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How, why, and when did the Victorian Mansion become a horror icon?

There are several icons that represent the genre of terror, icons that have existed for over 100 years, and have served as an inspiration for the modern terror we enjoy in movies.

But have you ever wondered how these icons came to be such a significant symbol of horror? Did you ever imagine that something as simple as a Victorian-era mansion would be strongly related to occult activities and paranormal experiences?

This is how Victorian mansions became one of the most significant horror icons of all time.

To understand how these extravagant and eerie looking mansions even became a horror icon, we must go back in time. During the Victorian era, a series of events occurred that significantly changed society. During the 1860s, society was faced with strong inequality, political corruption, and a period of industrialization which fueled the growth of the upper and wealthy class.

During this period, those families that were in the upper class had a tendency to show their wealth through their clothing, their jewelry, and of course, their houses. It was then that a new architectural style began to stand out, the Victorian style. The houses looked almost like castles, with decorations and details that represented the wealth of the family that lived in them.

The design of Victorian houses borrows some slight details from ancient Greek and Roman architecture while its main inspiration has found to be medieval Europe’s gothic architecture.

With a variety of towers, ornate gingerbread trims, wide wrap-around porches, and turrets these houses were made to make a statement, and not only the inside of a victorian mansion would be voluptuous but also the inside.

But the mansions that once symbolized wealth and strength would soon be linked to death. After World War I, America began to shift towards a more modern, progressive society and along with this change in the air, architectural design was also changing.

Sooner than we would have thought, the Victorian-style would have gone out of fashion and even begun to be despised by some people.

These huge mansions were associated with ghosts and spirits of the past, they were associated with an ancient era in which society had to bear much suffering due to war and social inequality.

As the years passed, Victorian mansions went from living homes to abandoned buildings. Without people interested in buying them back, these mansions began to deteriorate, giving them an even scarier appearance.

The creepy mansions caught the attention of American cartoonist Charles Adams, creator of The Addams Family cartoons.

As the popularity of The Addams Family grew steadily in the United States, the strange and frightening family managed to capture the attention of many, and it was then that one day in 1945 Charles Adams surprised everyone with an illustration of this obscure family’s home, a Victorian mansion of course.

«I Like Victorian houses and I’m not trying to make fun of them. I think they look better for haunts than a stone castle. I can’t picture a castle musty and cracked with peeling paint.» – Charles Adams

Thanks to the popular opinion of the American cartoonist, Victorian mansions began to be seen as a symbol of the culture of horror. From this point on, Victorian mansions began to claim their place in horror titles throughout 20th-century pop culture: horror movies, series, gothic novels, and more.

What’s your favorite Victorian mansion in the movies or horror novels?

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