Urban Exploration Magazine

11 Jun

The Funhouse - Kirby's Mansion Featured

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The Funhouse - Kirby's Abandoned Mansion

In the middle of the pastoral North Texas countryside sits an icon of the north end of the Metroplex. The mansion has worked it's way into local folklore; everyone who has ever lived in Denton County has seen the massive, serene half-finished mansion squatting on the side of a grassy knoll near I-35N. Simply inquiring of a random passerby in town of the mansion will always prompt a lengthy, amusing conversation. It seems that everyone has their own version of the house's history, as well as what happened to it's construction and why it's been sitting for so many decades. Tales vary from bland financial issues to murder-mystery stories of a husband murdering his wife and never finishing building their dream home. Local legend tells of the mansion being haunted and used for Satanic rituals, or even that it houses a camp of violent, vagabond youth. Whatever the story, I'd like to share with you my adventures to Kirby's Abandoned Mansion. This was one of the very first places I ever explored, so this article is a compilation of various photos from various trips, thus why some are of better quality than others. Read on!


 Getting to Kirby's Mansion is a bit of a daunting ordeal, in full view of the busy highway behind you, as well as a restaurant and a school to the north, one must leave his vehicle on the side of the highway, load up his gear, scale several fences, and then quickly hike almost an either of a mile, still totally exposed, and quickly scamper into the mansion without being seen. Approaching the mansion on foot is properly intimidating, as well. Driving past on the highway, the sheer size of the place doesn't leave a full impact, and neither do the creepy details of decay etched into the facade of the building. The main doorway stands open, leading into an inky black interior, like a gaping maw, daring one to enter. A massive pile of rubble, the remains of great stone columns lays forgotten by the entrance, slowly being buried by weeds and shrubbery. Some windows are finished and have glass in them, some are not and stand open to the air. More so than any other place I've visited in my travels, standing on the grandiose stone porch of the mansion, peering into the unfathomable dark of the interior, a sinking feeling of "I really shouldn't be here." sets in and persists the entire time you are in the place.  

 After you set foot inside the mansion and your eyes adjust to the dim light, you are greeted with a macabre vision of a building. Half of the place is very nicely finished, tall, impressive fireplaces stand with grand stone hearths, the rooms are large with vaulted ceilings, with tall, thick windows letting in as much sun as they can. Nearly every square foot of the floorspace is cramped with seemingly everything needed to finish the place. Electrical conduit lays in a jumbled heap, drywall sits stacked neatly on pallets, and an entire elevator car and assembly sits neatly disassembled in the middle of the main room. Walk back outside through the back door, and after your eyes burn in the bright Texas sun, you find yourself standing on a large veranda, still stacked to the brim with everything you could possibly want to finish the place, vast quantities of electrical wiring, junctions, conduit, and fuse boxes, a vintage, likely never used Dr. Pepper machine, stacks upon stacks of blueprints and schematics, and the decades old remnants of construction worker's lunches. It feels almost like being an archaeologist on the first floor, finding all the trappings and materials from a time long past, piecing together the workday and life of construction workers who hadn't been here in many, many years.

Even the furniture have been delivered, desks, chairs, filing cabinets and benches adorn the first floor, but instead of housing pens, pencils, and the accouterments of a successful man, they house spiders and old Keystone cans. A barrel full of new fluorescent lights caught my attention and tugged at my heart for this place. Not a single light had been hung yet, they all sat out back on the veranda, yet someone had still purchased all the bulbs for them. That got me thinking about how sad the whole place really is. Imagine how the owner must feel, should he walk through this place now. Someone poured vast amounts of money into this mansion, and the place showed just enough personal details, such as the large stone hearth and the grand entryway to belay how much someone really loved this place, probably eagerly anticipated being able to live in it. They must have worked for decades to earn the money to create it, making this place their life's achievement, and now it stands slowly decaying, without ever even being occupied. How sad.

