Mike Tyson Mansion, Southington, OH
As anyone who followed the original site knows, one of the bigger features over the years was the Mike Tyson Mansion. I always made it my goal to either bring new content, or at the very least bring a new look at content people were already familiar with. Many of these locations have been covered endlessly, so its tough to keep from just having the same pictures as everyone else. You usually have to dig deeper, treck further, take more photos, or do something to make your piece stand out. The Tyson home was one of those rare finds that everyone in this hobby hopes to stumble upon. I hadn’t seen it covered anywhere at that time, and every bit of it stood out. It was a just unbelievable that such a place could be sitting and not be post all over the net, but as someone who knows the sites, I can assure you it was not.
The way I found out about the Tyson home was unusual. My mom, who knew well of my hobby at the time, just brought it up one day. She simply asked why I’d never gone there. She had heard about it on some little news blurb or something like that, but had never thought to mention it to me until then. I hopped in the car and rode to Southington. It wasn’t a matter of searching around or asking directions… it was directly on the main road with a large sign above the entrance gate. It was obvious that the home was abandoned and sitting wide open.
On that trip I simply wasn’t prepared to take pictures, so I headed home and finished my visit with my parents. It wouldn’t be for several months later that I’d actually get the time to go in to the house.
I believe it was on my Birthday in December that I finally went in to the Tyson house. Entering these places always brings me the same weird feeling. I know I could get caught, and I always think of how awkward it would be explaining yourself to the police. In the case of an urban location, you consider running in to a crazy homeless person, but out here in the sticks, your only worry is the police. I felt surprisingly confident that they wouldn’t bother me, simply because it would be hard for them to get to the house without me seeing them coming across the huge front lawn. In addition, I make it a point to be extremely respectful, quiet, and non-threatening. I just slip in, freeze time on film, and move on with my life. I believe this is what allowed me to go several years at this with no police problems. So at this point, I was riding around the area, which isn’t much more than a stretch of road, trying to find somewhere to park my car. I finally opted to just pull off of a side road in to a field and hope for the best. I still had no idea how I would get to the poperty.
I walked quite a ways through a field, stepping in water and god knows what else, snow blowing in my face, and trying my best to stay pointed toward the home. I saw a neighbor who was outside for some reason, but he didn’t seem to see me. I could see the back side of the pool building in the distance. I walked some more and eventually came to a driveway of sorts. It had curbs. It was unusual because it clearly was on the Tyson property and appeared to be a continuation of his drive. I later figured out that the piece of property most likely originally intended to be a subdivision with a cul-de-sac at the end with the first home being the what later became the Tyson home. If you walked back the drive, there were other properties with electrical boxes, etc, but no homes.
I figured the drive would leave me where I wanted to go, so I followed it toward the home until I became visable to those passing on the main highway. I again trecked through the field directly to a door on the rear of the pool building. It was propped open. I could see large pool pumps inside the doors. It was a small utility room. I figured I’d step in there to regroup. Upon entering, I could feel the rush of humid chlorine scented air, similar to when you enter the indoor pool area of a hotel. I knew then that the pool was directly connected to this room. I saw a doorway and opened it slowly. At this point I didn’t know who or what may be there. I had that rush of adrenaline as I opened the door to find the now infamous bright green indoor pool. One tip for people exploring, you can usuaully determine if anyone else is in a place by waiting silently for a long period of time. Go as long as you can stand it, then go a few minutes more. By then the other person should be well beyond the amount of time they can stand still and you’ll hear them move. I did this, and heard nothing. There was just a painful silence in the air.
After gathering my cool, or what little cool I have, I proceeded to walk around the pool area. I have a huge fear of standing water, dirty pools, etc, so i had trouble getting as close as i’d like, but I did eventually get up the nerve. Its always so nerve racking being in these places because you never really know who you may come across, and typically no one that cares for you knows exactly where you are, so you picture yourself a missing person’s case constantly. This was particularly true in the Tyson home due to the enormous size, remote location, and just weirdness of it all. On one hand, you assume no one would be out in the middle of nowhere, but on the other, if they were, they’re certainly crazy. Regarldess, I managed to press on.
The pool area was weird. The furniture, carpet, lighting, even plants reminded me of hotel pool area furniture. There was a nice sundae bar. A great hot tub that had a waterfall behind it that went in to the pool. The pool had underwater lights like you would see in mall fountains as a child… you know, the ones you always tried to land your penny on? It was very easy to imagine the smells, sounds, and general feeling of this room in its hayday. I’ll bet it was quite a place.
Waterfall and foundtain from the hottub going in to the pool.
Pool lighting, similar to mall fountain lights.
The famous sundae bar.
