Recently Michelle Rose Bowers contacted me at the Wake Forest News and asked if she could contribute an article. “Why yes,” I happily said. Here is Michelle’s wonderful piece.
Mystery of Webb Mansion
By Michelle Rose Bowers
Abandoned Homes of North Carolina
I am an avid social media user, and by avid I mean I have a slight addiction. As a stay at home mom and part time photographer and online poker aficionado and let me not forget that I am also a doctor. That’s right, all of my training was done at the medical school of Google. If anyone is a hypochondriac they text me and I will either exacerbate their fears or squash them. I view my social media addiction as my water cooler or lunchroom banter. That’s my excuse so leave me alone.
I also have a passion for old houses, namely abandoned houses. I love to explore them, to trespass into them, to photograph them. I love to imagine them back in their day of pride. To me they all still have beauty, from their rusted nails, withered boards, long forgotten porch swings; they all still hold memories. I heard rumors online that a large mansion stood abandoned in the Raleigh area.
I did some online searches, didn’t turn up enough to narrow it down. I went to my Instagram friends that participate in the same thing I do: #igersraleigh #igersnc #abandonedhousesofnc.
I hit the jackpot. First guy I asked not only knew of this mansion, but it was his first ever abandoned home he explored. Holy crap, give me the 411!!!! I’ve researched the location and I am only finding gps coordinates and general ideas of where it is. He gave me the EXACT address.
A friend and I set out on a Sunday afternoon to find it. This was her first abandoned home exploration with me. I don’t use a map. I just start driving back roads and when I see one I screech to a stop and survey the surroundings. If I see “No Trespassing” signs I stay back and take pictures from the road. If the signs look too weathered for me to read I get on the porch and look in windows. If there are no signs and the door is wide open….in we go!!
I explained to my friend on our 20 minute drive to this supposed mansion that the most recent recounts I read online have the mansion driveway being chained and private property signs up. I also read it was going to auction with a bidding start price of $200,000. Market value of it is around $2.0 million, but vandals have taken it over and the home was left with a nasty stigma from its previous occupants.
Who are the previous occupants? Quite a couple they are! Thomas J. Webb and his wife called themselves builders and contractors. Back before the market crashed they were rolling in money, but it apparently wasn’t enough. They found investors willing to trust them. They took thousands under the guise that they would use their hard earned money to buy dilapidated houses in underprivileged neighborhoods and refurbish them to then turn around and sell them to first time home buyers.
Instead Thomas J. Webb was buying luxury cars to place in his fancy marble floored three car garage or to line them on his quarter mile, monogrammed circular driveway. He pocketed their money and never did anything to the homes he intended to buy. I kept his thieving ways in my mind as we turned down the street name I was given. We started counting houses as we were told it was the third or the fourth on the left. We rounded a slight curve and we both looked left at the same time.
That’s definitely it!! Sure enough there was a chain stretching across the driveway and a private property sign nailed on a post. We drove past slowly and made note of the mansion beside it that still has occupants living in it. Bet they despise the Webb’s. We turned back at our first chance and drove slowly as we contemplated our choices. My friend was all for going past the chain. I was more cautious and not sure. Then I noticed that chain would easily lift up off the latch. “Let’s go for it, but hurry up!!!”
I looked at it like this, I saw online it was going to auction and I was driving a Mercedes so I had every intention of possibly placing a bid on it. (Yeah, right.) That was my story if Wake County Sheriff Department showed up. We were there all of five minutes. It is awe inspiring not just because of its size and magnificence back before it was vandalized, but also because of the vandalizing it has endured. It is crazy. I immediately felt so badly for the mansions around this one.
Our pictures of the Webb Mansion from that day. Do not ask me the address because I will not tell even my own children. Please enter all abandoned homes at your own risk. This was my best abandoned house so far, but visit my Facebook page for others.
I am in no way affiliated with Wake Forest News. Just a reader with a story to share.
Michelle Rose Bowers