Multi-Million Dollar Mansions That Were Abandoned For Years

Shannon Quinn - June 11, 2021
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This mansion was passed along to multiple buyers. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

17. Swannanoa is Yet Another Beautiful Money Pit Mansion

Way back in 1912, a businessman named Major James H. Dooley spent $2 million to create an Italian Renaissance Revival mansion. Located in Lyndhurst, Virginia, this home was one of a kind, and it took over 8 years to complete. There are marble floors, custom made Tiffany windows, and many other features carefully crafted by 300 different artisans. Major Dooley named the mansion “Swannanoa”, and it became the jewel of the entire town. All of this luxury came to a halt when Major Dooley died in 1924, and his wife died just two years later in 1926.

The Dooleys didn’t have any children, so it was passed on to James’ two sisters. They sold it for just $300,000 to someone who wanted to convert it into a country club. The club opened in 1929, but it had to shut down in 1932, because they lost so much money during the Great Depression. The US Navy considered buying this mansion as a place to house their troops during World War II, but the repair costs would have been too massive. So it was purchased in 1944 for $60,000 by a man named Walter Russell. He planned to create a New Age university on the grounds, but it never happened. Since then, it has been considered a “money pit” to anyone who dares to buy it. 

The beautiful Mudhouse Mansion was left untouched for decades. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

16. The Mudhouse Mansion Was Most Likely too Haunted to Live In

Originally built in Fairfield County, Ohio, no one really knows who built the “Mudhouse Mansion”, or when. Historians estimate that the mansion was erected some time between the 1840’s and 1900. It’s a beautiful home in the Second Empire style architecture. There are also several other buildings on the property- one of which is big enough to build a guest house. If this place was ever fixed up, it could have been beautiful, and worth well over a million dollars. However, the house had not been occupied since the 1930’s. It was passed down to multiple members of the original family who owned it, but no one actually wanted to fix it up and move in. It’s very strange that no one in the entire extended family was willing to fix it up, even after inheriting a mansion for free.

For decades, people thought it was haunted, and it was the source of a lot of local legends and lore. One of the legends was that during the Civil War, the family kept their slaves locked up in chains all night. Finally, the slave broke free, and killed the entire family. Another legend about the Mudhouse Mansion is that it was the woman who owned it first killed her children in the house. This went on all the way to 2015, when it was finally demolished.

The sad state of Courtney Love’s mansion. Credit: Variety

15. Courtney Love’s Country Manor in Washington State

Many of you will recognize Courtney Love as the famous rockstar musician and widow of Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. Courtney purchased a house in Washington State back in 1995, which was only a year after her husband died. The home is on a beautiful wooded property. It’s surprising that she bought this house, because it doesn’t seem to match her personality at all. Maybe she wanted to get out and enjoy nature.  Courtney Love was raised in the city of Portland, Oregon, and mostly lived in Los Angeles after her career took off. Kurt was from Aberdeen, Washington. Maybe by buying a house an hour away in Olympia, Washington, she was trying to pay homage to her late husband.

But clearly, Courtney couldn’t handle the upkeep of the house and multiple outbuildings on her own. Or, this house only brought back painful memories. So she never lived in it. Courtney tried selling the house in 2011, but no one was interested. In 2018, it was announced that Courtney Love planned to sell the mansion again. At that point, she had to sell it for only $320,000, which was a huge loss, considering that she bought the mansion for $447,000. On the real estate listing, the realtor didn’t hold back from letting the potential buyer know that pretty much everything needed to be fixed up. Someone put in an offer, and it was finally sold to a new owner who was willing to put in the work to fix it.

The Villa de Vecchi has been called “The House of Witches”, and is said to be cursed. Credit: Atlas Obscura

14. Villa de Vecchi Has a Tragic Mystery Surround It

The “Villa de Vecchi” is considered to be one of the most haunted places in all of Italy. It was originally built back in 1854 by Count Felix De Vecchi. At the time, he was seen as a local hero, because he was the leader of the Italian National Guard. The architect, Alessandro Sidioli, died a year before the house could be complete. Many saw this as a very bad omen. The family was only able to enjoy a few years in their summer holiday home before tragedy began. One day, Count de Vecchi came home and discovered that someone had murdered his wife and kidnapped his daughter. Many considered him to be a hero. But clearly, he had enemies.

