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The strange tale of Midget Mansion

July 2, 2012

Readers of my blog are aware that I am fond of pointing out that San Antonio is one of those places that seems to beget a bounty of weird urban legends. One of the most whimsical and macabre tales involves an estate that had the colorful name of Midget Mansion (also known as Gillespie Mansion). So named because it was apparently constructed with low-hanging fixtures and low ceilings, the tenants were reputed to be a family of little people. Specifically, the patriarch and his wife, though the residence was evidently also inhabited by their normal-sized children and also some servants.

The father is said to have been a successful businessman during the 1920s who had the home tailored to his unique specifications. For many years neighbors would curiously observe the habitation and its novel tenants. Then events took a tragic turn one day when the father allegedly went mad, murdering his entire family and then himself for reasons unknown (at least according to the story). The mansion understandably remained abandoned for the decades that followed and ultimately fell to ruins. Rumors of shadowy figures and disembodied noises emanating from the location were prevalent for years, leading to a foregone conclusion that the place was haunted by the spirits of the victims.

Eventually the abandoned property off Medical Drive on the Northwest side of town became a hotspot for teenaged thrillseekers and perhaps even diabolical cult activities that involved satanic rituals and animal sacrifices. Vandalism and a fire ultimately took their toll and the mansion was demolished. As with most urban myths, there are distinct variations in the story. For example, in one version the home had also been the site of a suicide by the daughter of the original owner. In another, the tiny tenants were said to despise normal-sized people and consequently to mistreat their servants.

The location (near the Medical Center) where Midget Mansion once stood is, now the site of some luxury condominiums. — Ken Gerhard


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  • Jotash

    I’ll never forget the adventure I experienced as a teen in the late 70’s when a group of us sneaked into the Midget Mansion to esplore its mysteries in the middle of a summer, weekend night.  Other groups of teens randomly showed up as we teamed up to wander the trashed out mansion and property with flashlights.  Two shotgun blasts fired in the air (presumably by the owner or caretaker) shook us back to reality, driving all of us to sprint for our lives, and wondering if the next shot would be aimed at our backs.  Those were the days in S.A.!

  • RAbuabara5

    I remember going there as a teen. I was too scared to go in, and we were not the only ones there. I was afraid of someone just trying to scare me! I did walk up to the door, walk around the house, on the yard. But no guts to enter. Some of my friends did try to enter, and something happened, and they all came running out, which made me run… we all ran to the car and took off.. laughing, but scared out of our wits!

  • Spfldtex

    too bad your facts in the story are all wrong.. wrong pic of mansioa… Midget Mansion, Munchkin Mansion were the same.  You’ve pictured The Gillespe Mansion.   There were never any “little” people at midget manison. 

  • Raydeoca

    can you tell us what really happened there?

  • RAbuabara5

    yeah, I don’t remember it looking like that.. 

  • Eric-atkisson

    okay, I thought midget mansion was off of horizon hill not medical…. so what’s next, the legend of the donkey lady?

  • Estaven

    Would someone please inform the luxury condo owners that they are living on a murder site?  I just think it would be so funny if they knew.

  • mamafoodie

     Friends and I frequented this place, the tracks, as well as the fat farm when we were looking for adventure.  There were 2 mansions that were connected by a tunnel.  If you explored enough, you saw the tunnel on both and could see the other mansion from the top.  This looks more like the one that teens used as a hangout and for parties. Especially during Halloween.  Back then it was straight out of a bad 80’s horror movie – so cool to have been there! SA isn’t like the old days, cruising Brack and Military and having haunted hangouts.  I have many memories (and a few pictures) of some great times.

  • Cindy

    didn’t know we had luxury condos in the med area

  • itsjus

    It was a cool place in the late 70’s  now tell us what you know about the donkey lady  or stone bull .

  • Luiz66

    Thats not the way I rememeber it looking either.  Even though it was a burnt out shell of what it once was had good party times and freaky events back in the day.  Later, as a contractor working on the luxury condos we had lunch with the architect. I told him the story of midget Manison he then said,”he knew there was somthing wrong with the area” he was not from San Antonio.  He was frighted off and said he would not come back by himself while surveying the area.

  • Ken Gerhard

    Check my archives, Eric. I covered the Donkey Lady a while back…

  • Tartplatoon

    I went there alot. Do not remember it looking like that. It had a basement and then further down ubder the house was a wine cellar. It was alot of fun, there was a room that was all wood a hallway that had book wallpaper and a awesome chandlier. Loved it! But my undersstanding was two brothers were fighting over it and the one that wanted to restore the house loss in court. Also remember labeled bathrooms, girl boy, and a couple of cabin looking things around a pool vout back.

  • Ken Gerhard

    Thanks for your comment. It seems that there are many interpretations of the story…  as with all urban legends.

  • Ken Gerhard

    If you check my blog archives, you will find out about my Donkey Lady investigation. Thanks for your comment!

  • Giselladelapena

    This is not Midget Mansion!  Please see the Midget Mansion group page on FB. 

  • danny r

    On the location of the Blood Bank off of I-10, once stood a two story house. It had a long drive-way up the entrance, then would come to a circle drive-way in front of the house. Back in 1980-81 was the time that we would go looking for scary places. This place was one, and  I was told, it was the Gillespie Mansion.

  • Berguendy

    stone bull….  drove by there the other day…  doesnt look the same either…

  • Ramona

    this is a cool story! very creepy :)

  • Bob Aston

    Hate to bust your bubble but this pic of the Gillespie Mansion is not the Midget mansion. It was located at the corner of Donore and Tupelo just around the corner from the medical center. I know because my wife grew up right next door to the Sheerin Mansion. After it was sold to Omni Investments it accidently burned down. And I know who was responsible for the fire. It was a magnificent home. My wife as a small child would ring their doorbell and ask if they had seen her billy goats. That was out in the country back then, with dirt roads. My wife’s mother had the city pave the roads out there.

  • Truth

    Dude you are a idiot! Thats not Midget Mansion at all, do you bother to even do any kind of reasearch? You just heard a half-a** story and ran with it, like these idiot Yahoo reporters. You are lazy and unprofeffional and should be fired. Im sure you have a degree and cheated all through college, are you even from SA?

  • Douglas Nelson

    That picture is not midget mansion.That picture is the Gillespie mansion just off of I-10 near Vance-Jackson,now long since gone.Midget Mansion and the Gillespie Mansion are or were two different places.Midget Mansion was off Medical Dr. about a half mile before you get to Fredericksburg Rd. on the top of the hill where there is Luxury Apts. not condos.Do some reserch next time………