In the center of the foyer rises a breathtaking 3 story tall spiral staircase. The staircase is simply mindblowing, a sheer defeat of physics by mankind. The entire thing has no support whatsoever, no central pillar, no supporting arms, no cables holding it from the ceiling, but the behemoth still stands and feels very firm to climb. The spiral staircase was obviously meant to be a grand centerpiece to the entire house, as every room on every floor opened up into it in some way. From the looks of it, the spiral staircase would stand in the middle of a large 3 story tall room, with balconies on every floor overlooking the stairs and foyer below. In the ceiling, above the staircase is a large reinforced circle of wood, the same size and in line with the hole through the middle of the stairs, leading us to believe that the architect had an idea for some sort of large centerpiece to the centerpiece, perhaps a fountain or chandelier running in the middle of the stairs. Either way, it would have been an amazing sight to behold when finished.


The second floor looked as if it was meant to be a large ballroom of some kind, maybe with a kitchen and facilities off to the side and the rest a large open space. There wasn't much to see up here, except a on a sheet of dusty glass, someone has scrawled a smiley face and "LEAVE NOW! This is a private residence, man!", quoting The Big Lebowski. I suddenly could not help the curiosity, who wrote that? Someone had beat us here, but they had left no other discernible mark on the place. No grafitti, no trash, nothing. What prompted them to chose that piece of glass, of all of them, and write that? Why quote the Big Lebowski? Why did they want us out?

The third floor looked like it was meant to be the bedrooms and living quarters. It was much the same as the first floor, tons of building supplies littered around, and a great view of the highway and countryside.

In an incredible twist of urban myth ending up being true, we actually did find some some unnerving things on the third floor. Legend has it that the man financing the construction of the mansion died in the middle of the third floor, and as such, because of some technicality of religion, this made it a prime spot for seances with the devil. I'm not a great believer in such things, but I did notice that the area did have a very negative vibe to it. One felt very uneasy standing in the third floor, as if something very bad had happened or something was perhaps a little more evil than usual here. In the center of the third floor stands an unusual pillar, as shown in the pictures. Some sort of codex is scrawled onto it in what appears to be French, and various names are scrawled on it from around 1997 and 1998. The first time I went, tealight candles were strategically positioned all over the third floor, on the ground, on windowsills, and in and among the framework of the half-finished walls. The second time I went, a mere month later, the candles were re-positioned, and several larger candles had been added and a large pentagram scrawled on the floor with a candle at each point. I went back again, about 2 months later, and the pentagram and every single candle was gone, yet there was a garbage bag where the pentagram was containing a dead, mauled cat and a lot of cigarette butts. You may draw your own conclusions from this, but someone visits the place regularly and tries to do less than noble things.

So what is the history of the mansion? According to JohnB0127 at HubPages:

"The mansion, along with a horse barn, was built in the early 1980's by Joe and Jill Powell. Mr. Powell sold horses for a living and decided to construct his estate with appeal to his horse buyers. When his clients arrived to purchase horses, they would be able to stay and rest, much like a hotel or inn. The home was designed for two parts: a single residence for the Powells and a guest serving hotel. Powell intended for the home to include several bedrooms and hotel like features including an elevator and a third level ballroom for entertaining purposes. The surrounding grounds, approximately 72 acres, were also purchased by the Powells for horse barns and other equestrian purposes.  After construction, the Powells had planned for the mansion to include nearly 30,000 sq. feet of living space. From the mid 1980's, the story becomes a little unclear. It is rumored that the Powells suffered from a nasty divorce. After the divorce, it was unclear which individual would receive the mansion, so they just...left it. Many rumors have circled north Texas, including ones saying the mansion is haunted, but no one has confirmed the validity of the matter.

Recently, the grounds including the mansion were bought by a Denton catering company, Fremaux's Metropolitan Catering. The company caters events all over north Texas from birthdays to weddings. On Fremaux's Metropolitan Catering's website, the company details plans of the huge mansion to be turned into a wedding chateau. The surrounding grounds would be included in the wedding chateau for outdoor activities and ceremonies. Fremaux's Metropolitan Catering is still in the process of buying and turning the once vacant mansion into a place of celebration."


Lastly, I'll leave you with the only image I could find of the mansion as it was intended to be, finished, and in all it's glory.


Last modified on Monday, 11 June 2012 05:44