He spent the rest of his life searching for his daughter. When he failed to avenge their murders, he comitted suicide. Count Vecchi’s brother moved in with his family, and they lived in the mansion until they left the home in World War II. Since then, the house has been abandoned; it’s been nicknamed “The House of Witches.” In 2002, there was a huge avalanche that destroyed all of the houses in that surrounding area, except for the Villa de Vecchi. Some people see this as even more evidence that it’s haunted, or protected by some sort of spirit.

The Hegeler Carus mansion in La Salle, Illinois. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

13.The Hegeler Carus Mansion Did Not Stay Empty For Long

The Hegeler Carus Mansion is located in La Salle, Illinois. From the outside, the 1800’s mansion looks like something out of a movie. It was originally built by a man called Edward C. Hegeler, who was a zinc manufacturer and book publisher. He hired a famous architect to create the home, and it truly is a work of art. Hegeler’s oldest daughter Mary was the one to inherit the responsibility of running the zinc and publishing companies. She eventually married a man named Paul Carus. They had 6 children together, and the oldest child was the last one to stay in their house. He died at 103 years old, in 2004.

Thankfully, the Hegeler Carus Mansion has a happy ending, and it didn’t say abandoned for very long. It was purchased and turned into a museum before it could become dilapidated, and they established the Hegeler Carus Foundation. Even though the outside of the home looks like the sort of house that might be haunted, a lot of people say that when they went into the abandoned house, they could actually feel a happy, cheerful energy. Maybe this positive energy is why this house found a new home, while other houses with a darker past tend to stay empty for longer. Now, the home is used for small outdoor concerts, events, and celebrating local history with the public.

The city council and Steve Jobs fought in court for over a decade. Credit: NYPost

12. Steve Jobs’ Jackling House in Woodside, CA

Everyone knows Steve Jobs as the founder of Apple Computer. You wouldn’t imagine that one of his mansions would ever be abandoned. But the Jackling House in Woodside, California has a strange story. In 1984, Steve Jobs purchased this house for $3.5 million. It was designed by a famous architect named George Washington Smith, who made Spanish Colonial Revival style popular in California. The house was originally built in 1925, and it was once owned by a copper mining millionaire. However, Steve Jobs reportedly hated that house. In 1994, he moved out, without ever trying to sell it. 

In the year 2000, Steve Jobs was actually trying to get permission to have it demolished so that he could build a smaller, newer house on that land. For years, the city council tried to fight the demolition of the property, saying that the home belonged on a historic registry. So he left it abandoned for over a decade. Finally, in 2011, Steve Jobs was allowed to tear the house down. He allowed the local town historic society to take anything they wanted, like the historic door handles, chandeliers, and pipe organ. But just eight months later, he passed away. The legal battle had gone on for so long, he was never able to enjoy his own property the way he wanted.

No one has lived in his house since 1959. Credit: The Los Angeles Times

11. The Los Feliz Murder House

If anyone is a true crime junkie out there, you have probably already heard of The Los Feliz Murder Mansion. The Perelson house was beautiful, and fit into the hip Hollywood adjacent neighborhood. One night, in 1959, Dr. Harold Perelson murdered his wife, and planned to kill his three children in the middle of the night. He also planned to kill himself with poison afterwards. But before he could his oldest daughter hit him over the head, and helped her two younger siblings escape the house. Criminal investigators tried to figure out the motive behind why Dr. Perelson would do this, and they decided that it was due to financial problems. The creepy thing is that on that night, the husband left open Dante’s Divine Comedy on his bedside table. In case you didn’t know, this is a poem about the journey through Hell. 

Two years after the murders, the house was sold to the Enriquez family. They refused to actually move into the house, and used it for storage space. The family owned the home for decades, until it was passed on to their son. He decided to get rid of the house, and sold it to a young couple in 2016 who decided to fix it up. However, they quickly decided they couldn’t handle living there either, and put the house up for sale once again. This could have been for a few reasons. Many believe that the house is haunted, or cursed.

