Saturday, June 13, 2009

In Search of the Elusive Summerwind: Investigating Wisconsin's Most Haunted House

Who: My husband and I
When: Summer of 2004
Where: Land O Lakes, WI (on the WI / MI border)
Why: To hopefully locate and visit the ruins of Summerwind.

The (Brief) Background Information

I have been interested in visiting Summerwind for years. Ever since I read a story of the events that occurred there in I believe it was Haunted Heartland. So, when I found out I'd be in the area of Summerwind I jumped at the chance to try to locate and investigate

Summerwind has quite the reputation for the haunted Wisconsin area, it's said to have made a family go insane, to have made a man fire a gun at a ghost (the bullet holes would remain in the door for years afterward, until it was eventually stolen from the home). It also was said to be built over a deed that the ghost of a man named Carver is said to still look for in the afterlife. How much of this is fact and how much is legend is about anyone's guess. There's been theories that Carver never even ventured to that area of Wisconsin. And others yet say there were searches carried out for this deed and nothing was turned up.

Summerwind sat abandoned for years. It's reputation most likely the reasoning for it. Back in the day, it was a sprawling mansion and home to the secretary to president Hoover. Years after standing abandoned someone bought it. They had plans to fix it up and make it into a business. Apparently the spirits had other intentions. In 1988 Summerwind was struck by lighting in a storm and it burned to the ground. All that is left is a couple staircases, a foundation and a couple chimneys for the most part... and the spirits.

Finding Summerwind

Summerwind was incredibly difficult to find. It hides down a dirt road in the country wooded area of Land O Lakes on what is now private property. You pretty much need to know exactly where it is to locate it and even then it doesn't look like anything at all from the road. We, however got really lucky and managed to have someone guide us to it. If it wasn't for her, we would have come back without having found it like so many before us have done.
We stopped to a few places in town (the town is pretty bare - not too many places around to even ask at). We really didn't get too terribly far. We did get a bit of info to get us in the area of it, and then we were referred to stop at a camp for more information there.

We did exactly as instructed watching as the woods grew thicker around us. We knew we were in for an ordeal to locate it from the get go, but I don't think either of us knew just how hard it really would be to find. Well, we stopped at the camp and got out of the car. It was a quaint camp
at the edge of the lake with a small bar and restaurant onsite. My husband, Clint immediately recognized the camp from before. He said he'd dreamed of it before, but he had never been there or even in that area before then. He proceeded to say he thought Summerwind was behind us and to the left; you know, he was right about that.

We went inside and asked where Summerwind was. We figured the folks in there must have heard of it being so close to it and all. Well the one bartender didn't know it by name but once we said it was the haunted place she knew exactly where it was. She told us how to get there, and said if we have any trouble some back there. Well, we set off where she told us to go - or at least how we thought she told us to go. We were lost before we started. We also were afraid of getting so lost we would not find our way back out again. The woods were fairly thick and getting thicker. So, we drove back to the bar and informed her we were totally lost as to how to find it. She offered to take us there if we'd be willing to wait for her shift to end. We agreed.

Getting to Summerwind

We got to Summerwind easily with her, but I'm telling you we kept track of every turn so we knew how to get back out. It was much harder than we even imagined it'd be to find, but we found it. Even she had to check to make sure it was the right place once she stopped.

Summerwind is fairly large. It's in ultimate ruins and there's really not much left, as you can see in the photos. Even still I had vibes while there. My husband, who had vibes where it was and had a case of déjà vu at the camp felt nothing at all at Summerwind itself. I, however felt nothing at the camp but perhaps some anxiety if we'd even locate the place or not, but I had vibes at Summerwind itself.

The hot spots - or at least according to my vibes were under the arches which led out to the back yard which was a ledge that overlooked a river, and the staircase to the second floor. Not so coincidentally, I got some odd photos in each of those places. (I concentrate and take photos
where any odd vibes are felt).We weren't at Summerwind long. Maybe fifteen or twenty minutes or so. I came back with a camera full of 40 photos and so I thought nothing at all supernatural on any of them. Boy was I wrong.

Looking at the Photos

We went back to the cabin we were staying at and looked over the photos. We both looked over each one on the tiny LCD screen my camera was equipped with and found nothing. It was a bit disappointing what with all the vibes we got, but it's a chance you take when you investigate a place. More times than not you get ordinary photos. It's just the way it is.

We late loaded them into our PC and then looked at them again larger. A friend noted the ball of light under the arch which we originally thought was a sun spot - until we realized that was much brighter than all of the other sunspots on the ruins. Not to mention a sunspot can't reach under a dark arch and usually isn't glowing like this light was. Then, my mom noticed a man staring back at her from one of the photos. He jumped right out at her. It took me a long time to see him but when I did a shiver ran the length of my spine. To see those eyes looking back at me.. it was a feeling I won't soon forget. The detail in the man is astounding. You can see the difference between the color of his skin and his shirt. You can nearly make out facial features and a vague hairstyle. Who he is, we may never know. I did try to locate photos of the previous residents of Summerwind. The best I was able to come up with was a photo of Robert Lamont in his older years. Even still the man did not match the face I saw in Lamont. After that we located the critter we originally thought to be a fox-like creature sitting by the fireplace of the left chimney. He's a bit difficult to see but if you look you can see 'em in there. (It's easier to see it from further away).

The Discovery Channel's A Haunting

A year or so after we visited Summerwind the Discovery Channel aired an episode of A Haunting that featured Summerwind. We learned a lot of information we didn't know about the house and it's history in this episode. Some very interesting information at that.

In this episode we learned that Summerwind has, or it at least had a tendency and ability to call out to people. To make them come to it and feel for it. It's possible my husband's vibes and his dreams could have been a form of this. Or perhaps it's something totally unrelated. We may never know for sure. We also learned that the father whilst in his insanity killed a pet raccoon the family had. We looked back over the photo of that critter. I sure could pass for a raccoon as well. Once again we may never know.

Speaking To Chad Lewis

Chad Lewis is one half of the team responsible for the Haunted Road Guide series of books. We've had a few chances to meet him and Terry and see him speak. He never disappoints with his appearances and each and everyone you take a little information back with you. It was at one of these lectures that we learned that others he has interviewed have had similar experiences of the house calling to them, and knowing where it is, but they'd never been there before.

For those, like myself who are wondering, no, he did not experience anything out of the ordinary at Summerwind. What we do know is that at least for us. Summerwind lived up to it's reputation as Wisconsin's most haunted house. I'd love to return there, but it's private property and, well we can't trespass on it now.
Report from: Jennifer N