As you make your way through Wyoming’s Wapiti Valley, perched upon a hill just outside of Cody is a strange looking building known to locals as ‘Smith Mansion.’
The home was built over eighteen years by local man Francis Lee Smith. Smith, who worked as a full-time engineer in Cody, made the property in his spare time.
Unfortunately, the house didn’t have a fairy-tale ending one would hope for. In 1992, disaster struck, and construction on the property came to an end, forever.
THE HISTORY OF THE SMITH MANSION
In the 1970s, Smith was inspired by an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. After a huge fire on the nearby Rattlesnake Mountain, much of the timber was left up for grabs for anyone willing to lug it away.
Smith had a truck and two willing associates who helped him start loading up. Yet it appears Smith could never stop!
At first, Smith wanted to build a comfortable home for him and his family. But once the house was completed, the project just kept growing. Over the years, what was supposed to be a small family home, became a large tower featuring balconies and viewing platforms (the top of which looks like the Eye of Sauron).
In the lower floor living spaces, you had named rooms, such as the “hot room” and “cold room.” Through the colder months, they would spend their time in the “hot room” which featured a wood-burning stove. In warmer months, they would use the cooler temperatures of the “cold room.” The house had no running water, and no plumbing or electricity, except for that provided by a small generator.
Unfortunately for Smith, the family home wasn’t to be. Despite living there with his family for some time, his obsession with it became a strain on his marriage, which lead to divorce. His wife, son, and daughter moved back into the nearby town of Cody.
This however, only drove Smith to focus more on completing the building. However, it wasn’t to be, one day in 1992, the 48-year old was working on one of his slanted roofs when he fell (not for the first time) and died. Smith’s body wasn’t found until two days later.
THE HOUSE TODAY
After the death of Francis Lee Smith, the Smith Mansion passed on to his family. The home is now looked after by Smith’s daughter Sunny Larsen, who was just 12 when her father died but still remembers living in the property as a child.
She said: “His original intent was to build a home for his family, and it just took on a life of its own.” It was only in later years that she realized her father had no blueprints, every addition was off-the-cuff. “He never knew what his next step was going to be.”
His daughter also rejects the idea that mental illness played a part in her father’s obsession. “He built,” she said. “He was an artist in every sense of the word.”
The property has been empty now for almost 30 years, exposed to the elements the wooden structure has begun to decay slowly. Teenagers from the nearby town of Cody routinely visit the property on the weekends and vandalize it.
This decay hasn’t stopped Ms. Larsen from trying to sell the property though. In August 2018, Smith Mansion was listed on the market for $750,000, as of yet it still has no buyer.
How a half-finished wooden structure with no plumbing or electricity on a hill in Wyoming could fetch $750,000 we don’t know. However, it would be a cool property to finish if you had the cash burning a hole in your pocket.
If you like Smith Mansion, then check out Goose Creek Tower. Goose Creek Tower was built in much the same way, however, the owner still hasn’t finished it.