Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Kildare Mansion

I did this post on The Kildare Mansion a couple of years ago.  It has become one of my most popular posts and some of the comments on the post are very interesting and written by those who have lived in the house and experienced it.  I thought I would repost it with the comments so others could read the stories of those who know the house far better than I.  The Kildare Mansion was first famous for it's ghosts.  It was built in 1886 by a wealthy Irishman named O'Shaughnessy.   He built the castle as a reminder of his homeland, Ireland.   He put a fortune into making it the most extravagent house in the area and he did a good job of it.  This giant of a house overshadows everything around it. It has over 40 rooms and is over 17,000 square feet including the massive basement.   In 1900, MR. O'Shaughnessy went blind and his wife Anna sold Kildare to the trust fund established for Mary McCormick who inherited a multi million dollar fortune from her father

Unfortunately, Mary McCormick was mentally ill and suffered greatly during certain periods.  At the time,  treatment options were limited so they kept her locked in the house and had several nurses and staff to take care of her.  During her lucid periods,  Mary a wonderful woman who was known for her kindness and generocity.   For her entire life, she needed nurses to help her care for her mental illness.  Finally she had to retire to a sanitarium,  leaving her beautiful house behind.

From 1932- 1975, the Kildare Mansion fell into disrepair.   It decayed slowly as slums and lesser buildings slowly surrounded it hiding it's beauty in their sullen shadows.  In 1975, the house was purchased by the Reeves, who lovingly restored the house to its original splendor  It was during this time that the house was shown in the tour of historic homes and became a popular visit for haunt jaunters.   The house's basement was notoriously haunted by the ghost of  Mary McCormick.   Still tormented by her madness, she apparently made quite a ruckus at night.

In 2005 the house was bought by a family whose name I won't mention.  Since that time, the ghosts have become the least interesting part of this house.   The house has always been a favorite site for anyone visiting Huntsville because of its historic significance, its beauty, and its haunted history.  Many people drive by the house and photograph it.   Since 2005, however, the new owners have spent a considerable amount of time watching out for anyone lingering near the house.  If you drive by slowly or stop in front of the house,  a woman will emerge screaming at you.  Sometimes she'll curse and sometimes she'll use the garden hose to spray your car.  Other times she'll shine a spotlight on you and others she'll take pictures of you with her cell phone.  No matter what the new owner does, it is always hostile and she seems to always be watching.  She sits day and night waiting for those that linger to long, which might make one wonder if  Mary McCormick's mental illness might not be spreading?   Perhaps the house and its dark secrets have driven the new owner mad?  Perhaps madness is part of the curse of the house?

No matter what the case. Sadly,  the reason most drive by these days is to see the new owner run out and start screaming.  Her wild antics have become a fun attraction for locals who stop by just to see her jump around and scream  Few remember the ghost stories or the house's beautiful history.

41 comments:

Above the Norm said...

Perhaps the house is cursed. That lady sounds crazy...

Jessica Penot said...

I think maybe the house is cursed. Everything I've read indicates she was a nice lady when she moved into the house.

Courtney Mroch said...

Do what happened to you when you went by? Did she come out screaming at you? Now I want to go just to see what happens. It reminds me of the U-Turn man incident I had in Denver. And people who act weird like this just draw more lookers when word spreads. But it's a gorgeous house. And it's just more intriguing because of its history!

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Andra9307 said...

I lived at 2606 Kildare street right down from the house. I move from that street about 3 months ago. I would get off from work and have to turn on kildare street right next to the house on every time me and my husban would pass the house the lady would shine a bright spot light into our car and it was so bright and big that you could feel the heat from the light shine in through our car. One day we drove home and we were playing the music and the lady got in her car and drove to our house as we were getting out to go in to our house and she got out yelling and screaming at us saying stop driving by her house playing music that we were disterbing her 100 guest and the next time she would call the police on un we said that we were sorry and it wouldnt happen again and she went back to her house. The thing was that there wasnt any cars in her yard all the light were off in the house except for the tv of the room that she sleeps in and that big spot light. Creepy old woman is mad and I think as well as others that live on that street is the house thats doing it to her....