This palace was once a paradise on Earth for the former President of Congo. Credit: Independent UK

10. Bamboo Palace, Gbadolite, Democratic Republic of the Congo

One of the most luxurious abandoned mansions of all time just so happens to be in the Congo. Back in the 1970’s, President Mobutu Seso Seko of the was the leader of Zaire. He used his fortune to build a $100 million palace in the middle of a small remote village called Gbadolite. The home had an amazing pool inside of a private courtyard, chandeliers in every room, and priceless artwork from Europe. He even had a nightclub, and would throw parties with 2,000 people. This mansion was so remote, it’s nearly 1,000 miles away from the capital Kinshasa. At the time that he lived there, President Mobutu flew to a private airfield near the mansion so that he could travel quickly. The airport even had the ability to accommodate international flights. 

 

In 1997, Mobutu was pushed out of his position of power. His luxurious compound was attacked by a rebel faction, and Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo. Once he was removed from power, the palace was stripped of its wealth by raiders. The President made it out alive by flying to Morocco. But he died a few months later. Now, there is only the stone facade of what once was. Even the airport is now abandoned, because no one in the area was rich enough to use it. When reporters from the BBC traveled to the mansion, they had to drive for two days into a remote area to even find it.

Hook End Manor was a home to many celebrities, and it might be haunted. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

9. Hook End Manor May Be Haunted

This next house in Oxfordshire, England, is the oldest house on the list. Hook End was originally built in 1580 for the Bishop of Reading. One of its most famous residents, however, was David Gilmour, who was the guitarist for Pink Floyd. In the 1970’s, Gilmour added a recording studio to the barn. So several musicians recorded albums, singles, and LP’s there like Rod Stewart, The Smiths, and more. However, it wasn’t all fun and games in the house. Morrissey from The Smiths said that when he was visiting, he saw the ghost of a monk walking the hallways in the early morning, as if he was waking everyone up for their morning prayers. But things got much worse than ghostly apparitions. 

In 2006, a family moved into the home. The son accidentally shot his mother with an air rifle, sending her into a coma. In 2009, a music producer named Mark White bought the mansion for $17 million. However, he was only interested in the studio in the barn. He kept up with maintaining that one building, but neglected the others. As the years went on, the mansion got worse and worse. By the time 2017 rolled around, the new owner needed to completely renovate the entire home, since it was essentially abandoned for all those years.

A bird’s eye view of Kinmel Hall. Credit: The Daily Post

8. Kinmel Hall, Abergele, UK Has a Room For Every Day of the Year

This unique manor called Kinmel Hall is an 1899’s chateau called “a calendar house”. This means it has 365 rooms- one for every day of the year. The owner, Hugh Robert Hughes, was a massively wealthy copper tycoon. Over the years, the house was bought by a few different families. Obviously, this home is so massive, it’s bigger than what most families can handle. In the 1920’s, it was turned into a boy’s school, and it continued to have many different lives as a health facility, and military housing. 

In 2011, a mysterious wealthy investor bought the hotel for just $1.9 million with plans to turn it into a hotel. However, the plans fell through. The hotel was never built, and the owner wrote it off as a loss. Since the owner lives in the Cayman Islands, he could care less about what happened to the historic house. So the mansion started to fall into disrepair. Once people heard that the house was unoccupied, looters began to steal the valuables off of the property. In 2015, it was added to the 10 Most Endangered Builds of the Victorian Era. Now, it’s estimated that the repairs to the castle would cost roughly $25 million.

This house was abandoned by Liza Minelli. Credit: Worldation

7. Liza Minnelli’s Evil Stepmother Ruined This Beverly Hills Home

Many of you might recognize Liza Minnelli as the daughter of Judy Garland. But she was also a famous actress and singer in her own right. Back in the 1950’s, Liza’s father Vincente Minnelli purchased a home in Beverly Hills. This house was designed by a famous Hollywood Regency architect named John Elgin Woolf. As a young girl, Liza grew up in that house, and had fond memories attached to the property. In 1986, Liza inherited the house from her father. However, in his last will and testament, her father wrote that his fourth wife Lee would be allowed to live in the house for as long as she lived.

