The Ritchie Mansion in Hemet California, also known as Haunted Hilltop Manor or The Hemet Wilson Manor is one of the most well known "haunted houses" in the area, if not all of the Inland Empire. With tall-tales of murdered little girls, "body-tables" in the basement and the infamous "bathroom of blood" I was eager to see what it was all about. What I learned was that the only thing frightening about the Ritchie Mansion is the amount of security recently put into place by the new owners and how eager the Sheriff is to cart trespassers off to the local jail - an event that has happened all too often since security has been tightened up in the last few months.
From the outside, driving up the long private driveway, the Ritchie Mansion appears as a very nice looking home that no self-respecting ghost or ghoul would be caught..erhm.. dead in. With new stucco and a recent paint-job the home perched atop the hill (hence the nickname Hilltop Manor) could not look any less haunted. Surrounded by chain-link fence complete with barbed-wire and no-trespassing signs the home looks more likely to house a movie-star than any ghosts.
My tour, given by the new owners was complete with a history of the home which stretches back nearly 100 years to 1913. The grand-tour included all rooms, the courtyard, the "bloody bathroom", the "charred" basement and the carriage-house located approximately 100 yards down the hill from the mansion. All of which became less and less frightening as I saw them. The bloody bathroom? Kool-Aid concentrate splashed on the walls by vandals. The "body table" in the basement? Nothing more than a pantry table. The charred basement and mysterious smells of smoke? The result of a fire sometime in the last few years that nearly destroyed the entire home. The mysterious slamming doors and noises? Nothing more than pigeons living in the attic and doors, minus the latches which were taken by thieves and vandals, slamming - blown by the wind which freely flows through the 63 broken windows now all under repair. The murders in the home including the man that killed his entire family, then himself? Hangings of workers from the tree in front? No evidence whatsoever in the historical record. All are nothing more than silly 'haunting' stories told, embellished, and then retold by kids, drunken teenagers and vandals. In short, the Ritchie Mansion isn't haunted at all. It is a once-beautiful and historic home that has fallen prey to vandals, and is now in the midst of a glorious rebirth, thanks to the new owners.
The Ritchie Mansion - a history:
Originally from Boston, Mass., Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Ritchie moved west in 1910 and started purchasing property in south east Hemet. In 1913 the couple started construction on the home in Hemet, CA. They spent about $40,000.00 on the main house and carriage house. The main house is U-shaped with an open courtyard in the center. There are not many rooms but the rooms are somewhat large. There is a living room, dining room, pantry, kitchen and small breakfast room. There is a master suit which consists of the bedroom, a sitting room and a small bathroom. There are 2 guest rooms. One is original with its own bathroom. The other was converted into a guestroom(s) 10 years ago by the previous owner. Originally that part of the house was servants quarters, consisting of two small bedrooms extra storage closet and a stairwell leading down to a small bathroom area and into the basement. Now it has a bathroom and two rooms. There is a full basement, part of which is used as a laundry room and the rest is storage.
The current owners are only the fourth to have owned the home since 1913. After the Ritchie family, the home was purchased by the Wilson family in the late 1940's (hence, the name Wilson Manor). The home was owned by Wilson family until the late 1990's when it was then purchased by a corporation with grand plans of converting the home into an assisted living residence. When this plan never materialized, the home fell into disrepair. The current owners, who took possession of the home in early 2010 are working hard to bring the Ritchie Mansion back to it's original grandeur and from what I saw today they are making great progress.
So it is now official, and here for everyone to see: The Ritchie Mansion, Hilltop Manor, or Wilson Manor, whatever you wish to call it, is not haunted. It is a beautiful, historic home owned by real people. Please respect the property and enjoy it from a distance.
Below are some photographs of the inside of the Hemet Ritchie House, taken just a couple of years ago before the home fell into disrepair:
Just inside the front entrance of the Ritchie Mansion:
The "grand" living room:
The most interesting feature, the courtyard which runs through the center of the home:
TODAY - The carriage-house with the 'mansion' visible on the left. Signs of construction and ongoing work make this haunted house not very scary at all: