So it turns out that people may not want to live in a murder mansion. Go figure.
And if you're Seabrook resident Nir Golan, you don't want to live in a mansion that's been built on and/or near the site of a murder mansion either. Even if you're unsure as to the actual location of the original house.
You see, Nir Golan leased a waterfront house off of Todville Road in Seabrook recently, but he was apparently unaware that his rental steal with scenic views also came with a sinister history, and according to Golan, ghosts.
Golan claims those ghosts and creepy apparitions are because his rental house, and the entire subdivision, are built right on the plot of land where the Todville Murder Mansion -- or the List Mansion, in less dramatic terms -- used to sit.
The List Mansion on Todville Road was a sprawling, multistory home overlooking the Galveston Bay. Built by multimillionaire and known sex offender Bill List, who did a prison stint in 1959 for molesting teenage boys, the home came complete with an indoor swimming pool, a glass wall overlooking the bay, and a catwalk that connected the two wings.
As a bonus, the mansion also looked like a prison from the exterior view, and came complete with burglar bars on the exterior windows, making for quite a difficult exit, should anyone -- or teenage boys, perhaps -- want to get out.
Good ol' Bill used that sprawling mansion to house the teenage boys he'd pick up in Montrose, who he would have "house sit." The Todville Mansion was always full of boys, who he'd ply with drugs and alcohol in return for sex.
List went about his creepy mansion business undisturbed, right up to the day that one of those teenage boys -- Elbert Ervin Homan, or "Smiley -- shot him upon his return home in '84.
The mansion sat unoccupied for many years, with virtually no interest from buyers, despite it remaining on the market. A number of caretakers came in and out, but reports of strange creatures and shadows were abundant from them, so no one stayed long.
The place finally burned to the ground and was demolished, only to be replaced by the neighborhood that Golan is now renting in a decade later. And Golan, who claims he didn't know the story of the Todville Murder Mansion, is apparently creeped out by the entire situation.
But dude. It's not like this story isn't layered into Houston's history. It's a relatively well-known murder mansion, and people have been talking about the story for decades. The neighborhood that sits right next to where the List Mansion was -- Bay Vista -- even changed its name from "Gay Vista" to deter attention from the area. Perhaps Golan should have done his homework on the creepy murders in the area, no?
But don't worry, Golan. If you get out of that lease, and we're hoping for you cause ghosts and all, we wouldn't want you to make the same mistake again. So call us your ghost mansion knights in shining armor, cause we're here to help you from renting a creepy house where a murder mansion once sat.
Here are five other creepy mansions in Houston, for your reading -- and educational -- enjoyment. Or perhaps for your lease agreement, if you're Golan.
5. Wichita Street Mystery House So we're not saying that we know too terribly much about the history of this creepy old place, other than it's kind of cool in a strangely unnerving way, what with all the turrets and such, but we do know that there's a good chance we wouldn't want to accidentally sign our life away on a lease to it. Or on the deed to it, for that matter. It is for sale, after all.
So the former owner, Charles Fondow, spent about 31 years of his life on the never-ending renovation project for this Riverside Terrace home. He sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into the ongoing renovations, adding a slew of strange aesthetics, from coffered ceilings to turrets and gables. The project was ongoing until Fondow passed away at a hospital in Barbados after falling ill on a cruise, and the house has been for sale several times since.
Sinister? Meh. But it sure is a bit creepy, and we think Golan should steer clear of it, considering he's weirded out by a house that sits on a plot of land where one person died once, a long time ago. We can't imagine what a mystery house would do.
This story continues on the next page.
4. Pearland Mystery Mansion Look, we're not saying anything sinister happened here, but you really should look into how creepy this Pearland mansion is. This home was built more recently than most of the others, but it's every bit as unnerving.
Also, we don't even want to sort of know what was up with the idea of adding a stage, or the indoor pool with no windows, to a home like this. Golan, it may be offered up for sale again, and it may indeed be appealing if it's offered at a good deal, but perhaps it would be wiser to steer clear of this place.
