Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Bentonsport, Iowa is a grand, stone and mortar house that has stood the tests of time. In 1846, Mr. William Robinson, built the house and called it The Ashland House. The purpose of the house in this time was to serve steamboat travelers going from St. Louis to Fort Des Moines. It operated in this manner until the property was sold in 1857 to Lewis Mason and his wife Nancy. Mr. and Mrs. Manson renamed the estate The Phoenix Hotel. The locals in the area however, called it The Mason House. The name stuck and continues to be known as such to this day.
This beautiful home has not only been used as a place to rest travelers. It has seen a fair share of glory and tragedy within its walls and the land. It has survived five great floods and was used as a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War. In 1913 the house was converted to a Tuberculosis Ward. After the Sanatorium closed it, it was modeled into a boarding house from 1920 – 1950 by Mr. Lewis Mason’s granddaughter. After 1950, the estate was again sold and this time it was to Herbert and Barretta Redhead. The couple turned the historic home into a B & B and museum. This B & B ran uninterrupted for 33 years.
Hiding under all the cozy beds, and beautiful landscape is a dark history before the home was built. The land the estate is built on was an Underground Railroad. It is unknown if anyone died on the land when it was used as the Underground Railroad. However, it is known that two Civil War soldiers did die there when the building was used as a hospital for the wounded soldiers. Also, several patients succumbed to Tuberculosis when the sanitarium was in full use.
No good haunted house is not without a murder. Apparently, there was a Mr. Knapp that was stabbed in the heart in one of the rooms. The story goes that in 1860 Mr. Knapp returned to the Inn from a drunken evening at a local tavern. He then, in his inebriated state, tried to get into an already occupied bed. The person sleeping in that bed woke up with a fright and stabbed Mr. Knapp; the person was confused and believed that Mr. Knapp was coming in to rob him. A lot of guests believe that something bad happened in Room 7. They often feel an angry and heavy presence in that room. Maybe Mr. Knapp’s murder occurred in that room?
It’s reported that the house has five active ghosts. One is a boy named George who is a sweet mischievous boy that likes to play tricks on people. He moves their items from one room to another. He knocks on guests’ door then disappears when they open the door. This ghost boy seems to be an intelligent spirit as he likes to wave happily at people and then look sad when they don’t wave back to him.
Another spirit is that of Fannie Mason Kurtz, the last Mason to own the home. She died by the fire place in 1951. To this day she enjoys greeting guests and walking around the area where she died. Fannie seems to be content in her afterlife and doesn’t wish to leave any time soon. There is also an old lady that stays on the third floor, south side bedroom. She often rummages through the storage boxes up there. People have reported seeing her standing in the door way before vanishing before their eyes.
Footsteps made by invisible people, knocking sounds, full body apparitions, and light orbs visible to the naked eye are only a few things that guest continue to experience while staying at The Mason House Inn. This location is so active that it is believed that 75% of the guests that stay there have a paranormal experience whether they were looking for one or not. It is a beautiful place, steeped in history with great joy and sadness. It has withstood the test of time and it seems the permanent residents that live there are very fond of it and will continue to protect this place for centuries to come.