Founded in 1885, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) uses this gorgeous townhouse as its headquarters. ASPR “seeks to advance the understanding of psychic phenomena.” The Beaux-Arts style, 8-story townhouse overlooks the infamous Dakota. Measuring nearly 10,000 square feet, the townhouse has 18 rooms, 9 fireplaces imported from Italy; at least one vintage restroom; and an old–possibly original–elevator. It is listed at $15 million dollars.
This is the 4th time in as many years that ASPR has listed the property. In 2019, it was listed at $17,995,000. The price was lowered in 2020 to $17 million. Last year the price was slashed again to $15,750,000. This is quite the gem!
Halloween is a great time to sell a house, especially if it is associated with a movie franchise worth over $457 million dollars. The 1919 Dutch Colonial from Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is for sale.
Located at 1428 N. Genesee Avenue in L.A., this 2-story house has ample room. The main house has 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. Leading outside passed the pool, a smaller guesthouse comes complete with a kitchen. However, the house has not always looked so enticing.
In 2006, Angie Hill purchased the neglected home and began renovating. Once the home was modernized—even though it had a 1960 vibe—Ms. Hill sold the home for $2.1 million in 2013.
The listed selling price is $3.25 million, with offers due at midnight on Halloween. The listing agency has embraced Freddy Krueger, the killer in the films, and has a person dressed as the murderous janitor posing in some of the publicity photos. Quite clever!
In 1990, director Tim Burton transformed the Carpenters Run neighborhood into a bizarre movie set for the film Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. Although the houses have aged and regressed back to the typical Florida décor, the neighborhood has attracted fans since. On September 11, 2020, Joey and Sharon Licalzi won a bidding war and paid $230,378 for the 3 bedroom/2 bath 1432 square foot home. They’ve transformed it back into the movie set and have opened Scissorland, a free museum.
Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a cult classic. Filmed on a $20 million dollar budget, it grossed $56 million in the U.S. and $86 million worldwide. Deemed one of Burton’s best (aren’t they all?), the film was a fantasy-romance hybrid that told the story of Edward, the man with scissor hands. The movie is currently streaming on Hulu.com.
Fast forward 30 years and you can see how the neighborhood changed. Gone are the pastel color exterior house paint and topiary scrubs. However, Joey and Sharon have started the transformation.
The exterior is now a pastel blue, and the front yard is adorned with topiaries. The backyard is a whimsical playground. The original owner saved the mushroom wallpaper, which the couple reinstalled. They offer the home with the growing movie memorabilia as a free museum. Outdoor movie screenings will begin when the weather cools.
The memorabilia are an eclectic collection. There’s a license plate that the residents had to place on their cars for filming. A pack of cigarettes supposedly belonging to Depp is on display, along with an endearing mannequin dressed as Depp’s character. The collection continues to grow.
Although reservations are not required, I encourage those wishing to visit make them. Remember, not only is the house a museum: the couple actually resides there. The address is 1774 Tinsmith Circle, Lutz, Pasco County, Florida.
Two lucky residents of the United Kingdom will spend £95 to spend one night in Winnie the Pooh’s house. The open dates are September 24th and 25th, which coincides with the 95th anniversary of A.A. Milne’s first publication of the adorable honey loving bear.
The one-room house has all the hallmarks of Pooh’s house. Kim Raymond, who has illustrated the Pooh books for 30 years, incorporated small details into the construction of the house, which sits along the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England. A.A. Milne lived here and based his famous Hundred Acre Wood on the forest.
The guests receive a guided tour of the wood, along with honey-inspired meals. They will also play Poohsticks on Poohstick Bridge and enjoy naps in the cozy beds.
The outside façade has Pooh’s tree and the “Mr. Sanders” sign. The mystery surrounding who Mr. Sanders was remains; however, the house has been beautifully realized. I hope that the house will be open on future dates for international tourists.
There’s a photograph making the rounds on the Internet of a supposed apparition of a young girl peering through a window at Eastbury Manor House. The image is too blurry to definitively state that Joanne Puffett and Diane De-Groot captured a ghost in the photograph. However, the location is worth discussing.
Barking Abbey, located in Barking, London, England, was a large monastery established in 666 AD. It remained viable until King Henry VIII dissolved all British monasteries in 1539. Only the Curfew Tower remains today. In 1551, the land was sold off. Clement Sisley purchased a plot in 1557 and built the first red brick Elizabethan gentry house in the area. Construction was from 1560-1573. The home was originally called Estburie Hall.
Clement Sisley (1504-1578) and his much younger wife Anne Argall (1547-1610) lived in the home with their 4 young children. Even though Clement was of the gentry class (wealthy landowner who lived totally on rental income), he was in serious debt when he died in 1578. Anne sought financial security through her second husband, Augustine Steward (d. 1597). Ownership of Eastbury remained in the family until 1629.