3. Ashton Villa The Ashton Villa is a historic Galveston Island home that was built by wealthy businessman James Moreau Brown in 1859, prior to the Civil War. It's an enormous 3-story home with ornate rooms and magnificent staircases. And as magnificent as it is, it's also equally creepy, mainly because it's referred to as the most haunted building in America.
The home, which has survived a number of massive storms, including the Great Storm of 1900, where 6,000 people died and the island was left abandoned, and is also a historical marker for Galveston during the Civil War.
You see, Ashton Villa served as not only the Brown abode, but as the headquarters and hospital for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Galveston's surrender to the Union Army took place in the ornate living room, or the "Gold Room," as its known.
So blots of death and war and all have made it pretty haunted, apparently, and the Ashton Villa is creepy because a bunch of people died in it who are now (apparently) refusing to leave. Mr. Brown, Mrs Brown, and their daughters Bettie and Mathilda all died in the Ashton Villa, as did a ton of Confederate soldiers, since the place was the headquarters and hospital for the Confederate Army.
The most notorious of those is Bettie, though. Brown's daughter was an eccentric, artistic woman who opted to remain unmarried at a time when such a thing was just wasn't done. She inherited the house from her father after he passed away. She lived in the house until her death, and apparently still hangs out there, opening drawers and appearing all creepeh-like.
But Bettie's not the only one still hanging around in the house in her post-death years. Those soldiers that died in the makeshift hospital during the Civil War still march, and there are a number of other regular things that happen to weird people out in that place. I don't know; it's Galveston. It's probably a good idea to stay far, far away.
This story continues on the next page.
2. The Hill Mansion Back in the '60s, Dr John Robert Hill was considered one of the most prominent plastic surgeons in the Southwest. He married a socialite named Joan Robinson Hill, who died mysteriously at the age of 38 after suffering from a three-day bout of the flu.
Dr Hill just so happened to have Joan embalmed before an autopsy could be done, leaving room for suspicion as to her cause of death. It didn't help much that John married his mistress within weeks of Joan's demise.
John went to trial for the murder of Joan by "omission" -- there was suspicion that he'd poisoned her, but no evidence -- which ultimately led to a mistrial. He would have gone back to court, but he was shot at the door of his house in River Oaks. Police suspected it was a hit arranged by Joan's father, but didn't have the evidence to prove it. Whoops.
So Golan, you might want to steer clear of Kirby -- and the Hill Mansion -- for your next rental. We're not saying it's haunted, but seriously. That's two murders in one house. Yikes.
1. Mossler Mansion So. The story of this murder mansion is confusing, but also quite sordid, so bear with us as we explain.
Jacques Mossler was married to a hot chick named Candy Mossler, who was the quintessential hostess and society gal. Jacques, unattractive and brash, was a number of years (think decades) older than Candy, who he paid a hefty allowance to stay home and throw parties and all. They had a luxurious apartment in Key Biscayne, Florida, where they would vacation. It was there that Jacques was found bludgeoned to death.
Investigators quickly targeted Candy's nephew, Melvin Lane Powers, her sister's son, for the murder after finding his fingerprints in the apartment and on the car that was seen fleeing the scene. Prosecutors accused Candy of masterminding the whole thing to get out of her marriage after having an affair with said nephew. Gross.
Powers was found not guilty, and left directly from the courthouse with his aunt, who proceeded to live with him in the Mossler Mansion in River Oaks for a number of years after. They split up, Candy moved on and married an electrical contractor, who was gravely injured in a mysterious fall at the mansion.
Candy also died at the River Oaks mansion five years later from a suspected medication overdose, because apparently Candy went hard. So a mansion full of weird "accidents," and a creepy incestuous affair? Yeah, this house is not the one for Golan.
None of them are, really. Perhaps it would be wiser for folks who are wary of murder mansions to just go the good ol' condo route. No one gets to haunt a condo, right?
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.