Jessica Penot said...

Thanks Andra... It does sound like it is the house driving her crazy. Madness seems to be part of its history.

sonny said...

I have met this lady and i think she is a very nice lady!

Jessica Penot said...

Sonny.. Thanks. We probably just don't see her good side. I'm sure she is nice in many other circumstances!

rmmckinley said...

I stopped to take pictures today. I knew nothing about this house except that it is a piece of art to look at. The woman stormed across the street. I waved and smiled thinking nothing of it. She came closer and yelled at me about how it was a private residence and her only ounce of privacy. She said it wasn't a museum and questioned why I was taking pictures. When I apologized, I think she realized I genuinely did no know anyone lived there and calmed down a little. I did research and and thrilled to learn this kind of evidence of Huntsville's history is still in great condition!! When the house goes on the market again, I hope that a petition for the city to buy it will start so the rest of us can enjoy the craftsmanship, history, and beauty that makes Huntsville what it is today.

Jessica Penot said...

rmmckinley... If you ever do get a petition together I would be happy to do whatever I can to help. This house is such a wonderful piece of Huntsville history I would love to help see that history protected.

Calvin said...

Lady is a ninja. We always joke around that she's a witch. Not sure if that's true or not. She certainly hisses like one. Me and some friends were really intrigued by the house so me and a buddy went by there one night. I looked through my binoculars and all of a sudden a spotlight came into them. Crazy old lady said she'd called the cops and to get out of there. "Don't be lookin in my window with your binoculars!" she said. Me and my buddy got in my car which we parked at the church near the Kildar Mansion and started driving off. As we were driving we realized the lady was following us. She followed us a little ways and stopped. Then some other friends went by there on Halloween and like idiots honked the horn a bunch and drove by repeatedly. They went by with their windows down and the lady sprayed them inside their car with a water hose. Oh the stories all seem the same.

Anonymous said...

We've driven by there lots of times & she & the other lady that live there jumped in their cars & started chasing us & tried to corner us on a different street!! One came from in front of us & the other came from behind! Crazy Train boarding on platform 5!! These broads are CA-RAZYYYYY!! I'm sure it does get annoying to have people continuously drive by your house looking at it BUT that's what happens when you buy a historical piece of property such as this & it kind of comes with the territory if u know what I mean :-\

Anonymous said...

Maybe she's just pissed because she made the mistake of buying a house that was already a tourist site in the city. Maybe she's just pissed that she bought the house that everyone stares at and sits in front of. I'm sure a bunch of young douchebags try to vandalize or pester her too to try and make her come out. I'm sure having to put up with that constantly would piss off anyone enough to chase you off the property. In my opinion.

Anonymous said...

She is probably just pissed off cause people are stopping by the house all the time taking pictures and trying to break in the house cause they think it is haunted. Maybe she is just tired of everyone showing too much attention to her house and it makes her feel uncomfortable... maybe...

Anonymous said...

Yup, it happened to me today. Drove by with a friend because he had never seen the house. We are both theatre teachers very interested in architecture. We drove slowly by loving the house and it's quirky, eclectic Victorian style. We saw someone in the first floor window and jokingly said it must be a ghost. We then pulled in to turn around and head back out and drove slowly past one more time. It was then that she ran out with a video camera pointed at my car. It creeped me out because I had no idea she made a habit of this! Sad, really. Such a landmark and it's not in good repair. I would certainly support it's purchase by the city or by some entity that would care for it and restore it to it's original splendor.

Anonymous said...

I just went by there for the first time today.I have never heard of the house and I was driving down Oakwood ave when all of a sudden I saw that beautiful house..so we turned around and were slowly driving by and I was gonna take a picture with my cellphone when all of a sudden that crazy woman(which I did not know about) came out with this mirror like thing and was shining it at my car I was blinded by the thing she then proceeded to run out in her front yard and flash it in our eyes when we were driving back down Oakwood...I was in dibelief so I statred googling the house and low and behold everyone has some very similiar stories...This woman has to be crazy...sounds like the crazy lady who lived there in the early 1900"s has taken over this woman....anyone else got any good info about the house and its owner?

