Both accomplished mediums and devout practitioners of Spiritualism, George and Sylvia Stickney built this unusual two-story house in 1836 on an isolated country highway in Bull Valley, Illinois, thinking this corner-less design would assist them when holding séances and gatherings at the property. The couple had twelve children but only three survived to adulthood; they would often try to contact their nine dead children during their séances.
The Stickneys' believed that spirits have an inclination of getting stuck in the corners of houses, producing terrible results. They also felt that having a 90 degree angle corner would attract evil spirits. Therefore, all the rooms in their mansion have round smooth corners except one. For some unknown reason this room accidentally ended up with a 90-degree measurement.
According to legend, George Stickney was one day discovered slumped to the floor, dead from an apparent heart failure next to the only corner in the house located in that very mysterious room.
Reports claim Sylvia Stickney continued to live in the house as an accomplished spirit medium. People from all over the world come to take part in séances upstairs in the converted ballroom.
In the 1970s, Rodrick Smith moved in and began to hear strange noises and his dog began to exhibit strange behavior. After awhile Smith became more and more uncomfortable in the house and decided to research the home. According to Smith's findings, satanic worship took place in the mansion during the sixties and the black magic rituals conjured up an evil presence which resides in the house. Other researchers feel it was hippies during that time that changed the atmosphere of the house with drug use and painting the rooms dark colors, spray painting messages and leaving their abandoned drugs after they left.
The mansion was later sold and the Village of Bull Valley police department moved in as their headquarters. The police have reported hearing footsteps in the ballroom area, formally the séance chamber. Disembodied voices and strange noises have been heard on the stairwell and through out the house several times. Objects have moved on their own, door knobs have been seen turning on their own. Lone workers have seen and heard doors opening and closing on their own when no one else was in the building. One police officer saw the apparition of what he later described as Stickney's father-in-law. Two police officers have quit due to the disturbances that take place in this bizarre house.
Further research into town cemetery records often yield different facts to the dates in this story, but little else is recorded of this time. We have the old legends and the stories from the mansion's modern-day occupants to work from on our journey. Most important of the details, is the fact that the reputation of the house is firmly based in the Stickneys' practice Spiritualism and the regular attempts to commune with the spirits who have passed on into the beyond.
The day we arrived to visit the mansion two springs ago was bright, warm, and friendly. On the grounds of the mansion, however, the air was still and tense. The home felt isolated on its road winding off of the main road through town. Walking around the mansion, we felt uneasy staring into the black windows as if the house was watching us. The very look of this odd house makes one feel uncomfortable, which shouldn't be a surprise since it was built specifically to talk to the dead. Perhaps the spirits still wander freely through its rooms and corridors waiting to make their presence known.