The Howey Mansion in Florida might not be as well-known as other mansions from the 1900’s era. It might not be as famous, as big or as opulent, but it is packed with a rich history, a fascinating story, and it’s been renovated to capture the original luster.
A massive fan of mansions, palaces, and stately homes, visiting the Howey Mansion has been on my Florida bucket list for a while. I was eying it up when it was derelict. And while the renovated version is delightful, I wish I would have taken a chance to see it before the renovation. On January 27, 1983, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Howey Mansion is located at 1001 Citrus Ave. Howey in the Hills, Florida.
I’m going to give you the abbreviated version. If I tell you everything, the tour won’t be as interesting for you.
This 20-room mansion was built in 1925 by William J. Howey, a citrus fruit innovator, being one of the first to ship fruit to England. Howey died of a heart attack in 1938 at the age of 62. Mary Grace Hastings (his wife) continued to live here until she died in 1981. Both Howie and his wife lay at rest on-site in a mausoleum.
The next owner was Marvel Zona, who acquired it in 1984. Long story short, Zona got conned into a reverse mortgage to get funds to assist her sick husband. This resulted in her not being able to pay the mortgage or maintain the mansion. Zona was foreclosed on in 2008, and the estate started its journey as an abandoned building.
Nine years later, in 2017, the property was auctioned and sold to Brad Cowherd, who operates Florida Oranges Land Co. Cowherd paid $630,000 and has invested over a million dollars in restorations.
In May 2018, the Howey Mansion was opened to the public as a venue for special events, weddings, and private parties. You can also tour the mansion, assuming there is not an event taking place.
Inside The Howey Mansion
The mansion is a 7188 square foot, 20 room Mediterranean Revival Style home. None of the rooms feature the original furniture because Marvel Zona sold it while in financial distress. The furniture that is inside is true to the era, and a bonus is you can touch and feel everything given; it’s not a historical artifact. You can even open every door and peek at what’s behind them, an unusual perk that is not common in historic properties.
The Main Ball Room
The Stair Case
Dining Room, Office, and Library
The Hidden Basement
This was my personal favorite. In 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act enforcing prohibition under the 18th Amendment. The ban on alcohol was in place until 1933. This did not stop the Howey’s! They installed a secretly hidden basement to stash all of their alcohol. Talk about forwarding thinking!
The first picture is the hidden lock in the library that opens the secret door to the basement.
There are many other rooms to explore, like the kitchen, the sunroom, the bedrooms, and bathrooms. I am not going to share all the photo’s with you; I want to leave some surprises for you. Go check out the mansion yourself, above is only a snapshot of what you will explore. The bedrooms hold some surprises, as do the upper balconies.
Video of Inside The Howey Mansion
Outside The Howey Mansion
Originally, the mansion sat on 15 acres. Much like the furniture, most of the acreage was sold off by Marvel Zona. The Howey Mansion now sits on 4 acres of land. One thing that surprised me is that the mansion is not tucked away in a remote or hidden location. It’s in a residential area. There are houses on the main street, and a busy road runs directly behind the house. If you are facing the home front on, it appears to be a vast estate. Once inside, you can see there is little land at the rear. Regardless, it’s still an impressive estate.
Video of Outside The Howey Mansion
What You Need to Know
Tours run Tuesday through Saturday at 10 am or 2 pm when there isn’t a private event.
It’s possible to rent out the entire mansion and sleep inside the mansion vs. the guest cottage.
You can host a private function here, such as a wedding or a gala.
The rates for hosting events are beyond reasonable, for example, weddings start at around $4,000.
The mausoleum is not open to the public.
If you are remotely interested in architecture or history, the tour of The Howey Mansion is something you will enjoy. The tour explains the entire history of the property, tells you all about the families that have owned it while also sharing all about the city of Howey In The Hills. I loved this tour. It’s excellent value for money, and it’s an alternative to the standard Floridian attractions.
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.