Built in Lake County Florida, this impressive 7,200 square-foot home was the result of William J. Howey’s hard work and vision, but today sits empty and entangled in an on-going legal struggle.
Mr. Howey was born in Illinois in 1876 and started his career selling insurance before trying his hand at various enterprises, including car manufacturing and pineapple farming. By the early 1900’s, he had made his way to Florida where he began his most successful endeavors in citrus and real estate development.
As a result of his success, Howey was able to build this Mediterranean style mansion in 1925, complete with a ballroom with handpainted 30 foot ceilings. The home was fit for entertaining high society, and to celebrate its completion, that is exactly what Howey did. 15,000 people would attend his free concert, hosted on his lawn, with the entire 100-artist New York Civic Opera Company to perform. The 4,000 cars that delivered the attendants were parked on this very site.
Howey would live in his beloved home until 1938, when he passed away at the age of 62. His widow, Mary Grace, also lived here until her passing in 1981. They are both interred at the family mausoleum on site, along with their daughter Lois.
The home now sits in stable but concerning condition. It is presently wrapped up in legal woes that have prevented anyone from taking on the task of preserving the place appropriately. In the meantime, the house has a caretaker who has been work to protect the place for a few years now. You can follow the project on Facebook here.
If you would like to see interior photographs of this building, or to learn more about its story, please check out our friend Abandoned Florida’s post about the Howey Mansion.
[**This building is privately owned, not accessible to the public, and patrolled by local police**]
[Camden County, GA]
According to locals, Moody’s roadside BBQ stand was a favorite for years, both to travelers and neighbors alike. I haven’t been able to track down when it opened, or when they served their last plate of supper, but it certainly is well missed by those who frequented it.
[Vintage Photo c. 1960’s-70’s from unidentified source, shared from Vanishing South Georgia]
[Berrien County, GA c. 1904]
Built around 1904, the mayor of a nearby town lived in this home, which was formerly situated within the city limits.
A relative of the original family has purchased and relocated it to this beautiful location with plans of restoring her.
*Thanks to the Vanishing South Georgia project for tracking down information on the history of this awesome old home*
[Union County, FL c. early 1900’s]
Once called the Green General Store, this building was located in a nearby town in Columbia County, then moved to this spot by Nelson Croft in the 1950’s. It was then used to store tobacco and is presently used by its owners for storage as well.
[Alachua County, FL c. 1900’s]
This haint colored shack has always been a favorite of mine, despite its desparate need for some new paint. This color is popular throughout the South, but has a storied past that many aren’t aware of.
Check out the history of the color (or range of colors) called ‘Haint’ blue!
This quaint cabin has dual entrances for guests who were traveling through the area, or visiting the nearby fishing camp. Thanks to local, Shannon Lee Burns, for help with identification, background, and vintage image of this historic property:
“The several small cottages were built in the mid-1920s on a fish camp for Lake Magnolia. In the 30’s several small houses from nearby were added to the complex. This was one of the first motels for the burgeoning auto oriented Florida tourist trade and it included a communal bath house and a restaurant. I believe six of the cottages still exist.”
You can visit Shannon’s project called the “Real Old Florida” here
[Citrus County, FL c. 1920’s]
Deep in rural Alabama sits this incredible structure, like a dog-eared page reminding us of a very old book. Built in the decade just before the Civil War, this Presbyterian Church was probably built by slaves from a nearby plantation. Imagine how much the world around this place would change in just a few short years and how different life would be for its congregation.
Notice the four separate entryways, required for men, women, and slaves to enter separately. The small doorways to the sides of the main doors leading up to the slave gallery, still in tact today, but inhabited only by a large and less than friendly owl.
[View of the ‘Slave Gallery’ from the pulpit]
The Greek Revival style building is surrounded on both sides of this idyllic property by just over 30 graves, dating from 1843 to the most recent in 1955. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, it is now privately owned and being looked after as best as possible by its current owners who placed a new roof on the building in the past 5 years. The front doors have been stolen, along with some other wood, and fixtures, but the structure is largely void of vandalism or significant structural damage.
Standing in front of a place like this one, somewhere down a dirt road, and far from home, I still can muster up a connected feeling to the people who built it and lived their lives on this property. The woman who might’ve stood here in 1853 and myself, standing here 162 years later have very different lives, but it makes me smile to think that we both got to stand in awe of such an incredible structure.
[SW Alabama, c. 1853]
William would build this house for his new wife, Annie, shortly after their marriage in 1903. He had been operating a Naval Mercantile store that had become quite successful and they would have this beautiful home to show for it. Sitting just along the railroad tracks that were so crucial to the family’s success, they would call this place home until the 1920’s.
After 20 years of marriage, Annie passed away in 1923, leaving William to raise their 3 children. But however difficult it must’ve been, he continued to grow the family business and by 1927, was serving on the Florida Legislature.
A few years later and William had married his second wife, Pencie. Naturally, they would need to build a new home for themselves and did so on the same property, set back further from the tracks. Shortly after, in-laws moved in to this house and reported for years that Annie would still appear in the home, usually somewhere near the fireplaces.
William and Pencie would have 4 children of their own, but sadly, all would not end well for this family. In 1938, William passed away tragically in his new home on this property and Pencie, at age 32, was left to raise the children by herself, the youngest being only 2 months old.
But she did what most people did back then and figured out a way to support herself and her children. She quickly took up teaching as a profession and continued as an educator for the Jackson County School Board for 35 years. She continued to live on this piece of land until her death in 2008 at the age of 102.
[Jackson County, FL c. early 1900’s]
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what its like inside these forgotten homes, I will tell you that each one of them is different. Each one has a different feeling, a different set of clues left behind, and a different story to tell.
Many of them have been stripped of everything down to fixtures and cabinets while others sit full of so many things that you wonder if someone might be walking in the door at any moment.
This home held some of the more interesting artifacts I’ve seen thus far and this jacket is just one of them. Who’s was it and why did they leave it behind? Where did they buy it and how much did it cost? What did they keep in the pockets and what did they wear it to?
The more I look at this image, the more my imagination spins.
[North Florida- home c. 1890’s]