Went to Summerwind

 If a person was
forced to choose what the greatest ghost story in Wisconsin might be, it
would almost undoubtedly be the legend of Summerwind. This haunted
mansion has spawned more strange tales and stories that any other
location in the state. What dark secrets remain hidden in the ruins of
this once grand estate? Were the stories of ghostly encounters and
messages from beyond really true … or were they part of an elaborate
publicity hoax?

(Photo Courtesy of Todd

Located on the shores of West Bay
Lake, in the far northeast regions of Wisconsin, are the ruins of a once grand mansion
that was called Summerwind. The house is long gone now, but the memories remain … as do
the stories and legends of the inexplicable events that once took place there.
Summerwind is perhaps Wisconsin’s most haunted house, or at least it was, before fire
and the elements of nature destroyed her. Regardless, even the ravages of time cannot
destroy the haunted history of the house.
The mansion was built in 1916 by Robert P. Lamont as a summer home for he and his
family. Nestled on the shores of the lake, the house caught the cool breezes of northern
Wisconsin and provided a comfortable place for Lamont to escape the pressures of everyday
life in Washington D.C., as he would later go on to serve as the Secretary of Commerce
under President Herbert Hoover.But life was not always sublime at Summerwind
during the years of the Lamont family. For those who claim that the ghost stories of the
house were “created” in later years, they forget the original tale of Robert
Lamont’s encounter with a spirit. Legends of the house say that Lamont actually fired
a pistol at a ghost that he believed was an intruder. The bullet holes in the basement
door from the kitchen remained for many years.

Two photos taken at Summerwind the bullet holes that were fired into
the basement door by Robert Lamont! The legends say that he was shooting
at a ghost at the time!
(Photos courtesy of Todd Roll)
Upon the death of Robert Lamont, the house was sold … and sold again. It seemed that
nothing out of the ordinary really happened there, save for Lamont’s encounter with
the phantom intruder, until the early 1970’s. It was in this period that the family living
in the house was nearly destroyed … supposedly by ghosts.
Hinshaw, his wife
Ginger, and their six children, moved into Summerwind in the early part of the 1970’s.
They would only reside in the house for six months, but it would be an eventful period of
time.From the day that they moved in, they knew strange things were going on in the house. It
had been vacant for some time … but it had apparently been occupied by otherworldly
visitors. The Hinshaws, and their children, immediately started to report vague shapes and
shadows flickering down the hallways. They also claimed to hear mumbled voices in
darkened, empty rooms. When they would walk inside, the sounds would quickly stop. Most
alarming was the ghost of the woman who was often seen floating back and forth just past
some French doors that led off from the dining room.The family wondered if they were simply imagining things but continued events convinced
them otherwise. Appliances, a hot water heater and a water pump would mysteriously break
down and then repair themselves before a serviceman could be called.Windows and doors that were closed would reopen on their own. One particular window, which
proved especially stubborn, would raise and lower itself at all hours. Out of desperation,
Arnold drove a heavy nail through the window casing and it finally stayed closed.

On one occasion, Arnold walked out to his car to go to work and the vehicle suddenly burst
into flames. No one was near it and it is unknown whether the source of the fire was
supernatural in origin or not, but regardless, no cause was ever found for it.

