Every town has that one house that the kids call spooky. That one house that is the lifeblood every middle school dare. That one house that has so much history in it that lies forgotten.
The house in this story is the Howey Mansion sitting in a town in central Florida. The town was actually named after the owner of the mansion himself.
It started off when William John Howey was born on January 19, 1876, in Odin, Illinois. At the tender age of 16, he already began starting his business ventures. By 1900, he was developing land and towns for the railroad in Oklahoma. In 1903, he started Howey Motor Car company in Kansas and, in total, he was able to make seven cars until he closed his business.
Things began to get better in 1908 where he found himself in Winter Haven, Florida. By then he had already perfected his citrus farming and sales technique program.
His plan was to buy raw land and develop it with mature citrus groves that he could then sell to businessmen so he could earn from the purchase deal and from every step of the citrus cultivation.
In 1914, he began buying land at $8 to $10 per acre and developed it with 48 citrus tree per acre. He then sold the developed land for $800 to $2,000 to investors. Investors went crazy over his offer because he also had a no-risk guarantee. If the buyer chose to hire his company to also maintain the land, and then it didn’t turn into profit within the set amount of time, then he would buy the land back for the original cost, plus interest.
Howey was considered Florida’s greatest citrus developer and investors flocked to him. Long story short, he built “Bougainvillea,” a boarding quarters to house his investors. Unfortunately, in 1920, it burned to the ground, but Howey turned around and built a mansion on the same land, which was completed in 1927.
Howey, along with his wife and daughter, Lois, lived in the mansion. Howey died in 1938, while his wife Mary Grace Hastings lived in the mansion for years until her death on December 18, 1981.
In 1984, Marvel Zona purchased the home for $400,000. The mansion has been a witness to a reverse mortgage, public tours, potential buyers, vandals, trespassing, and the like.
In 2015, Marvel Zona passed away at 97. The mansion’s ownership was transferred a mortgage lender named Nationstar Mortgage LLC.
Since then, Nationstar has been trying to sign the house up with a historic society to tie up loose ends. For two years, they had no luck, so just this first week of April, they announced that is in up in the market for $480,000.
Just five minutes after the announcement, interested buyers blew up the listing agent’s phone. People from near and far drove to the site in an attempt to secure it.
These people were afraid that as time goes by, the price would go higher than they can afford, so they flocked right away to try to purchase the mansion.
H/T: Messy Nessy Chic
Image via Abandoned FL.