Although Astonishing Legends spent a lot of time investigating Chicago for the Resurrection Mary series, Mary is far from the only strange thing residing in the great state of Illinois. One of these strange residents isn’t a person, but a house...specifically the George Stickney house.
The mansion was first built in 1836 by George and wife Sylvia. The Stickneys had been a part of the area for quite sometime before they built their mansion. In fact, George Stickney was the first white man to settle in Nunda Township in the early 1830s.
The Stickneys were also large believers in spiritualism and supported the idea that spirits had the desire to act through the living. They were believed to have first gotten into spiritualism as a way to deal with the immense tragedy in their lives. The couple had ten children together but of the 10 only three survived to adulthood. They relied on their faith in spiritualism and communication afterlife as a way to grieve their children and give them their hope. Their belief in spiritualism directly affected how they built their dream house.
The first consideration was location. The Stickneys chose a remote place in an effort to avoid questions from strangers or odd rumors cropping up about their practices. So, they went to Illinois, specifically a remote location in the forest right outside Bull Valley. The home is two floors and the first floor is pretty typical of any home with bedrooms, a kitchen, and other living spaces. But the second floor of the home is entirely dedicated to a hugely grand ballroom.
One of the strangest architectural details of the home is that it completely lacks any sharp corners. Every angle in the home is rounded. This was done in the hopes that spirits would be able to move through the home unimpeded, as corners are believed to impinge upon the ability of spirits to roam and even, in some cases, trap or confuse them.
But, back to the ballroom...why would one dedicate so much space to a ballroom in a home in the middle of nowhere? Why to hold extravagant seances of course!
One of the legends of the home, although it has not been entirely proven, is that George died in the only room with a 90-degree corner, which the architect inexplicably included. He died with a look of terror on his face when he realized where he had died would trap his soul forever within the home.
Survived by his wife, Sylvia the Stickneys prominence in the spiritual world continued to grow. Throughout this time Sylvia claimed to keep up conversations with both her departed husband and children.
After Sylvia died, the house fell a bit into disrepair. A group of so-called devil worshippers was believed to move in but in reality, it was just a group of burned-out hippies in the 1960s who painted the room, left strange messages, and set fires throughout the home. Although rumors like this sprung up in the following decades alongside purported hauntings have never been proven.
The house sold in the mid-20th century although the next owners never claimed anything unusual or supernatural happened. They moved out a few years later when their plans for restoring the home fell through.
Today, the home is owned and occupied by the Bull Valley Police Department. The gorgeous ballroom once used for seances and to discuss matters of spiritualism is now a series of storage rooms for the police department.
The featured image is of the George Stickney House, Bull Valley, Illinois, National Register of Historic Places.