Despite the strange activity, the Hinshaws wanted to make the best of the historic
house so they decided to hire some men to make a few renovations. It was most common for
the workers to not show up for work, usually claiming illness, although a few of them
simply told her that they refused to work on Summerwind … which was reputed to be
That was when the Hinshaws gave up and decided to try and do all of the work themselves.
One day they began painting a closet in one of the bedrooms. A large shoe drawer was
installed in the closet’s back wall and Arnold pulled it out so that he could paint
around the edges of the frame. When he did, he noticed that there seemed to be a large,
dark space behind the drawer.Ginger brought him a flashlight and he wedged himself into the narrow opening as far as
his shoulders. He looked around with the flashlight and then suddenly jumped back,
scrambling away from the opening. He was both frightened and disgusted … there was some
sort of corpse jammed into the secret compartment!Believing that an animal had crawled in there and died many years ago, Arnold tried to
squeeze back in for a closer look. He couldn’t make out much of anything, so when the
children came home from school, he recruited his daughter Mary to get a better look. Mary
took the flashlight and crawled inside. Moments later, she let out a scream … it was a
human corpse! She uncovered a skull, still bearing dirty black hair, a brown arm and a
portion of a leg.
Why the Hinshaws never contacted the authorities about this body is unknown. Was the
story concocted later to fit into the tales of “haunted”
Summerwind? Or was
their reasoning the truth … that the body had been the result of a crime that took place
many years ago, far too long for the police to do anything about it now.Had they been thinking things through, they might have realized that this body might have
been the cause of much of the supernatural activity in the house … removing it might
have laid the ghost to rest, so to speak.Regardless, they left the corpse where they found it … but it will figure into our story
once again.

Shortly after the discovery of the body in the hidden compartment, things started to
take a turn for the worse at Summerwind.

Arnold began staying up very late at night and playing a Hammond organ that the couple
had purchased before moving into the house. He had always enjoyed playing the organ, using
it as a form of relaxation, but his playing now was different. His playing became a
frenzied mixture of melodies that seemed to make no sense, and grew louder as the night
wore on. Ginger pleaded with him to stop but Arnold claimed the demons in his head
demanded that he play. He often crashed the keys on the organ until dawn, frightening his
wife and children so badly that they often huddled together in one bedroom, crying and
cowering in fear.Arnold had a complete mental breakdown and at the same time, Ginger attempted suicide.
Were the stories of strange events at Summerwind merely the result of two disturbed
minds? It might seem so … but what about the children? They also reported the ghostly
encounters. Were they simply influenced by their parents questionable sanity … or were
the stories real?The family’s connection with the house would continue for years to come.
While Arnold was sent away for treatment, Ginger and the children moved to
Wisconsin to live with Ginger’s parents. Ginger and Arnold would eventually be
divorced when it looked as though Arnold’s hopes for recovery were failing. Ginger
later recovered her health, away from Summerwind at last, and she married a man named
George Olsen.Things seemed to be going quite well for her in her new peaceful life, until a few years
later, when her father announced that he was going to buy Summerwind.Raymond Bober was a popcorn vendor and businessman who with his wife Marie, planned to
turn the old mansion into a restaurant and an inn. He believed that the house would
attract many guests to the scenic location on the lake.They had no idea what had happened to their daughter in the house.

Ginger was horrified at her parent’s decision. She had never given them all of the
details about what had happened during the six months that she had lived in the house and
she refused to do so now. What she did do was to beg them not to buy
Summerwind.Bober’s mind was made up however. He announced that he realized the house was
haunted, but this would not deter him. He claimed that he had spent time at the house and
knew the identity of the ghost that was haunting the place.According to Bober, the ghost was a man named Jonathan Carver, an eighteenth century
British explorer who was haunting the house and searching for an old deed that had been
given to him by the Sioux Indians. In the document, he supposedly had the rights to the
northern third of Wisconsin. The deed had supposedly been placed in a box and sealed into
the foundation of Summerwind. Bober claimed that Carver had asked his help in finding it.Bober wrote a book about his experiences at Summerwind and his communications with Carver
through dreams, trances and a Ouija board. The book was published in 1979 under the name
of Wolffgang von Bober and was called THE CARVER EFFECT. It is currently out-of-print and
very hard to find.

Shortly after Bober bought the house, he, his son Karl, Ginger and her new husband,
George, spent a day exploring and looking over the house. The group had wandered through
the place and as they were leaving the second floor, George spotted the closet where the
secret compartment was hidden. He began pulling out the drawers and looking behind them,
although Ginger begged for him to stop.

