Our haunted Travel Tuesdays are coming to a close, my spooky friends. And what a fun summer we’ve had hitting up spooky spots all over the United States! Just in case you missed any, here is a reminder of where we’ve been:
- I kicked the summer off by taking us to America’s Most Haunted Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- The Spooky Vegan showed us southern California isn’t all sunshine and surf with 5 haunted spots in Orange County, California
- On the Fourth of July, we visited three haunted American battlefields
- Mr. and Mrs. Halloween gave us a behind-the-scenes look at a ghost tour in Lawrenceville, Georgia
- Paranormal author Tui Snider took us on a tour of Mineral Wells, Texas
- And Matt Woods, creator of Pumpkinhead on Instagram, shared his top spots to visit in Sleepy Hollow, New York
Today I wanted to bring things back home and share a cool spot in Houston you should check out when you visit. Last summer I put together a list of 8 haunted locations in the Bayou City – many of which are well-known.
But none are quite like the Mystery Mansion on Wichita Street…
2309 Wichita Street is just 1.6 miles away from the Spooky Little Apartment. While it isn’t clear whether or not the house is actually haunted, it’s kind of like our own local Winchester Mystery House!
Here’s the back story:
The structure was built in 1935, and in addition to being a home over the past 80+ years, it has also served as duplex apartments and even a day care center in the 1960s. 1980, however, is when Charlie Fonden purchased the home and things began to get interesting.
When it was purchased, the home had sat vacant for five years, was infested with termites and had no air conditioning. For most people in Houston, the lack of air conditioning alone would be a deal breaker.
But not Fonden – he had a vision.
Inspired by his love of architecture, Fonden set to work repairing the home. When Hurricane Alicia took off the house’s roof in 1983, Fonden decided this was his opportunity to expand. Instead of replacing the roof, he built a full third story onto the home, complete with a pair of turrets.
From there, the house began to grow. A 2001 interview with the Houston Press suggests the nonstop renovations came from a love of building with Popsicle sticks as a child. The article says Fonden would build structures with the sticks, only to burn them down and build again – this time bigger and better.
Over the years, the house grew more: a circular deck here, an elevator there. The expansion was slow but never stopped and was never a challenge – the real challenge was finding contractors who would give estimates prior to taking on the work. Fonden’s plans weren’t for an ordinary Houston home, after all. He finally found two independent contractors and a structural engineer to work with.
That work continued right up to Fonden’s death in 2011. (He fell ill in Barbados while on a cruise and passed away before returning home.)
The home was bought by a bank following Fonden’s death and sat vacant for three years before it was purchased yet again in 2014, this time by a real estate investor. (And purchased for nearly double the asking price are an alleged $251,000.)
It’s worth noting that Houston has no zoning laws and most older properties bought these days are immediately bulldozed in favor of more modern homes or, *cringe*, yet another highrise apartment building…
Thankfully, the new owner, Nick Ugarov, says he will restore the home and complete the renovations Fonden wasn’t able to complete himself.
For now, I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see what happens next to our local mystery mansion.
By the way, you can take a peek inside over on Swamp Lot’s website.
So now that we’ve traveled the country finding spooky spots to vacation…
Which #TravelTuesday spot would you most like to visit?
As always, share your thoughts in the comments.
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