire officials reported that the fire was not suspicious and arson was not suspected since neighbors reported being awakened when lightning struck the vacant home. This didn’t stop people from attributing the fire to supernatural causes, furthering the legend of Summerwind.
Today, the ruins of Summerwind are still closed to the public, but its legend lives on. While the true story of the Lamont Mansion may never be known, it’s clear that the supernatural stories and legends that have circulated over the years will continue to fascinate and intrigue. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, the story of Robert Patterson Lamont and the Lamont Mansion will remain an intriguing part of Wisconsin history.