For as long as most of us can remember, the crumbling Victorian mansion has been a symbol of spookiness and the supernatural. You see it in everything from The Addams Family, to Psycho, to most recently, The Haunting of Hill House. But how did this phenomenon happen? Why do we culturally associate homes from one very specific era with the concept of fear?Â According to a new video essay byÂ Vox, via The Laughing Squid, it all goes back to how we as Americans felt about the fallout of the so-called “Gilded Age” at the turn of the twentieth century.Victorian homes were once used to signify wealth, and the period of the late nineteenth century saw the first Americans strike it rich thanks to the industrial revolution. And once there was a new class of rich and powerful in North America, they used their wealth to emulate the lavish houses of the European aristocracy.But when the nineteenth century became the twentieth, America was faced with harsh economic realities like the Great Depression. Many of these homes became abandoned, and Victorians became relics, symbols of an era when the wealthy had seances and were obsessed with spiritualism. The “ Winchester Mystery House” in California is a perfect example.
Images: Paramount Pictures