Ownership of Eastbury fell through many hands over the centuries. The National Trust (England) purchased the home in 1918 and restored it. The home is an H-shape with an inner courtyard. Although most of the land once owned by the Sisley family has long been sold, the house does boast two gardens: a Tudor herb garden and a walled garden. The walled garden houses bee-boles. “Bole” is a Scottish word for recess in a wall. Rows of recessed bee boles help bees proliferate.
But the question of the day is whether Eastbury Manor House is haunted. It probably is. The most familiar legend tells of the house being haunted by a young girl that only women can see. That certainly fits the narrative of the photograph. However, there is a lesser-known variation where it is a young girl and a woman who haunt the dwelling.
I’m curious about whom might the girl—and woman—be. Records from the 1500s are scarce, possibly lost to fire. Luckily, the house does hold paranormal events. At this time, though, the home is closed due to COVID. (Note: Joanne and Diane merely walked outside the house, where they took the picture.) Check the website, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/eastbury-manor-house, to see when the home reopens. And I will add the house to my bucket list.
This court case, formally known as 169 A.D.2d 254 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991), is covered in nearly every law school class. Yet, many people falsely believe that the New York Supreme Court ruled the 1890 Queen Anne house located at 1 LaVeta Place, Nyack, NY was indeed haunted. What the Court did say was, “As a matter of law, the house is haunted.” Actually, the decision of whether or not the house was haunted was not before the Court. This case was a contract case; however, people enjoy discussing decades later. What is news: The “Ghostbusters House” recently sold.
Helen and George Ackley purchased the stately, though in desperate need of repair, 3-story, 4,628 square foot home in 1967. During their ownership, Helen boasted about three ghosts who resided with the family. One was a woman in a hoop skirt and the other was a Revolutionary War era couple called Sir George and Lady Margaret. (Sir George was dressed in a red coat and thus British.) Helen recounted the hauntings in the Reader’s Digest May 1977 article “Our Haunted House on the Hudson.” The instances were innocuous. Coins and trinkets left for the children. Gentle shaking of the daughter’s bed to get her up for school. Full bodied apparition nodding approvingly of the wall color choice. Helen took advantage of retelling the tales and included the house on haunted ghost tours. For all who resided in the tiny hamlet knew the house to be haunted. The couple who did not know were Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky.
Jeffrey and Patrice entered an agreement to purchase the home in 1990. They ponied up $35,200 in escrow funds and started learning about the small town of Nyack. They became concerned when local residents started telling them about the haunted house. That was when Jeffrey and Patrice wanted out of the contract and the escrow monies refunded. The Ackleys were unmoved.
The case wound its way up to the highest Court in New York. In the 1991 opinion, the Court found that the Stambovskys could, in fact, get their money back as they were not locals and did not know of the house as being haunted. The Court reasoned that the house was haunted “as a matter of law” since Helen Ackley endeavored to promote the house as such. Helen encouraged the label of “haunted” to be placed upon the house. She profited, if not monetarily, but by reputation. The case appeared to upend the widely held view of caveat emptor, or buyer beware. Indeed, Justice Rubin wrote how this case was an exception to strict application because of the facts and Helen’s silence.
Ownership has been steady over the decades since the Court’s decision. After the Stambovskys were able to get out of the contract, Canadian filmmaker Adam Brooks purchased and lived there for more than 20 years. American singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson resided there from 2012-2015, only to list the property due to her long-term absence from the large house. She felt the home “enchanting—but not creepy.” Simply put, she wasn’t there enough to justify the expense. American rapper Matisyahu purchased in 2015 and has been attempting to unload it since 2019.
Originally listed on September 18, 2019, for $1.9 million, the price has lowered until it finally sold on March 29, 2021, for $1,795,000. Not too bad for a home that Justice Rubin believed whose owners would suffer financially if the Stambovsky contract were to be enforced.
So, what happened to the three ghosts? Every owner since Brooks has maintained that the home is not haunted.
Growing up in Fort Myers, I was fortunate to have parents who owned a boat. We would spend weekends out on the water, eating on Little Shell Island, and motoring up and down the Gulf of Mexico. When we were making it an all-day affair, we would head down to Collier County and look at the three odd houses perched on Cape Romano. The most famous was and remains the Dome House.
I didn’t appreciate my youth living on a canal where manatees swam and seahorses grew until I left. I guess that’s the age-old adage. Many years later and well into my adult life, I was able to spend the day on the water sailing past Cape Romano. While the Pyramid House and the Stilt House are long gone, the Dome House remains.
