Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ep. 276 - Schenck Mansion Bed and Breakfast

Moment in Oddity - Victor's Way

Victor's Way is an adult contemplative park found near Roundwood, County Wicklow, Ireland. The privately owned 9-hectare garden is full of paths and black granite sculptures and was dedicated to cryptographer Alan Turing. The sculptures found in this park and quite unusual. Eight of the statues feature the Hindu elephant god Ganesha doing various activities like reading, playing instruments and dancing and there's even a small pint of Guinness next to one of them. One of the Ganesha statues has a little mouse standing behind it in street clothes complete with baseball cap and fanny pack. One of the creepier sculptures is named the Fasting Buddha and it basically is a skeleton in the lotus position. There is a large python-shaped seat and a young male statue that has its head split as an icon to indecision. The Shiva Lingam is a large finger pointing to the sky. The Ferryman's End is creepy looking too featuring a man who is relative skin and bones in murky water up to his chest and appearing in great distress. For a contemplative park that should bring one peace, Victor's Way sure has some creepy and disturbing statues and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Lascaux Cave Discovered

In the month of September, on the 12th, in 1940, four teenage boys exploring a fox den near Montignac discover the Lascaux Cave. The Lascaux Cave contained murals with a menagerie of animals including enormous bulls, horses and deer and there was one rare image of a human. The artwork numbered 600 pieces and was dated back to the Paleolithic period, circa 18,000 years ago. The paintings covered the walls and ceiling. The teenage boys who made the discovery were Marcel Ravidat, Gerorges Agniel, Simon Coencas and Jacques Marsal. It was decided toopen the cave complex to the general public on July 14, 1948. The cave was a huge draw for tourists and by 1955, the paintings were suffering damage from carbon dioxide and humidity that was generated by the 1,200 visitors per day coming to see the wall paintings. Added to this was fungi and lichen that began to spread across the cave walls. It got so bad that the cave was closed to the public in 1963. The paintings have since been restored to their original state and are monitored daily, but no one is allowed to visit save for a couple of scientists on occasion. The Lascaux Cave is considered the finest of all prehistoric painted caves made by Cro Magnons man and was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Schenck Mansion (Suggested by: Patricia Emmenegger Groce)

The former Benjamin Schenck Mansion in Vevay, Indiana is today known as the Schenck Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn. The two story Second Empire-style mansion has over 8,000 square feet of living space and is furnished with antique and reproduction furniture. The home was built over 144 years ago and has had multiple owners and served a variety of purposes. Today, it not only welcomes guests, but reputedly is quite haunted. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Schenck Mansion!

Vevay (Vee Vee), Indiana is a traditional small mid-western town situated along the Ohio River. This episode is dropping right before October begins here in 2018, so I would be remiss if I did not mention their Sleepy Hollow Festival on October 13th, featuring booths, costume contests, pumpkin carving contests and a scavenger hunt to find the head of the headless horsemen. Vevay sits in the southeast corner of Indiana and was founded by Swiss immigrants in 1802 as New Switzerland. For this reason, it was named after the Swiss town of Vevay. The town was incorporated in 1836. One of its claims to fame is that it had the first commercial winery in America. The town also served as a busy port city. It was here that Benjamin Schenck decided to build his mansion.

Benjamin Franklin Schenck was the son of a wealthy “hay king” during the steamboat era named Ulysses P. Schenck. Ulysses had been born in Switzerland and his parents emigrated to America when he was young and he got into merchandising. he used steamboats to move his products up and down the river and in 1854, he built the "Switzerland" steamboat with his brother. This went on to serve on the Union side of the Civil War as a gunboat. He got his nickname of "Hay King" because he bought and sold large quantities of hay. Benjamin was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 3rd in 1834. He went to law school at Poughkeepsie, New York and was admitted to the bar, but decided law was not for him and he joined his father in the mercantile business. He added the purchase of the Vevay Weekly News to his business holdings in the 1850s and edited it for several years. He also manufactured ink with a partner named John Henry. Benjamin began work on his mansion in 1874.

The mansion was constructed on a hill, giving it its nickname "House on the Hill."  The design was Second Empire and the architect was George P. Humphries, who was out of Cincinnati. The total cost of the construction was $67,000. The Second Empire style was very popular after the Civil War and the Schenck Mansion has several prominent features including its square four-storied tower, dormer windows and the Mansard roof. The house had 35 rooms and five bathrooms and keep in mind that at the time, having just one bathroom in a house was a luxury. The running water was supplied from a reservoir located on the hill. The bathrooms also had the added luxury of a bathtub and all of them were walnut cased and copper lined. There was central heating with a gravity hot air system and the lighting was all gas. Unbelievably, the Schencks designed the mansion with iys own carbide generator to manufacture gas. The mansion also featured four porches, seven balconies, eight chimneys, thirteen fireplaces, over fifty windows and a summer kitchen at the far end of the house. The roof was made from slate and the exterior trim was fashioned from tin. The interior was as gorgeous as the exterior with the shutters and trim all originally faux grained.  There was a butler’s pantry that had shelves, twenty-six drawers and cupboards of various sizes from floor to ceiling.

