Would you visit the ghosts of the beautiful and terrifying McHenry Mansion in Modesto, CA?

Evie M.

I miss living in California. I miss my home in Atwater, growing up in the Central Valley with so much at your fingertips, and this was in the "middle of nowhere". I've been thinking of home a lot, including all the amazing stories and strange happenings I was oblivious to as a kid, with some happening in the next town over. I lived only an hour from Modesto, which means it became a regular place to visit (their mall was sooo much better than ours) and still I had no idea such a historic place like the beautiful (and allegedly haunted) McHenry Mansion even existed. But now I do. And it's quite the story.

Why is the McHenry Mansion considered to be so haunted?

The McHenry Mansion started life in 1883 after a year of construction and planning it's marvelous structure. The home would belong to Robert McHenry, a businessman (butcher, trapper, crop grower, you name it) along with his wife, Matilda. Robert spared no expense creating his new home, hiring a notable architect from Stockton named Jeremiah Robinson to take on the project. Every detail of the house was meticulous and painstaking, with even the bricks of the house made locally. The McHenry Mansion's design mirrored the popular "High Victorian Italienete" style, and valued at around $12,000.

The mansion stayed within the family for generations, passing down to Mr. Mchenry's son, Oramil, once his father died in 1890. Oramil would move his entire family into the home: His wife, Louise, and their three children, though he and his wife would face divorce in 1901, bringing in a new wife, Myrtle. Once Oral died in 1906 at the young age of 44 from stomach cancer, Myrtle remarried to William Langdon in 1908. She and her new husband would move to Alameda for his job as a lawyer, but continued to hold on to the mansion. Eventually, the home would become the Elmwood Sanitarium until 1923, when it became "Langdon Apartments". The owners after the Langdons continued to use the home as an apartment complex until 1976. Mayor Lee Davis, who had a passion for preserving historic places around Modesto, begged Aileen and Julio Gallo to snatch it up under his business, the Julio R. Gallo Foundation. From there, the mansion was gifted to the city so it could be restored and "made available for community use".

In 1977 a major overhaul of the mansion went into play, and by 1983, the doors opened to the public again. Most recently, a fire in 2011 caused tremendous damage, but another restoration was done in 2013.

Today, the McHenry Mansion is a proud, self-proclaimed "non-profit support group to the City of Modesto", and they are very active. Not only are the holding regular events for the community to enjoy, but you can rent the mansion. That's right, you can actually rent this mansion for events.

But this isn't the part that interests me. Modesto locals who have experience with the McHenry Mansion note they're very careful to keep their apparent haunted history quiet. While some will not talk about what they've experienced, if you visit and are lucky enough some docents will speak about the hauntings surrounding the mansion and the apartments. There have been a number of reports that claim sightings of both of the McHenry's "in the upper copula".

Can you take a ghost tour of the McHenry Mansion?

While there are no direct ghost tour offerings, the McHenry Mansion is not shy about their tour schedule, even offering it in big bold letters on the front page of their website. If you would like to take a tour, visitors can pop by the mansion on Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12:30-4:30 pm for a romp around the mansion and a taste of history. And as for the ghosts, all I can say is keep your eyes peeled. You never know what might happen.

When I go back home to California, I know where I'll be headed. My only question is: Who's coming with me?

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