For 14 years, this was fine. Liza was even generous enough to give stepmother #3 money every month to continue living her luxurious lifestyle. But things got ugly in 2000 when Liza Minnelli wanted to sell the house. She offered to buy Lee a new condo, but she refused to leave the mansion. Liza went through with the sale anyway, since the property was in her name. Two years later, the house sold, but Lee refused to move out. Liza stopped paying any bills, including the full staff Lee had helping her. Even though Liza was forced to pay rent on Lee’s behalf to the new owners. Since Liza had refused to pay for any more upkeep, and the new owners didn’t want to get near the problem, the mansion began to fall apart. It’s in such bad condition now, that it’s still abandoned. 

Michael Jackson’s former home in California. Credit: Business Insider

6. Only a Billionaire Could Afford to Buy Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, USA

Nearly everyone has heard of Michael Jackson’s famous home in California, Neverland Ranch. It is a massive property that contains his own amusement park. The mansion on the property has 6 bedrooms, and he even had his own zoo. Throughout the home, there is a Peter Pan theme, and Jackson claimed that he created this children’s paradise because he never wanted to grow up.

In 2003, Michael Jackson was charged with child abuse, and he was accused of using Neverland Ranch to lure in these kids. After the police searched his property, they couldn’t find any evidence, so he was acquitted. However, the situation made Jackson feel “violated”, so he decided to leave the property and never live in it again. In 2006, he fired all of the staff who were maintaining the house. He died in 2009, and the house remained abandoned until 2015. When the house first went on the market, the Jackson estate was asking an insane amount of $100 million. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to buy it. Five years later, a billionaire named Ron Burkle purchased the home for $22 million, because he wanted to develop the land.

Sunninghill Park was left to ruin after a divorce and scandal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5. Prince Andrew and Fergie’s Sunninghill Park

Sunninghill Park was a country house with a massive 665 piece of land located in Berkshire, England. It was owned by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and his wife Fergie, gifted to him from his mother. The mansion had 12 bedrooms, a huge reception room, horse stables, a swimming pool, and so much more. This house is also very close to his mother, The Queen’s Windsor Castle. Sunninghill Park was famous in the 1980’s and 90’s. It was considered to be one of the most flashy royal homes, with people giving it nicknames like “Southyork” and “Dallas Palace”, because people thought it looked like a ranch house. Basically, a lot of people made fun of how small and oddly American looking it was compared to most homes owned by English nobility.

Things started going downhill in 1996. Andrew and Fergie got a divorce, but they still lived in the same house for the sake of their two daughters. But in 2002, Prince Andrew moved into the Royal Lodge in Windsor, which was his grandmother’s former home. When the daughters grew older, they put Sunninghill Park on the market in 2006, and it sat empty. After all of the scandal involving Andrew with Jeffrey Epstein, no one wanted to touch the property. It was eventually purchased by a billionaire named Timur Kulibayev, but he has done nothing to fix or maintain the property. Finally in 2016, the house was torn down and replaced with a new mansion.

The Stonewall Jackson Reform School. Credit: Urbex Underground

4. The Abandoned Stonewall Jackson Reform School Could Become an Epic Mansion For a New Owner

Before the 1900’s, child criminals were sentenced to the same punishments as adults. In one famous trial, a 13-year old boy was sentenced to 3 years of hard labor in prison, all because he committed petty theft. The citizens of Concord, North Carolina felt that this was unfair, so they created the Stonewall Jackson Reform School. At its peak in the 1920’s, the reform school had over 200 students. The boys who went there would learn like any school. But they also had classes to teach them practical skills that could help them get a job later in life like farming, mechanics, barbering, shoemaking, and tailoring. Sadly, this wasn’t all good, and the school houses many horrors. At the time, North Carolina had a Eugenics Board. They sterilized boys who they considered too “feebleminded”.

