A dilapidated mansion stands empty for years. Children dare each other to enter, only to discover that the house appears as if the family abandoned it in the middle of dinner. Dishes are still on the table, a fully decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner, and beautiful dust-covered furnishings fill each room.
Sounds like a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery, doesn't it? The story is true, however -- or at least parts of it are. I'm still trying to separate fact from fiction about the Parbury house, which is stuff of suburban legend.
Many museum visitors have asked about the home, labeled a mansion by many because of its dramatic decor, tennis courts and swimming pool. The home, located at 44th Street near Grimes Avenue, was leveled after a fire and the property became Kojetin Park.
As one blog reader emailed: "As kids, we thought of it as a 'haunted house' and made daring exploits into its scary -- but splendid -- interior. I've always been curious about why such a gandiose property would be abandoned. My conjecture is that the Parburys were victims of the crash of '29 and had to leave their estate behind, but I have no evidence to support or refute. Any ideas?"
The reader also shared a well-documented story about the Parburys. Officer George Weber received reports about a big black bear running loose in the Morningside neighborhood. His intrepid investigation skills discovered that the bear was only the Parbury dog, a huge black Newfoundland.
If you have information about the Parburys or their home, please let me know. I'm working on a story for an upcoming newsletter. In the meantime, here is a photo of the home from our files. The rear view of the home shows an upper level greenhouse as well as the famous dog (lower right). From this perspective, I wouldn't have called the home a mansion, but many people have assured me that the home was one of the nicest in town.
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