Bob Lee made his fortune in the oil industry which led to his ability to retire at the age of 44 and become an inventor. He envisioned an eco-friendly home where his family could vacation. The home would be off the grid and powered with renewable energy. He first built a prototype on his property in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
In 1978, Bob purchased four lots on Morgan Island in the Ten Thousand Island chain south of Marco Island, Collier County, Florida. The island was pristine, unlike the rapid development taking over Marco.
Bob decided to build a home linking 6 dome structures all perched on cement stilts. Bob bought a barge, a flat motorized water vessel that easily transports equipment, and ferried over steel forms (molds) and 2 concrete mixers. He mixed the concrete with freshwater and built the domes. Bob installed under-dome heating via fire; the walls were insulated with foam. Dell Jones installed solar panels. Along the bottom of each dome was a gutter system the collected rainwater which was filtered for use.
If the house seems rustic, you’re wrong. It was actually quite lavish. Pinterest has a large collection of images. Carpet and tile were laid for flooring. There was air conditioning, satellite TV, and even a hot tub. It was the perfect vacation getaway.
The 2400 square foot 3-bedroom and 3-bathroom house was completed in 1982. Bob along with his wife Margaret and family enjoyed two years at the house. In 1984, Bob sold the property to George Wendell. Caretaker Brian Slager moved into the house. By 1987, the house was back in Bob’s name, and the family made it their primary residence.
John Tosto of Naples purchased the lots in 2005 for $300,000. He sought to develop and protect the home. Bob encouraged building a seawall; however, it was too late. The island was eroding beyond conservation.
Mother Nature has not been kind to the island chain. All three houses had generous beach sand buffering them from the water. Over time, erosion and natural weather phenomena took away the sand. In 1992, the category 5 Hurricane Andrew destroyed the interior of the Dome House. By October 2005 when Hurricane Wilma churned past, the sand was eroded further. Two of the 6 domes fell on September 10, 2017, in Hurricane Irma.
After several years in court battling the land use of the Dome House, the State of Florida now owns the land while Tosto owns the structures. The house sits in the water and has become part of the Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserve. It is a destination for tourists and urban explorers. Sea creatures and birds have made it their home. Nature has reclaimed what was always hers.
The house is viewable only by water. As the erosion continues, there are growing fears for the safety of boats attempting to anchor or to sail close. Hire a licensed boat captain or company to sightsee. Never attempt to trespass.
Cape Romano is an island just south of Marco Island, off Naples, in Collier County, Florida. Back before climate change was mainstream, people purchased lots of these fragile islands and built houses. Of the three on Cape Romano, the Dome House is the most famous. (Blog forthcoming). However, personally, I’m captivated by the Pyramid House. Not only did the family live in the structure, they brought their pets to join them in island bliss…until it wasn’t.
Cape Romano is the southern point in a chain of islands making up the Ten Thousand Islands off just south of Marco Island. At some point in the 1060s, entrepreneurial salesmen decided to sell plots on the beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. This was Florida’s “I’ve got a bridge to sell you” land scam. It was also before climate change became our generations danger.
Montague “Monte” Innes convinced his wife, Judy, that he could build a house on the island where they could live an almost off-the-grid lifestyle. And it worked for several years.
According to a recent interview with Judy, the plot was on Caxambas Island, part of the Ten Thousand Island chain. (Note: the landscape of the island chain has substantially shifted with erosion. The island boundaries have changed over the years.) Monte purchased a barge to bring over the supplies and with the assistance of a friend named Harry, they constructed the 3-story cedar pyramid-shaped house.
Honestly, Monte, and with the Dome house builder Bob Lee, were decades before their time. Both men devised ways for the families to survive and thrive with solar power for Bob and windmills for Monte, generators, and water filtration systems. Judy and Monte even had a waterbed! Monte used extra pilings to secure the floor.
The house had rooms butted against the front wall and a large 3-story lanai along the back. What made the Pyramid special were 4 golden mirrors placed upon the top. Sunshine reflected off the mirrors, resembling the Egyptian pyramids. The other feature consisted of a menagerie of animals Judy kept. Monte built 5 aviaries for Judy to breed birds. Five emus had full run of the island.
Online forums house postings from people from all over who passed via boats the homes while growing up. As the homes were only accessible by watercraft, the homeowners had to bring over supplies and animals on barges. The horses are the most discussed topic. Judy brought over two horses, Notice Me (Twiggy) and Koko individually in a horse trailer fastened to the barge. They arrived in 1978. By May of 1987, Judy removed the horses and relocated them to her Naples property.
The youngest daughter, Heather, was a high school student while residing on the island. Each school day, she took a small John boat to Marco Island to get to school. What an incredible life!
In 1988, Judy was injured while riding a horse and never returned to the island. Monte and Judy divorced; Heather would look after the animals and began to bring them to mainland.