Anonymous said...

I let my girls talk me into taking them by there, needless to say I will never do that again... I almost peed my pants when she put the spot light in my face and the light followed us down oakwood,as the girls were screaming. We went at midnight, who in the world would be up to shine a spot light that late?

Anonymous said...

My family purchased this home in early 1966 from Jackie Smith Blackwell (a friend of "Eunice" on Andrew Jackson and a whole different story). We lived in this home during 1966-1967 years. I was in the 6th grade at Chapman Jr. High. It truly was a wonderful place to live. We have many memories that we frequently share. I love that it had a furnace in the basement for heating with forced air using the old style radiators in the rooms. It actually has a small room with a window in the attic, on the front of the house, where you can see the grounds. It was spooky climbing into the attic and not knowing what might be discovered; you had to go through a crawl space to get into the room which was about 6' x 8' in size. From the first floor main kitchen you get to the basement by going down a spiral shaped wooden staircase. One night I had to go turn off the basement light and I was barefoot; never grab and pull a metal chain when barefoot on a concerts floor! On my way down those stairs a bat flew at me. There is a large closet with beautiful stained glass on the double doors in the main living room; this must have been used for storing fine china and linens that were likely used for entertaining on a grand scale. The main floor had 10 or 12 foot ceilings, fireplaces everywhere and 3 kitchen areas. It had beautiful bear claw bathtubs throughout! There was a full bath in the basement as well. If my memory serves correctly, a total of 52 rooms including those in the basement. We loved sliding down the wood banister of the stairs from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor; these stairs are located just inside the main front door. Directly under the stairs on the first floor (at the highest end) was a door that opened to one set of stairs that went from first floor to basement. We actually had a water battle on the second floor one Saturday morning after breakfast but before we began our weekly cleaning. Now you know how my Saturday's were spent during that time. To turn the light on or off you pushed a button. And the elevator, yes it had one, however, it's known as a "dumb waiter" (not sure of spelling) and to go up or down you pulled a rope that was at least 1 inch in diameter and it was the original rope! There was a push button light switch in the dumb waiter. Today it still has the original fire escapes. In the basement is a wine cellar with the original wine racks, at least during the time we resided in the house. My favorite room in the entire place at the time, of course, was the round tower bedroom located on the 3rd floor. This will be on the left side if you are looking at the front of the house from the street. It has a huge veranda out back on the main floor. The small windows above the doors could be opened but it was difficult. At one time there was a small house to the right off the main house; we always believed a groundskeeper had lived in it at some point in time. The last I saw, this small house was rubble. It was rumored that the McCormick's had planned to cover the roof with silver dollars. At the top of the tall windows to the left side of the main entrance (in the upside down V) is the date and initials, McC, 1886. I always hoped to buy this place again someday and restore it to as much of its original glory as possible and make it into a bed a breakfast. I may attempt to post again and include some pics. Hope you enjoyed reading of my living experience.

Anonymous said...

A group of friends and I had heard about the house and decided to drive by and see it. Two men in suits stood outside and my friends went to talk to them, thinking they were just looking as well. The men started threatening my friends and a woman leaped over the fence with a baseball bat, chasing them back to our car. We had no bad intentions whatsoever but definitely won't be going back.

Anonymous said...

I had the same thing happen to me! I took a picture of her house and BAM she came out running behind my car and she wanted to know my address. She called the cops on me! My friend is a delivery driver for Dominos and she parked her car in front of the witches house and delivered the pizza to the house across the street from her(witch). While my friend was gone the witch freakig took a rock and busted out her windshield with it! This woman is a nut case!

L. Shepherd said...

I had no idea that was going on! I can't believe I haven't heard stories about it. I took a tour of it in the mid-80s when a small family lived there. The husband used to take tour through the house- I think it was $2 for kids and $4 for adults. He would tell you about the history of the house and he took you through the rooms that were restored.

They were slowly restoring the whole house, and the rooms that they had completed were gorgeous. I remember he said it had something like 17 fireplaces, and I was astounded that any house could have that many. He had a couple of young kids playing on the floor during the tour and we saw his wife in the kitchen cooking their dinner. It's too bad that that family doesn't still own the house. They were sweet people who seemed to really love it- and they didn't mind people wanting to come and see it.

