Why the Victorian mansion is a horror icon

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, November 13, 2018
  • The Gilded Age left a legacy of decay on the American landscape. Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjOHaunted houses are often depicted with similar features: decaying woodwork, steep angles, and Gothic-looking towers and turrets. The model for this trope is the Victorian mansion, once a symbol of affluence and taste during the Gilded Age - a period of American history marked by political corruption and severe income inequality. After World War I, these houses were seen as extravagant and antiquated, and were abandoned. Their sinister relationship to the troubling end of the Victorian Era in America eventually led to their depiction as haunted and ghostly in both fine art and pop culture, and is now an unspoken symbol of dread. Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyEFollow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06oOr Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H
  • Source: https://youtu.be/2xvNhN1PsRw


  • Vox


     9 months ago +769

    Victorian mansions aren’t the only backdrops for the horrific and macabre — check out our video on the dollhouses of death that revolutionized forensic science forever: http://bit.ly/2Tb56ui

  • Chris Wald

    Chris Wald

     9 months ago +4275

    4:50 So I sometimes watch Vox informational videos to help put me to sleep; thanks for that ending...

  • Nathan Jones

    Nathan Jones

     9 months ago +504

    We should preserve these buildings, we'll never build anything up to par again

  • Aaa


     9 months ago +827

    I think these victorian mansions are creepy because of the feeling of being closed off and the fact that those mansions have so much space inside that they hide- like something must be in there; the mansions disguise that by showing off a beautiful exterior, but it tries too hard and comes off as "grotesque", suggesting something about it is a little off. Like an alien or a robot trying really hard to pretend to be human.
    They are also kind of similar to houses we already know, they aren't from too long ago. So they aren't as removed from the present as something like a castle. But they are still from long enough ago that they are unfamiliar and even foreign, despite having existed in areas we still live.
    And of course they are big and intimidating.

  • Harry Goodwin

    Harry Goodwin

     9 months ago +475

    4:50 Come on, man.... This is a vox video, and it should lull me into enlightened bliss.

  • guneet kaur

    guneet kaur

     9 months ago +172

    Rich owners spend $$$$ to build mansions
    Charles Adams : I will turn them into grotesque haunting houses
    Rich owners- weird flex but okay

  • mossara


     9 months ago +236

    I lived in a Victorian house with my family (specifically my grandparents, they raised my dad and his 6 siblings there because it was so big) for a good chunk of my childhood. It wasn’t nearly as large, but it did have all of the ornate details and windows. We were never allowed in the parlor, and my grandfather was constantly painting and repainting the outside. The inside was... musty. It was old and they were old so nothing was ever really changed. I tend to look at them as comforting and homey, but for a good while I did think it was haunted. Always felt like someone was watching me go up the first floor stairs.

  • Devo X

    Devo X

     8 months ago +78

    Ok, dude. Great video, but DONT need the jump scares!

  • Tyler Stercula

    Tyler Stercula

     9 months ago +277

    This doesn't really address the associations that Victorian culture had with death before it became passé. I certainly like the Marxist take, but those people were obsessed with death. It was ingrained in the culture. It makes sense why death would be associated with their houses.

  • This is Barris! - French History

    This is Barris! - French History

     9 months ago +1754

    This is why I don't believe in ghosts - they are all old and Victorian.
    Why isn't there any ghosts of 12 years old pre-teens that died in the 2000s in a Canadian Tuxedo listening to Britney Spears?

  • Just Basic

    Just Basic

     9 months ago +63

    4:50 I don't trust you anymore

  • Francesca Taphophilia

    Francesca Taphophilia

     9 months ago +148

    Those are not "the Victorian", those are second empire Victorian. There are several different styles of Victorian, gothic, queen Anne, colonial revival (quite austere), and the transitional styles into the edwardian period.
    They didn't fall out of fashion because of a backlash against the rich. That would imply the upper class were replaced by a new upper class, They weren't. Once the ornamentation of the Victorians
    became so ubiquitous that even the poor were adding gingerbread brickabrack to the gables and doorways, the rich saw their own stuff as declassé and responded with cleaner styles, styk, mission, craftsman, then eventually deco.

  • Haley Husk

    Haley Husk

     9 months ago +142

    This entire video glosses over the roots of modern horror: the Gothic novels of the late 1700's. How can Vox just conveniently skip over works like The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and Northanger Abbey? These original works were all set in European Gothic mansions. The reason why "Victorian" houses (there are about 15 different architectural styles listed as "Victorian" in this video) seem spooky is because they were the only thing in America similar to those Gothic mansions.

  • Stephanie Mukai

    Stephanie Mukai

     9 months ago +19

    Honestly, Victorian houses are beautiful to me!

  • Weaseling rentler

    Weaseling rentler

     9 months ago +1559

    I actually like and want to live in a old victorian house.

  • GraceDcastle


     9 months ago +57

    How dare you compare Victorian mansions to MacMansions

  • Leen Selart

    Leen Selart

     8 months ago +42

    You are getting a dislike for that jumpscare

  • Ma Re

    Ma Re

     9 months ago +357

    To a European, who grew up in a victorian mansion and who haven’t been exposed to “American Horror Culture” all to much, this is a video quite strange to watch.

  • Heidi Thomas

    Heidi Thomas

     9 months ago +47

    Dark corners create shadows and these shadows move with every new angle. Victorians have many angles to each room. Windows add the movement of curtains because if drafts, especially on a windy night. The rain on the wood shingles echo through the walk up attic and down the staircase. Mice running between the walls cause floorboards to creek. Or all of these movements and sounds could really could be ghosts.
    We own a Victorian built in 1903, and it's every bit as spooky, especially the basement. People back 100 years ago, in our neighborhood burried their dead in the dirt floor of basements and over time many people escavating in the old neighborhood have found their remains. It makes me wonder.
    I wouldn't give up the charm though. The detailing and the vaulted ceilings. The floor to ceiling windows, the turrets and the Butler's pantry are done using beautifully carved wood and trim that add to the charm.

  • Michael Whittaker

    Michael Whittaker

     9 months ago +2069

    The premise of the video is a little too simplistic. Don’t forget that the horror genre in reading came of age in the 19th century as did spiritualism.
    The Winchester Mansion is a great example of spiritualism and architecture colliding.
    Also to note is; in a land without castles an imposing mansion is the next best thing.