Haunted Mansions of Montecito

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures
Haunted Mansions of Montecito - Photo

Montecito lies behind the sunny California coastal city of Santa Barbara. A golden glow emits over the Pacific Ocean from its star-studded neighborhoods. Among the stately estates, the influential secrets of a tight-knit community hang about the hallways and ballrooms. Few get to hear their words. In recent light of a televised entry into one of these mansions, US Ghost Adventures has brought you to their doorsteps. The main subject of this discourse will be the Moody Mansion. An architectural monument to a decadent elite class of Southern California society. The mansion, built in 1885, was the childhood home of four entrepreneurial sisters that left a real estate legacy across the Santa Barbara coast. Their story is one of prosperity, but later residents did not find themselves so lucky. One woman lost her life here mysteriously after marrying into the hands of a wealthy businessman from New York. But the mansion, now a senior care center, is not the only estate with a strange background and an untimely end.

Senior Citizens See All 

David Sullivan has owned the Moody Mansion since 2001, out of which he has operated a senior care center and hospice. Many patients have met their final days in the home, seemingly increasing the spiritual activity in what was already a very active building. Sullivan states he has seen those in their last moments gesturing and talking to others not visible to himself or other workers. As one passes from this world into the next, it is said the veil lifts. Those that were once lost to us reappear as well as ones that may have never left. Workers often report feeling followed or that some presence is with them. Are these the spirits of the patients in their care? Or the former residents of the home?

The Moody family built the house in 1885, and four of their daughters used their financial well-being to change the landscape of Southern California home building and design. Construction, designing, financing, and even decorating the interior of their aptly named “Moody Cottages.” Over three dozen pepper the Santa Barbara landscape and are precious today. Their home was bought by a man named Ferdinand Randall Bain around 1912. President of Poughskeepie Gas and Electric had invested considerable interests in Southern California energy and lived in the mansion with his second wife, Gertrude Bain. He had left behind his former partner, Hattie Bain, in New York, along with their three children. Gertrude mysteriously died in 1916, which shocked friends and family because she was in excellent health. There are rumors of foul play today, and many workers at the facility believe it to be her ghost that walks with them. Seances have been held in the house to contact her, and whoever else may be residing there. A place with so much death is likely to have more than one visitor from the afterlife after all.

The Markel Manor

Prince Harry and Meghan Markel, the wayward Duke and Duchess of Sussex, moved to the Montecito area after resigning from their positions in the royal family. In March 2020, they purchased a $14.6 million mansion in Hope Ranch. As of Oct 2nd, 2022, they are looking to relocate. Something hasn’t been sitting right with the royal couple inside their 14,600 square foot home, including a pool, tennis court, and gym. Built in 2003, the house is referred to as simply “The Chateau.” It features nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. Sold in 2009 for $25 million, it lies on the property of what was once an even larger residency. 

An 87-acre ranch belonging to the McCormick family once stood here. Known as the Riven Rock Estate, the main house was lost during the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake, and the land was sold off in parcels. Where the Sussex family decided to call home is nearly on top of the old McCormick household, and it is believed at least one of them remains there today. 

Stanley McCormick was the receiver of a vast fortune. His father, Cyrus McCormick, had invented the first mechanical agricultural reaper, the first patent granted him in 1834. Stanley suffered from a debilitating bought of schizophrenia that heightened around 1908. His family had been coming to the Montecito area since the 1880s. They built their estate in 1896. His sister, Mary, also suffered these bouts of mental illness. Living at the family home until Stanley’s problems worsened. These episodes left him with horrid sexual fascinations, obsessions, and violent outbursts. A team of all male doctors and nurses cared for him as his condition worsened. Forcing him and Katherine to stay in hotels when visiting him. Otherwise, she lived in Boston, where she was a part of the Women’s Temperance Movement. 

After the earthquake of 1925 took his home, he was relocated to various other properties on the estate. He eventually died in 1947. Throughout this time, long battles for his custody ensued. His wife Katherine inherited the equivalent of $500 million after his death. 

Montecito’s Haunted Past

Two attempted break-ins may be swaying Prince Harry and Megan Markel’s choice to relocate. The presence felt at the senior care facility at the Moody Mansion may be the onset of old age playing tricks. But perhaps there is more to it. Stanley McCormick had all of life’s finest amenities built for him. A theatre for live performances that included a musical director, a nine-hole golf course, and a considerable art collection were at his disposal. His soul was in distress due to his mental condition. Perhaps he was at peace while on the grounds, Now trapped in a child-like whimsy for eternity. It is very likely he may still be haunting the city’s hills today, just as the spirits of the elderly who passed in the care of Sullivan may be in the mansion. These mysteries are beyond most of us. US Ghost Adventures strives to inform readers about the truths behind their secrets. Read on for more tales of torment, class, and tasteful terror.  

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Ghost Adventures: Season 22, Episode 07