Like most of these abandoned buildings, its use had a limited time span. In the 1970’s, the needs for the reform school changed. Now, only kids who were violent offenders were sent to juvenile prison. And with the welfare system and child protective services now in place, fewer impoverished children were committing petty crimes like stealing food. They created a new building, and the school was no longer used as it once was. The original 1909 school building was added to the National Historic Register, so it won’t be torn down. It still waits for a potential buyer to come along. Many people believe the building is haunted, and almost no one wants to tackle the amount of work required to restore the building.

This house was once the home of tennis champion Boris Becker. Credit: The Daily Mail

3. Tennis Champion Abandons His Mansion “Son Coll”

A few of you might recognize the name Boris Becker, because he was a professional tennis player from Germany. After winning multiple tournaments, he used that money to purchase a mansion called Son Coll on the island of Mallorca, Spain for $598,000 in 1997. Becker began doing huge renovations like adding a pool, basketball court, and guest house. However, he never got a building permit from the local government. He was forced to pay $255,000 in fines and tear down all of the additions. Unfortunately, like a lot of professional athletes, Becker went through his winnings without making smart investments. And the house was clearly a huge burden on his finances.

Clearly, this experience put a bad taste in Becker’s mouth. He no longer wanted to live in that holiday home, so he tried to sell it in 2007 for $18.4 million. Then, Becker failed to pay his gardener and contractors for their work, so they sued him. When he couldn’t come up with the money, the Spanish government had the right to confiscate his home until building work was paid. He had to declare bankruptcy in 2017, and lost Son Coll along with it. Afterwards, it remained abandoned. In 2018, The Sun reported that German hippies had begun squatting on the abandoned property, because they wanted to save it from ruin. In 2019, the court ordered the squatters to leave, and they were forcibly removed by police in 2020. The house is still abandoned, even now.

Clavernack College. Credit: Old House Calling

2. This Abandoned Mansion is a Now-Debunked College

This beautiful abandoned building in Elizaville, New York is the last remaining building of Clavernack College. Never heard of it? That’s because the school was only open from 1869 to 1902. Once the school closed, a family moved into the building, and it became a privately owned home. Then, it became a school once again, as well as a foster home for children. From 1988 until now, a Russian artists purchased the property. He transformed the 12 acres into a park-like setting with sculptures and walking trails. There is even a guest cottage and a theater on the property.

Now, when you see the photos of the interior of the mansion, it has been gutted. It’s no longer in a liveable state. There are some major issues, like a hole in the ceiling that would need to be repaired. Unfortunately, with properties like this, the longer it stays abandoned, the worse it will get. I truly hope someone buys this gorgeous property.

The front of Mike Tyson’s former mansion in Ohio. Credit: UrbexUnderground

1. Mike Tyson’s Abandoned Mansion

Since he was only 18 years old, Mike Tyson has been a heavyweight champion boxer. He became a multimillionaire at an early age, and purchased a mansion in Southington, Ohio in 1980. The mansion had a massive swimming pool, zebra carpets, crystal chandeliers, and more. At this peak net worth, Mike Tyson had $400 million. This epic lifestyle came to an end in 1992 when Tyson was imprisoned for sexual assault. Then in 1998, he was in a traffic accident. He got out of the car and physically assaulted the other drivers. Again, this got him in trouble with the law. Tyson’s life began spiraling downwards, and he began running into financial issues. By 2003, Mike Tyson declared bankruptcy. He called himself “totally destitute, and broke.” 

The mansion was purchased by a millionaire named Paul Monea for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Monea had ulterior motives behind buying the famous mansion. He was trying to sell a diamond called The Golden Eye, and set the price of the house for $20 million as a sort of package deal. He ended up getting caught by an FBI agent who was posing as an agent of a drug cartel leader, and this put Monea in jail for money laundering. In 2010, a millionaire health club entrepreneur named Ron Hemelgarn bought the property for just $600,000. Eventually, he gave up trying to build a health care club there, and donated it to a small church with 200 members called Living Word Sanctuary Church. Finally, after years of waiting, they were able to open in 2019.

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