Anonymous said...

I went tonight to see what it was all about and we drove by 5 times and once we saw a man who threw a rock at our car denting above the window. I don't see how thatis legal because the road is public property

Anonymous said...

okay, so we went to the masion tonight and drove by four times. the first time we didnt honk. the second and third time we did and nothing happened so we thought we would do it one more time and just when we thought we got away BAM!! something hit our car. we didnt know what it was but we were scared to death and we went to back home and found out there was a dent the size of a fat mans head. we thought we were being shot at. scariest moment of my life. my friend in the back seat was having an asthma attack and saw the rock boulder thing hit the car. i would advise everyone to NOT do that, if you want your car to be dentless.

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to HONK your horn? That's just rude and ignoramt. Consioder yourself lucky that you didn't get a bullet to your head----obnoxious behaior, like you and your friends exhibited, all deserve one.

Anonymous said...

that was rude ^ why would you waste your time throwing things at someones car. if she didnt want people to drive by then she shouldnt keep doing things to people. its leads them on to do it more. duh

Anonymous said...

Wow! We drove by several different "haunted" places in Huntsville today and this beautiful house was one of them. As most have done, we drove by slowly the first time looking. We then turned around to get a second look. As we slowly drove by the second time, a old lady appeared in the bushes. We thought she was watering her flowers at the time!! We all commented about how she "just appeared" because there was no sign of her the first time! Although the kids got spooked when they saw her, she didn't do anything. We searched the Internet on the way home and found out all these similar stories. Very interesting!!! And it sounds like we got lucky!! :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up admiring this house. When I took my daughter and friends by the house the same thing happened. The woman instantly appeared with a Q beam light and video camera. I rolled down my window (which freaked out everyone else in the car) and apologized for bothering her. I explained that I wanted to show the girls a beautiful part of Huntsville. She was NOT listening.

If you don't want to be disturbed and you like a private life, you probably shouldn't buy the historical, multi-colored, 17,000 sq ft mansion. Just sayin.

LTH said...

My husband and I rode by this house on a recent trip to Huntsville, and thankfully we did not see anyone. I was able to snap a few pictures of the house from my car, and I have posted them online. I have also found a set of pictures on flickr that has pictures of the inside of this house! I was absolutely amazed by the architecture of this wonderful building! Kildare Mansion

Anonymous said...

My friend's mom works for the Huntsville police and we drove by the house tonight and she was telling us that the police can't do anything about the lady throwing rocks at cars or anything because most people know about her and just drive by for fun so they're taking the risk.

Anonymous said...

I was in that area of town today for the first time and stumbled on the house and was awed by it architecture and beauty. I kept seeing here look at me when I drove by but could never get her attention - I kept calling as I approached & she chased me away swinging a pole in one hand, holding a camcorder in the other & threats in between. Knowing what I read, above, now - I can understand. The house is a marvel from a lost age. It's a terrible shame...that the house be locked away from the world & this poor lady be so

Anonymous said...

Has she ever pressed charges against anyone after she called the cops on them.

Anonymous said...

Be warned... this lady is dangerous! She assaulted a lady yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon with a fishing rod. The lady was injured, pretty badly. Her offense.... taking pictures of the house with her cell phone! Oh yeah, she then took the victim's cell phone. If she has not been arrested yet.... she will be within 24 hours! What a nut job!!!

Samantha Knox said...

Haha, well this lady is a lunatic! but its kinda funny the crazy stories you hear lol

Samantha Knox said...

Haha, well I think she is crazy but its funny and you only live once, so i suggest everyone ride by there at least once or twice in your life! Its a thrill to see a crazy woman recording you on a public road! and if you really think about it, she is invading our privacy cause we are on public roads..

Anonymous said...

