Here's Why We're Afraid of Old Victorian Mansions

Decaying Victorian mansions have been the thing of horrors for more than a century, with the mere visage of such an abode striking fear into the hearts of many. The folks over at Vox shed some light on why the homes earned such a horrifying legacy that led to its incorporation into so many tales of terror.

The late 19th century saw a rise in these ornate mansions being built, thanks in large part to the industrial revolution leading Americans to amass wealth beyond their wildest dreams. Many of these newly wealthy individuals took inspiration from mansions in the UK and brought that style to the states, resulting in numerous mansions popping up all across the country.

This newfound wealth coincided with these individuals having a lot more free time, exploring the burgeoning movement of spiritualism. Seances became a popular pastime, with groups of rich individuals coming together in impressive mansions in hopes of contacting spirits.

Shortly after the creation of many of these mansions, America was hit with the worst economic downturn in history, birthing the Great Depression. This forced many of these mansions to become abandoned, with the homes being subjected to the decay of time. The big question remained if all the spirits conjured by the former wealthy inhabitants had also abandoned the home or if they made these residences their permanent haunting grounds.

The above history of Victorian mansions isn't what runs through everyone's minds when we see such a home, though the history likely led to the mansions regularly being incorporated into so many horror stories and films in the early part of the 20th century. The more stories took place there, the more the creepy conception was solidified, ultimately leading to why so many people feel uneasy witnessing such a house.

One of the more popular depictions of a creepy mansion in recent memory is Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House, which was inspired by Shirley Jackson's novel of the same name. The interior of the ornate house was a set constructed specifically for the show, with director Mike Flanagan using Bisham Manor in LaGrange, Georgia for the fictional exterior.


"We scouted for about a month and a half trying to find our Hill House, which is a struggle in the south because everything looks like this sprawling southern plantation. Then we just found this house that was so weird, it’s so schizophrenic in its architecture," Flanagan shared with Den of Geek. "Our location scouts literally stumbled upon it out there in the woods. The whole crew piled in a van to go look at it, I remember getting out and walking a slow circle around it the first time, it seemed to evoke everything that I felt when I was reading the book. That his house was just off, it was schizophrenic. The more you looked at it the less sense it made. That was just a very fortunate find for us."

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