The Howey Mansion
Built in 1925, this 8,832 square foot, 8 bedroom, 7.5 bath, 20 room home was built in the Mediterranean Revival style by architect Katherine Cotheal Budd. Budd was known for her “hostess home” design, and the Howey Mansion is likely the only existing example of her work. Perhaps the coolest feature of the home (besides a hidden passageway in the wall in the library) is a fireproof, tumbler lock, hidden basement the Howey’s insisted on installing. The home was built during prohibition and rumor has it the Howey’s needed a place to safely and discreetly store their booze!
Nestled on (now) 3.63 acres, the mansion was owned by William John Howey, the first citrus developer in Florida. He was a businessman, entrepreneur, and even the town mayor. He lived in the home with his wife and two children. After dying of a heart attack in 1938, his wife continued to live on the property until her death in 1981. Howey, his wife and two children are all buried on the grounds in a mausoleum.
The property was abandoned in 2008 and sat vacant until 2017 when it was listed as a foreclosure. How much did the Howey Mansion sell for? While listed at $480,000 by rockstar agent Lori Wall, there were 10 offers in just a few days and ultimately sold for $630,000 by a real estate investor couple who have now turned it into a (quite pretty!) wedding venue. They spent around $1 million dollars to bring this incredible home back to its former glory. Check it out here.
So why is this home rumored to be haunted? In the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was actually open for tours. But once abandoned (and foreclosed on) in 2008, it became straight up creepy. The marble floors had been stripped, the landscaping and vegetation became overgrown and garish, the exterior walls and roof turned black with decay and deterioration. Thrill seekers and photographers broke in, daring each other to stay the whole night, documenting ghosts sightings. Rumors flew of Howey himself wandering the halls, and even little girls with eyes black as night, sitting on the lawn screaming at passerby’s.
Is this home actually haunted? Not sure, but the pictures are creepy enough for me.
Would I visit? 100% yes, let’s go right now!
Would I stay the night? Absolutely not.