By November of 1874, Benjamin's health began to deteriorate and he was told to go to Florida for a while, so he and his family spent the winter and spring in Jacksonville, Florida. They returned to Vevay in the summer and the family was able to spend that summer and the next in the mansion, although it was not finished being constructed. The family returned to Florida in 1877 and Benjamin died there in April at the young age of 42. He never got to see his home completed. His wife Celestine lived in the mansion intermittently until her death in December 1885. The Schencks had three daughters and they held onto the mansion until 1923, but it was mostly abandoned through the early twentieth century. In 1923, they gave the mansion and the sixty-five acres around it to the Indiana Baptist Convention. The church eventually returned it to the family.

In 1945, the mansion was bought by Clarence and Lulu Wiseman to use as their home and a clubhouse for the Switzerland County Saddle Club. The second floor they rented out as a tenement. Major T. and Ruth E. Jester bought the home in 1966 and they sold off the land around the property, save for six acres. The Wisemans had put in a trailer park at the end of the driveway and they sold this to Ervin and Lynn M. Wilson. The next owners were Burrel C. Farnsley and Alexander “Sandy” Speer of Louisville. They bought the property in 1972 and they began restoration efforts. In 1981, they gave up their efforts to restore the house and sold the property to their friend Mark C. Miles. He continued restorations and then put the mansion up on the market where it sat for several years before being bought by Jerry and Lisa Fisher in 1998. They completed all the renovation in 2000 and opened it as a bed and breakfast. The Fishers also got rid of the trailer park and landscaped the property with terracing, a patio, water features and a vineyard. The current innkeepers are Steve and Jenny.

The restored mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and features reproduction period wool carpet from England and Scotland, but also modern amenities like air-conditioning, flat screen TVs, clock radio with docking for iPods and WiFi. The Music Room was on the first floor and is now known as The Wiseman Room. Four of the other guest rooms are named for members of the Schenck family and several contain canopy beds. The reviews on TripAdvisor were raving about how great this place is to stay. It seems to be so comfortable, that some spirits have decided to make it their home in the afterlife. There are claims that upwards of six to seven ghosts reside in this inn.

Guests report hearing disembodied voices and footsteps. Shadow figures have been seen in the rooms at night. There is a Lady in White here who haunts the second floor. She seems almost to be residual as she just floats through the hallway and doesn't seem to take notice of anybody. One of the most common reports comes from male guests who claim to be kissed in the middle of the night by someone they can't see. Could this be the Woman in White?

There is another female ghost here that has been described as an Amish Housekeeper. She is brusque and usually is seen on the stairway and passes by guests who think of her as rude since she doesn't respond to their requests. The guests will go up to the innkeepers and complain about the housekeeper only to be told that no such woman is employed by the inn.

There are legends connected to the mansion that I'm not sure of their historical accuracy, but they might help explain the hauntings. It is said that the mansion is built on the ruins of another structure that had been lost to fire and a couple had been trapped inside. Another story is about a woman named Sarah who took pity on Civil War soldiers and took them into her home. This could be where the story of fire comes from because Sarah took in Confederates too. A militia came upon the house and they were enraged. They tied up both Sarah and the Confederate soldier and burned the house. No one knew the name of the soldier until they saw it written in the dirt after the fire...Ed. Another story told about this earlier house was that a couple lived here and the husband was sent off to fight in the war. He returns home to find his wife in bed with another man and he kills them both before killing himself. This scene is said to replay itself in the mansion that was built over their home. There are people who report mysteriously lights flickering and weird sounds and in the words of Michele Thompson, one of the Schenck’s innkeepers, “There are things that just…happen.”

The Schenck Mansion is a beautiful historic bed and breakfast that offers wonderful luxury. With these tales of supernatural occurrences, it would seem that some previous residents of this home or area are reluctant to leave. Is the Benjamin Schenck Mansion Bed and Breakfast haunted? That is for you to decide!

Historic Hoosier Theater - The Hoosier Theatre was built in 1837 and was originally meant to be a warehouse and store. Over the years it was used as a saddlery, a post office, a tavern, the offices of the Vevay Newspaper and a 225 seat theatre, which it became in 1926. It was abandoned in 1955 and sat vacant until 1983, when Historic Vevay, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation was formed to purchase and restore the building. The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and re-opened in 1987 and continues to operate as a theater.

Forgotten Memories Antiques

Julia Knox House Gift Shop - The Julia Knox House was built in 1870 and sits along the main street. It was three stories tall and named for Julia Knox who inherited the property from her parents. She was a historian and direct descendant of one of the families that founded Vevay. The house is now a gift shop that was re-opened in 2016 as a family owned and operated business.

Old Jail

Show Notes:
The Original Vevay Ghost Tour: "We are "The Original" Vevay Ghost Tour. Experience Vevay and learn about the history, haunts, and spooky happenings from days gone by to current experiences. Tours are October 26, and 28 (2018). We start at 7:00pm from Vevay Vintage Prop & Shop (110 E. Main Street Vevay). Tickets are $32/person and available by phone at 812-493-9572 (leave message if after business hours) or in person at Vevay Vintage Prop & Shop (110 E. Main Street Vevay). We recommend purchasing tickets in advance as each tour has only a small limited number available for your best possible experience. We will tour four locations throughout town and walk about 1.5-2 miles (there are also stairs) over the 2.5-3 hour tour. You will get to meet and hear the stories of those who have had 'experiences'."


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