George was confused. He had simply been curious as to what might be in the drawers. Up
until then, Ginger had never told anyone about finding the body behind the closet. Sitting
in the kitchen later, she would tell them everything.

After hearing the story, the men rushed back upstairs and returned to the closet.
Ginger’s brother, Karl, climbed into the space with a light and looked around. In a
few moments, he climbed back out … it was empty!

Bober and George also inspected the small space and found nothing. Where had the corpse
gone? Had it been removed, either by natural or supernatural forces?

Or, most importantly, had it ever really been there at all?

Toward the end of that Summer, Karl traveled alone to the old house. He had gone to get
a repair estimate on some work to be done on the house and to check with someone about
getting rid of the bats which were inhabiting the place. He also planned to do some yard
work and to get the place cleaned up a little.It started to rain the first day that he was there and he began closing some of the
windows. He was upstairs, in the dark hallway, and heard a voice call his name. He looked
around but there was no one there. Karl closed the window and went downstairs. He walked
into the front room and heard what sounded like two pistol shots! He ran into the kitchen
and found the room filled with smoke and the acrid smell of gunpowder … apparently
someone had fired a gun inside of the house!Karl searched the place, finding the doors locked and undisturbed. There appeared to be no
one inside and he returned to the kitchen. He began looking around the room and discovered
two bullet holes in the door leading down to the basement. He examined them closely and
realized that they were not new holes at all … but old bullet holes that had worn smooth
around the edges.They were apparently holes left behind from Robert Lamont’s encounter with a ghost in
the kitchen. Perhaps events from the past were replaying themselves at

No matter what the explanation, it was enough for Karl and he left the house that

The plans to turn the house into a restaurant did not go smoothly. Workmen refused to
stay on the job, complaining of tools disappearing and feelings as if they were being
watched. Marie Bober agreed with their complaints. She was always uneasy in the house and
frequently told people that she felt as if she was followed from place to place whenever
she was inside.Most disturbing to Bober however was the apparent shrinkage and expansion of the house.
Bober would measure rooms one day and then find that they were a different size the next
day. Usually, his measurements were larger than those given in the blueprints of the house
… sometime greatly larger. At one point, Bober estimated that he could seat 150 people
in his restaurant but after laying out his plans on the blueprints of
Summerwind, he
realized that the place could seat half that many.Photographs that were taken of the house, using the same camera and taken only seconds
apart, also displayed the variations of space. The living room was said to show the
greatest enlargement.Bober compared his photos of the living room with those that Ginger had taken when she and
Arnold moved in. Ginger’s photos showed curtains on the windows that she took with
her when she moved out. The curtains were physically absent in the room that Bober
photographed … but somehow they appeared in his photos!

Like the incident involving Karl and the pistol shots, could Summerwind be a place where
time inexplicably repeats itself? Perhaps the place wasn’t haunted at all, but
instead, was a mysterious site where time was distorted in ways that we cannot understand.
Perhaps the shadows and figures that were seen could have been people or images from the
past (or the future) and perhaps the sound of someone calling Karl’s name would
happen in reality … several months later.

We will never know for sure now, but the idea is something worth considering.

