Most Haunted Places in America: Atherton Mansion
It seems that every town has the house. The one that has been abandoned and so far deteriorated that demolition seems fairer than refurbishing. A house that has blurred the line between history and folklore and truly looks the part of being haunted.
The Atherton Mansion in California is not one of those houses, at least not the appearance part. An interesting history however does give the now haunted Atherton Mansion a solid backdrop for its paranormal claims.
Faxon D. Atherton traveled from Massachusetts to Chile to trade in hides and other commodities. His business grew and he became a very wealthy man. In 1860 he eventually permanently moved to California and purchased 600 acres in San Mateo County. He built his estate there and called in Valparaiso Park. He married Dominga de Goñi and they had seven children.
Faxon however traveled often and was known as a womanizer. Dominga, being left at home a lot, was forced to take charge of the large estate and being a domineering woman, relished in the power she wielded. After the death of Faxon, Dominga moved to the city and built Atherton Mansion in 1881.
Dominga lived in the home with her son George who has lived under his mother’s dominance for many years. George eventually married Gertrude Horn, another strong-willed woman and the three of them lived in the Mansion.
George finally had enough and accepted an invitation to sail to Chile in 1887. Possibly he saw this chance as a way to follow in his father’s footsteps and prove his manhood. Unfortunately things did not turn out for George. He developed a kidney problem and died during his trip. The Captain and his crew put George’s body in a barrel of rum to preserve it and shipped it back to the family.
There is a little debate as to whether the Captain took the time to write a letter to the family informing them of George’s demise but one thing is for sure, the barrel of rum arrived back at the mansion with no indication of what was inside.
The family only found out what was in the barrel when a butler opened it one evening to serve the rum. After the funeral, Gertrude moved out of the house immediately claiming that she knew George would haunt her if he could. It seems she may have been right. Dominga reported cold spots and knocks on her bedroom door that got so bad she sold the mansion.
In 1923 Carrie Rousseau became the owner of the house and lived there till her death in 1974 along with her 50 cats. After the death of Carrie, the mansion was remodeled into 12 apartments and residents continued to report paranormal claims.
Some of the resident’s claims were random cold spots, a wind blowing through rooms that have no windows open, disembodied voices and the continued knocking on the doors. One resident moved out after complaining about several apparitions being seen in what was called the tower apartment.
The haunted Atherton Mansion is given credit for having four spirits in the house; George Atherton, Dominga, Gertrude and Carrie.