Tour The Money Pit Mansion Too Expensive To Restore

In the heart of Florida, there’s an impressive Neo-Classical mansion known as the Money Pit Mansion. It has been vacant for decades, and its various owners have struggled to bring it back to its former grandeur due to the high expenses and significant damage it has suffered. Photographer Leland Kent from “Abandoned Southeast” has captured the essence of this historic home, and we invite you to step inside and discover its intriguing history.

This magnificent house was originally constructed by a Georgian entrepreneur who reportedly made his fortune in naval stores and lumber manufacturing in early 20th-century Florida. The construction of this opulent home, with its Grecian-style pillars, took three years and still stands as one of the most ornate mansions in the area.

Despite surviving World War II when many other grand early mansions in Florida did not, this mansion has since been deserted and has deteriorated over the years. Once a symbol of grandeur, it now features crumbling ceilings and peeling plasterwork. The entrance, while still imposing, has seen better days, with intricate glasswork surrounding the front door and ornate covings on the ceilings. Interestingly, in 1924, the original owner exchanged properties with the vice president of a local bank, in an unexpected house trade.

Over the years, the mansion changed hands several times. In the 1940s, it became a funeral parlor, and two decades later, it was transformed into a meeting hall, followed by conversion into apartments. The once-glamorous staircase now shows signs of decay, with safety tape replacing a banister, and the once-white paint has faded to grey due to neglect.

Once adorned with ornate mahogany columns and elaborate plasterwork, the hallway now bears the scars of numerous failed renovation attempts over the years, with tired paintwork and remnants of doors and panels. In 1990, the mansion faced foreclosure and was put up for sale, but without a buyer, its historic value was at risk, and demolition seemed imminent. However, a local couple came to the rescue, offering $88,000 (£67k) to save it. With extensive termite damage and an estimated repair cost exceeding $220,000 (£167k), the mansion faced a daunting road to recovery.

Today, the mansion stands mostly empty, except for abandoned renovation materials and a Civil War-era Charles M Steiff grand piano, valued at around $28,000 (£21k). This luxurious instrument sits in the downstairs parlour room, surrounded by damp, peeling walls and worn floorboards. The couple who initially saved the mansion had hoped to open it to the public as a historic library or wedding venue within five years, but dwindling donations and health issues forced them to leave the house dormant. Despite the visible damage, the ground floor has held up reasonably well, with a light-filled sitting room featuring stunning sash windows and archways.

It’s evident that the Money Pit Mansion still retains its beautiful period features, awaiting restoration. The dramatic staircase, which would have once been a centerpiece, leads to the first floor and beyond to the attic, offering further possibilities for revival.

According to Leland Kent of Abandoned Southeast, the city took over the restoration project in 1995, establishing a nonprofit organization to secure grants for the work. Even from the sparsely finished landing, one can envision the home’s intricate craftsmanship shining through after extensive renovation.

Despite being stripped of its original features, the upstairs landing still shows promise. What was once a grand, spacious hallway leading to elegant bedrooms has become a haunting, empty space with an unfinished ceiling and scattered debris on the floor.

With 11,000 square feet of space, the vast attic would have provided ample room for the original owner, the Georgia lumber tycoon, and his large family. Featuring intricate beams and original woodwork, the vaulted room is truly remarkable, though its purpose in the past remains a mystery, as it now holds building materials with little trace of its former life.

In 2005, a new board took over from the city’s nonprofit organization, but during the 2008 recession, state grants became unavailable, halting the project. Unfortunately, it appears unlikely that this vintage electrical system will be operational anytime soon.

Now, nearly twenty-five years since restoration efforts began, this grand mansion remains empty, struggling to secure the funds needed to restore it to its former glory. Left to the mercy of the elements, the future of this desolate property remains uncertain.

Must Read