George Stickney House – Woodstock, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

George Stickney House

This softly rounded mansion was built without corners not to avoid evil spirits, but to make them more comfortable. 


While Illinois’ George Stickney House is now a local government headquarters and police station, it was originally built with no sharp corners, thanks to the owners’ belief that it would help spirits flow through the home without getting snagged.

The house was built in 1836 by George Stickney and his wife Sylvia, both of whom were staunch believers in spiritualism, which roughly meant that they thought spirits not only could, but wanted to speak with and through them. As this belief was respected about as much as it would be today, the Stickneys built their dream home in the Illinois wilderness, far from prying eyes. They built the mansion two stories tall with the living and domestic quarters on the first floor and a grand ballroom taking up the entirety of the second. In the building of the structure, they made sure that there would be no sharp corners, and with every angle rounded. This was supposedly done in an effort to allow the spirits to travel unhindered through the house, as corners have often been thought to hide ghosts (or in more Christian examples, the devil).

The couple held lavish seances in the large second floor ballroom, inviting guests from all over to come and commune with the dead. Their fixation on talking with spirits was said to stem from the tragic fate of their children, only three of the ten they sired surviving to adulthood. It’s possible that they desperately wanted to reconnect with those that had died.

Since the Stickney’s vacated the house, a number of supernatural tales have sprung up around the mansion, the most prevalent of which involving the death of George himself. Legend has it that George Stickney was found slumped in a corner of his home that had accidentally been built at a 90 degree angle, a look of horror cemented on his face. Since then, a number of other ghostly miscellany has also been reported by other tenants including the current police officers.

Today the building houses the Bull Valley government and police force and the only remnants of the rounded architecture are on the outside of the building where the corners are still gentle slopes, as are the window arches. Assumedly spirits can now get in, they just can’t get out.        

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