I think it is disgusting how so many people are finding it "humorous" or "entertaining" or "thrilling" even, to go drive be a STRANGERS house and cause a commotion to have the owner come out and yell at you. What else do you expect to happen? If someone drove by my house and honked their horn I would come out screaming too. But I guess since I don't live in a mansion it's not worth doing.
Their house is NOT a museum. They are not there for your entertainment. That is where they live, and people are harassing them. I'm glad they are building their fence, I hope the City of Huntsville lets them finish it. I know if it were me, and that were my house and people behaved the way they did around it, I would build a damn fortress around it. Leave people alone, geez.

Anonymous said...

the city of Huntsville has stopped construction of this 18 +/- foot fence, as it doesn't fit into the neighhorhood norms.......

Anonymous said...

I look at this house every time I drive by and have noticed a few things. Starting out, they placed long sticks along the edge of the property. I thought it was for some sort of decoration then realized they left no way to drive their onto the property, until I saw the crazy lady moving the sticks so she could drive her car through. That's when I realized the damned snob didn't want anyone on her property. Dona said "I don't think so, she's a real nice lady".
I stopped by the Shell for smokes and "Vieen-yas and crackers" for a fast lunch before heading back to work. I whipped around to Kildare and parked next to the stained glass lace to eat. Munching away I saw the crazy lady and kept on eating. Now here is the short conversation that pist me off.
Her- can I help you?
Me- no thank you, I'm fine.
Her- you're on my property
Me- uh, ok (thinking I didn't know she owned this place too, besides, I'm parked on the side of the road outside of this little plastic chain they have here now. WTF?!?)
Her- I said, you are on my property!
Me- Oh! I'm so sorry, I didn't see the sign saying "owned by crazy snob bitch!".
I through my trash out the window and left. Now every time, I mean every time I go by there I through something out there.
Anyway, they started with sticks, then piled up rocks to keep people out, now they got a damned 12' privacy fence going up all the way around the place. Progressively crazy, yes I think so.

Anonymous said...

Me and a few friends went by there yesterday and its true she does come out filming u and put a spot light in my face. Some man followed us for 30 minutes. I laughed and he nor she didn't intimidate me what-so-ever.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the person lived there in the 60's who wrote the paragraph about it. I drove my husband by there a few weeks ago because he'd never seen it before. We didn't take photos, video, we didn't park, we didn't honk and we didn't throw garbage in the yard. I've read a great deal about the crazy lady that lives there and seen the videos. She apparently is not stable. That being said, don't drive by 5 times blowing the horn. Don't throw trash in the yard. Don't just park & stare. I don't care who they are or where they live, that's rude. Maybe if more people would have some respect, they wouldn't object to us simply driving by and admiring the beautiful house. It sounds like most people try to antagonize her, how does she know who is well meaning and who isn't? If she's crazy, well...don't poke the bear. It's not rocket science. Damn. And no. I am not her. Or him.

Jessica Penot said...

I appreciate all the recent comments about remembering to be respectful when viewing the house. It is important to be respectful and quiet when viewing any home! However, in the case of this house, I believe most people who go there just want to view the beauty of a house that has been part of our local history. Any time you live in or purchase a home of historical significance, people will stop by to look at the home. This isn't just with haunted homes. My family owned a historic home for many generations and we knew that people would stop by and look at the house and photograph it. It wasn't haunted, but it was part of the local history and people were interested in the house and its history. If you aren't comfortable with people stopping by your home who are interested in history, you shouldn't purchase a home of historical signficance. There are many beautiful homes that no one wants to see. I live in one now. Kildare Mansion is part of local history and people will always be interested in it. People will always drive by and photograph it. It is sad that this upsets the current owner so much, but most of the people who go to view the home are history or ghost story buffs who only want to view it quietly. They are not being rude or hostile. When I went to view it, I was in a minivan quietly sitting across the street. I didn't invade her property, leave the car, or make any noise. It is an amazing house and I just wanted to see it. The current owner attacked me and yelled profanity at me. I hope that some day the current owner will be more comfortable with people who love history viewing her home, because her home is extraordinary. I have viewed many, many historic homes across the nation and in other nations for this blog and never has anyone reacted like this.

Alan said...

Anyone who thinks she is a nice lady has mental health issues of their own. She is nuts.