Once i looked around the pool area completely, and reaized I couldn’t get a decent picture to save my life, I moved on to the media room area with the now famous zebra striped carpet. Its worth noting now some logistics behind these pictures. I made my first visit to the tyson home around my birthday i believe, so early december. I had countless blurry pictures when i got home and i finally became aggrivated enough to drive my poor butt to Best Buy and pick up a tripod in hopes that it would help. I happened to find one on clearance, and i have never looked back. It changed the site forever. If I would have had this all along, this site would have so many more pictures. Even a crappy digital camera like mine will sit there with the shutter open for an eternity in order to gather enough light for a decent picture. The difference is amazing. Most of the pictures came from trip number two, where I used the tripod.
The size of these rooms is just unreal for a person who grew up in a small house like mine. The can best be aligned with a school gymnasium maybe in terms of size. As usual, the pictures don’t do them justice. I found much of the decor to be similar to that of a shopping mall from the 80’s. I don’t even say that as an insult, but the lighting, the furniture, and just overall feel was that of the malls I was drug to as a child. I spent plenty of time at those malls waiting on my mom to shop while I analyzed the fixtures, archetecture, etc. It was awful. I truely wonder if much of Tyson home wasn’t aquired from a similar outfitter.
Check the lights as an example of mall decor. I also believe that those windows you are seeing were once exterior windows to the home before the media room and pool were added. I’m guessing this wall was the outside wall before Tyson purchased the property. I believe the balcony with stairs in to the media room was added to allow access from the master bedroom to the media room. Notice even the doors are very commercial looking.
Backside of the bar.
A better view of the doors, which were no different than the types of doors you’d have walking in to a retail store.
This spiral staircase led to the basement.
The entryway between the pool area and the media room area that also leads to the outside. These door to the outside was wide open at the time. Directly behind me is the views you see above of the entrance to the original home area.
The famous huge TV. Below the TV were additional doors leading to the pool. To the right is the entry way pictured above. Behind me is the rest of the house.
At this point I had covered two of the more obvious and now famous rooms in the home. I moved on toward what I believe was the original house. As we move that way, how about a little history? This is based in what I’ve been told, and what I have read online.
From what I’ve heard, the house originally belonged to county comissioner Ted Vannelli. The home was just the smaller home portion without the pool and media room. I’ve also heard at some point a hairdresser cut hair in a small building out by the road which later became the guard’s shack, but I can’t seem to find evidence of that. The road that leads back to the house originally was slated to be a small subdivision type of thing with other homes. That never happened. Eventually the comissioner or hairdresser, or maybe the hairdress was his wife…. anyway, someone lost the home, and it went to Sheriff’s sale in the late 80s. Tyson’s folks purchased the home at the sale for 300k and it eventually became what you see here. Again, this is entirely hersay and almost certainly wrong. Around this era, Tyson was going through the entire prison thing and didn’t actually spend much time at the home. I have heard varying reports that he was a great neighbor, he had huge parties, and that other people had huge parties here but that was while Tyson wasn’t around. I have no idea where the truth lies. Fast forward to Tyson selling the home to Paul Monea in 1999. Paul bought the home and from what I have been told, never used it as primary residence. I have heard that his children may have had some parties, or movie nights, or something there, but again, cannot confirm any of this. If so, that had to be a great place to take girls. Paul was very wealthy and made tons of money doing direct marketing… aka:infomercials. A big product that they pushed was Tae-Bo… the videos with Bill Blanks kickboxing. Eventually, due to reason I don’t know and don’t want to guess at, Paul went to prison. What little I know is that he was set to trade the house and a huge diamond for some money. It ended up that the purchaser was an FBI agent. The FBI agent commented that the money he’d be using to purchase said items was drug money. Some comments were made about “rug money”, laughs were had, and things moved forward until the FBI arrested Paul for money laundering by means of the house and diamond, and the home went in to a trust for Paul’s family. The home then sat empty for an extended period of time and fell victim to vandalism.
The home sat wide open for an uncertain period of time, exposed to the elements, and I then entered the home and took these pictures. The pictures then took off on the web a little, ebaums world shamelessly stole them (covered up my watermarks instead of just letting me have my credit), and it became very well known. I know my typical viewers just enjoy the pics, so i wasn’t too worried, but apparently as popularity grew, so did vandalism. I truely believe that my pictures didn’t cause vandalism in any way, but the attorney for the family trust didn’t agree, so I willingly took the pictures off of the site for several years. At the point at which it was obvious the pictures weren’t going to cause any damage, and when the house finally sold, I eventually put the pictures back up, and here they are. Again, nothing above is fact at all. The house is currently for sale for 1,300,000 (as of November, 2011) and there are tons of pictures posted with the MLS listing, furthing my belief that these pictures won’t hurt a thing.
Let me add a little weirdness to it all… Paul Monea that lost the house made a lot of money on Tae-Bo… remember those tapes? Well Tae-Bo was a sponsor of a racing team called Hemelgarn racing. Ron Hemelgarn is the one now selling Tyson’s old home without any major renovations or changes. It has been speculated that possibly, and again, this is all people guessing, no facts, that Paul owed money to the racing team for the sponsorship. Ron put a lien on the house, and ended up getting the house cheaper than market through some means, and is now selling the house to recoop losses.
So that’s your history.
#urbex #tyson #southington