Shortly after Judy and Monte sold the pyramid house to a couple from Ohio, it sustained great damage from a hurricane. Judy says a tornado brought down the house.
Erosion, however, was always on their minds. When they constructed the pyramid, there was roughly 2,000 feet between the house and the water. Rapid erosion quickly diminished the distance, and then Mother Nature finished it off.
The area is not haunted—that I know of. However, it is a part of my childhood, having seen the houses and heard the talk, and I wanted to share that Florida is known for some odd things. And a cedar pyramid on an island in South Florida is one of them!
In 1897, architect Horace Trumbauer commenced construction of a 70,000 square foot home consisting of 55 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms at 920 Spring Avenue, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. The 110-room Neoclassical Revival Lynnewood Hall was completed in 1900. The owner, Peter Arrell Brown Widener (known as P.A.B. Widener), had known grief even before moving in.
P.A.B. Widener grew up poor. He trained as a butcher and saved his earnings. During the Civil War, Peter was able to secure a government grant to supply mutton to Union troops. Peter turned the $50,000 in 1860 dollars and co-founded the Philadelphia Traction Company. In 1858, he married Hannah Josephine Dunton, known as Josephine. Together they built one of the wealthiest family empires in America.
The couple’s hard work paid off. They amassed a fortune beyond belief, all the while remaining true to their Episcopalian beliefs. However, like all families, they suffered their share of heartbreak. Their firstborn child, Harry Kern Widener, died of typhoid fever when he was about 11 years old in 1871.
As P.A.B. began to wind down his business dealings, he purchased a yacht, christened Josephine after his beloved wife. The large vessel was fully staffed and prepped for a 2-year cruise around the world in 1896. Peter and Josephine were joined onboard with the remaining sons, Joseph E. and George Dunton, and their families. The vessel was heading to Bar Harbor, Maine before heading off on the worldwide voyage. Josephine was not well leading up to the trip and was eager to set sail for warmer climates to heal. However, on the evening of July 31, 1896, the physician was called twice to attend to Josephine. Believing she was resting comfortably for the night, the doctor returned the following morning to find her dead from heart disease. The Philadelphia newspapers were bereft in the sudden death of the beloved citizen. Mrs. Widener’s corpse was returned via the Reading Railroad for her final resting place in the family mausoleum. In 1898, Harry would be reinterred beside his mother.
Although P.A.B. did find a small amount of pleasure sailing aboard the Josephine, he turned his attention elsewhere: Building a large home to house his growing family and his huge art collection.
Lynnewood Hall “dripp[ed]” in luxurious items. Nothing was spared in the décor. By now, P.A.B. decided to invest in the International Mercantile Marine company with J.P. Morgan. Int’l Merc owned the White Star Line, and their infamous ship the RMS Titanic. Peter’s third son George, his wife Eleanor, and adult son Harry Elkins boarded the ship on her maiden voyage to return from Europe. Although Eleanor and one servant survived by boarding one of the lifeboats reserved for 1st Class passengers, George, Harry, and the other servant were not so lucky. They drowned when the ship sank in 1912. This added more heartbreak to Peter, who by now was residing in Lynnewood Hall.
On November 6, 1915, Peter was found dead in his bed at the sprawling estate.
Third son Joseph, who was living on the grounds with his family, ran the estate up until 1942. During that time, Joseph would open the vast—and expensive—art gallery to the public in June and October. Joseph donated over 2,000 pieces of art to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. P.A.B. may have begun collecting art as a novice, but he along with Joseph built one of the largest and best private collections in the world. The pieces were on display throughout the house and grounds earning Lynnewood Hall the description: The House that Art Built. The collection was valued at nearly $50 million dollars in 1924.
Joseph died in 1943, and none of the heirs showed interest in maintaining a mansion of this scale. It sold for $130,000 in 1948 and again in 1952 for $192,000 to the Faith Theological Seminary, run by Carl McIntire. It has essentially been abandoned since 1952. However, another religious organization, First Korean Church of New York, is the current owner. When the church was denied a property tax exemption on the 33-acre property, the church decided to sell. The mansion initially listed at $20 million dollars. The last time it was online for sale, it was priced at $11 million. That listing has been deactivated.
The house may be salvageable. At least for now. If I had the connections, I would form a company to purchase the building and land and set about rezoning for multiple housing, whereby people can purchase expansive condos in the subdivided building and create a subdivision honoring the past while providing the necessities of today. There once was an electricity plant on the original property. I would get it back up and running.
My dream may not be too far off the mark. I’ve read of one developer seeking to create a high-end B&B model for the uber wealthy. I’m unsure that is the demographic who would love the opportunity to explore. Personally, I think the cash cow option is paranormal investigations to see if the “ghost” stories of three gentlemen haunting the estate are true.