Eventually, the project was abandoned and Bober would never see the dream of his
restaurant and inn. Strangely though, despite his claims that he was an earthly companion
of the ghostly Jonathan Carver, the Bobers never spent the night inside of the house. They
chose instead to sleep in an RV that they parked on the grounds. Also strange was the fact
that Carver (if the ghost existed) chose to manifest himself in such malevolent ways …
especially if he was looking for help in finding his deed.Bober’s explanation for this was that Carver resented anyone living in the house or
trying to renovate the place, at least until the deed was found. Bober spent many days
searching the basement for where the deed might be hidden, chipping the foundation and
peering into dark holes and crevices.To this day, the mysterious deed has never been found.
Summerwind (Photo Courtesy of Todd Roll)
In the years that followed Bober’s abandonment of Summerwind, a number of skeptics
came forward to poke holes in some of Bober’s claims. Many of their counter-claims,
however, have been nearly as easy to discredit as some of Bober’s original ones.Obviously, we are never going to know for sure if Summerwind was really haunted. The house
is gone now and we are left with only the claims, reports and witness accounts of Bober
and his family.We can examine the claims of the family, and the skeptics, and try to make sense of it
In 1983, a freelance writer named Will Pooley set out to gather the facts behind the
story and discredit it. His research claimed that even if Bober had found Carver’s
deed, it would have been worthless. He based these findings on the fact that the British
government ruled against an individual’s purchase of Indian land and also that the
Sioux had never claimed land west of the Mississippi River.First of all, the land was not sold to Carver, it was given to him in return for
assistance that he had given to the Indians, so British law would not have ruled against
this. On the other subject, the Sioux Indians were not a single tribe, they were an entire
nation, made up of many different tribes. It is possible, and very likely, that one tribe
that belonged to the Sioux nation could have lived in Wisconsin. The white settlers pushed
the Indians further and further west and as this particular tribe abandoned their lands,
they could have deeded them to Carver.Pooley also argued that the deed to the property had been located in the old land office
in Wausau, Wisconsin in the 1930’s and that it is unlikely that Carver even journeyed as
far north as West Bay Lake.But would he have had to have traveled to northern Wisconsin to hold a deed to the land?
And why would there not have been another deed filed for that piece of land? Someone could
have claimed it many years later, not even realizing that Carver already held the title to

He also argued that the deed could have never been placed in the foundation of the house
anyway … Summerwind had been built more than 130 years after Carver died. To this, it
can only be argued that many events of the supernatural world go unexplained.

One man that Pooley did talk to however, was Herb Dickman of Land ‘O Lakes, Wisconsin. He
had helped pour the foundation for the house in 1916 and recalled that nothing had been
placed in the foundation … a box containing a deed or anything else.
So, who really knows?

Apparently, Bober was not always the most credible person either. Residents who lived
close to Summerwind said that Bober spent less than two summers at the estate. After
abandoning plans for the restaurant, he tried to get a permit to operate a concession
stand near the house but local ordinances prohibited this. Perhaps he was planning the
idea of tours of the “haunted” house … and idea that would come along a little
later.There was even some uncertainty as to whether or not Bober even owned
Summerwind. One area
resident told Pooley that Bober had tried to buy the house on a contract-for-deed but the
deal had fallen through. The house had been abandoned and no one laid claim to it, save
for the bank, and they never realized what Bober was up to out there.
This story has never been verified however and it cannot be proven that Bober did not own
the place.So how much of the story that Bober wrote about in his book is true? Was the house really
haunted, or was the story of the haunting merely a part of a scheme by Raymond Bober to
draw crowds to a haunted restaurant?
Those who live near the house claim that the idea that it is haunted has all come from
the fact that the mansion was abandoned and from Bober’s wild claims. But what else
would they say?These neighbors have often made it very clear that they resent the strangers who have come
to the property, tramping over their lawns and knocking on their doors. They say that the
chartered buses that once came and dumped would-be ghost hunters onto the grounds of
Summerwind were also unwelcome. These are the last people to ask for an objective opinion
on whether this house is actually haunted.So there remains the mystery … was Summerwind really haunted? No one knows and if they
do, they aren’t saying.
The house was completely abandoned in the early 1980’s and fell deeper and deeper into
ruin. Bats had already taken up residence years before and the house became a virtual
shell, resting there in a grove of pines. The windows were shattered and the doors hung
open, inviting nature’s destructive force inside.
In 1986, the house was purchased by three investors who apparently thought that they could
make a go of the place again. But it was not to be … forces greater than man had other
ideas. Summerwind was struck by lightning during a terrible storm in June of 1988 and
burned to the ground.Today, only the foundations, the stone chimneys and perhaps the ghosts remain …

summerwind.gif (49013 bytes)
Ruins of Summerwind
(Photo Courtesy of Stacy McArdle)

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